I’m taking today to kick off a new section on this blog, one inspired by an exchange I had with my wife the other evening. Over the past six months, my off-line work (teaching, lesson-planning, searching for a full-time position, assessing skills and situations to prepare for a new career path, grading, academic articles) has all-but completely consumed my free time, drawing me even further from this blog. Perhaps I will unpack some of those factors in the days to come, but for now, suffice it to say that my off-line responsibilities have squeezed out the time I’ve been able to take for my online work, exploration, and networking. Even when I have a few moments free to start a new blog post, or scan my Twitter / RSS feeds for news to follow up on, my good-old-fashioned Old World Scandinavian work ethic pops up, telling me that I shouldn’t take time for these projects because I still have work to do, work which relates directly to my paycheck or a specific career goal that I have prioritized. So I end up sketching out part of a blog post, then stumbling away to tackle a stack of composition papers, or assess the strengths of a lesson plan I will be using the next day, and so on.
Knowing how frustrated this has been making me, my wife suggested that I commit to taking five minutes per day to work on writing projects. I was skeptical at first, for two reasons — first, I can’t get much accomplished in five minutes, and second, I know that I have a tendency to get swept up in what I’m writing, blowing past my allotted time-frame to pursue one tangent or another for an hour or better, then realizing that I’m far behind on the work I need to do for the next day. This tendency is at once one of my great strengths as a writer (I do my best thinking when I’m writing) and one of my great weaknesses, as it often leads me down interesting but meandering paths right when I need to stay focused.
However, the more I thought about it, I realized that these were actually poor reasons for not taking on a “five minutes per day” writing project. Establishing a small, focused routine just might be the thing that puts me back in touch with the one activity that has, above all others, given shape and meaning to my life, “the spark of life,” as it were: writing.
So, my goal is to write 1 short post per day, working to give myself 5 minutes to write and schedule the post. I’m also going to try releasing each post into the wild without a second look, warts and all — no time spent trying to be a perfectionist and over-polishing a simple blog post! Eventually, I hope to return to thinking of this blog as what I envisioned it to be from the start, a place where my original research interests (renaissance literature and history, cognitive science) could mingle with more modern work.
Day 1: About 500 words, 15 minutes (D’oh!)