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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

New Strategy of Writing Conference Talks

So I’m trying this new strategy of writing that I learned from Stupid Motivational Tricks. The strategy consists in not allowing the deadlines to influence how one schedules one’s writing. In simple terms, instead of waiting until the week before a conference talk or an article are due and then staying up for a three-day-long marathon of writing, start working on them as soon as your proposal gets accepted.

I considered doing this in the past, but it always seemed kind of strange to start working on a talk so long before the deadline. What about the drama of slaving over the keyboard as the precious hours that remain before the talk is due tick down to nothing? And the fun of coming to work exhausted after a sleepless night of frantic writing?  Or the possibility that you will get really lucky and overwrite the almost-finished text two days before the due date (which happy eventuality will allow you to bring your stress level to the enviable heights that few of your colleagues will be able to match)? How could one give all that up? How can one feel like a true, overworked academic without these precious experiences? Will one even be able to see oneself as a valuable member of the scholarly community after giving up all these reasons to feel miserable, overworked, and robbed of any chance of actually enjoying the process of academic writing?

Since my upcoming talk has to do with different mechanisms of identity formation, I decided to experiment with my identity as an academic and try being a stress-free, well-rested scholar who does things well in advance. I have to confess that I’m kind of enjoying it. The quality of the talk will definitely be better as a result of the writing process not being conducted in high-stress circumstances. And the funniest thing is that it will actually take less time to write the talk than it normally does when I struggle to make the deadline. When you are in a rush, papers keep getting misplaced, books keep closing the second you find the page you need, fingers that shake in panic keep hitting the wrong keys, and all ideas you might have had are getting misplaced by the hysterical, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s that late already.” Believe it or not, writing for two scheduled, leisurely hours in the morning produces more actual usable text than a frantic all-nighter.

This is proving to be a very interesting experiment.

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3 thoughts on “New Strategy of Writing Conference Talks

  1. Isn’t it great? I used to always do this — until I fell under bad influences, of course — but it really is the way to live.

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    • I just started with the bad influences, I guess. 🙂

      Somehow, I kept having this feeling that doing things in advance made me “weird.” Even though it isn’t like anybody forced me to reveal how I was scheduling my writing to others.

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  2. I agree! (of course).

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