Somebody let me down – it’s a long story and I don’t want to go into details because it’s boring – and I now have to write an abstract for a conference talk on the fly. I’m writing it as the Heathrow shuttle is taking me from terminal 3 to terminal 5. It’s 3:40 am where I’m from and I’ve had a total of 6,5 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours.
But it’s ok, it’s fine, it’s just an abstract. I did it, got it out of the way, and fell into Harrods. I don’t get why people romanticize these conference abstracts so. “I don’t have time to write my abstract! There’s only three weeks left!” Three weeks? In three weeks you can write the whole talk twice over and have time for extensive snooze sessions every day.
And it’s the same with session proposals. People bicker for weeks who’s going to write it and what it’s going to be like. I sit down and do the whole thing in 20 minutes between classes because who’s got the time to drag it out like this?
Committee documents, reports, academic service writing – it’s the same thing. I churn them out like a maniac.
The habit of daily writing is great not only because you produce a lot but also because it demystifies writing. You no longer need exotic and complex rituals to make writing possible. You just sit down (or sometimes hang off a railing on a shuttle), write, and move on.