In a previous entry, I explained how I had to learn a new style of writing since academic writing is all about making an argument, using data, constructing good research questions and providing a theoretical framework. I had to learn how to make my essays clearer, cleaner and more persuasive and figure out how to make my sentences more complex and “scholarly”. My papers are not perfect, but I think my writing has improved over time.
My biggest problem now is that sometimes I get writers block and don’t feel like typing. I have also found that sometimes instead of working on my dissertation proposal I want to hang out on Facebook, check out CNN Politics, touch-up my Linkedin page or watch a little TV. And then when I am ready to write my flow is often interrupted by family, church or work obligations.
I am usually well rested and ready to go when I wake up in the morning and I would love to sit down and start typing when I feel that way. Instead I jump in my truck and head off to work. I am often tired after working all day so it’s a struggle for me to sit down and write. Yet regardless of how I feel I always try to type one paragraph, and in some cases just one sentence, per day. If I can’t do that I will at least try to print out some reports or get my journal articles together.
During the week my best and most productive hours are spent not in front of my computer but in front of my high school students. As such there is always this tension – I could skip work and spend the day typing or I could go into work and help young people. I love doing both things but since I can’t split myself in two I have to decide whether I am going to help others or do something for myself. I don’t like having to choose between my job and doctoral program and sometimes I wish I was a full time student so instead of running off to work I could devote my time to reading, writing and scholarship.
Writing is also difficult because I am on the fence about whether I should submit my essays to a peer reviewed journal or a magazine. There are advantages to both. It would be good if I could have my work published in a scholarly journal because doing so would add to my credibility as a budding researcher. Yet, I know that not everyone has access to or reads journals so my exposure may be limited. By contrast, I sometimes think that it would be good if I submitted my work to a less scholarly but more popular magazine like Rethinking Schools. This would allow me to share both my academic and experiential knowledge with a broader audience.
Even blogging is difficult at times. Before posting something I always ask myself what do I want to write? Who am I writing to? What do I want them to know and what is my main argument? In other words, I go to great lengths to write a blog entry because I know people will read it and I want to make sure everything is tight before I post it on the web. Yet I have to be honest; sometimes I spend too much time blogging when I could be working on something for my dissertation.
Writing is hard but I have come to realize that I won’t get anything done unless I begin to do a better job purposely blocking out time to sit in front of my computer and start hitting on the keys.