Most of the people with whom I work worry about not having enough time.
Correction...every person I coach worries about not having enough time to complete their writing project.
This made me wonder...is it really true that no one has enough time or do we just use time pressure to motivate us into action?
As scholar of narrative, I pay very close attention to how people "story" themselves and their lives.
There is a narrative of time scarcity that flies around like a bat loose in a barn. Everybody below screaming, Time scarcity! Time scarcity!"
When you think about how much time it took to write a book just 30 years ago before laptops and personal computers, then you wonder...can it really be true? Is time missing?
I'm encouraging people (myself included) to consider the possibility that we actually have all the time we need. Assume that we are in the perfect place in our projects and everything is on schedule. Then START!
Stoic Theory of Time
The stoic philosophers thought a great deal about time. They did not see time as something real but rather "incorporeal" and always relative to something else.
They understood its flexibility. Their model allowed them to consider that an entire year as the present.
The point of all this is that time can be warped. You can think of five minutes that felt like an eternity (physical pain often) and a summer vacation that went by in a flash.
Given time's incorporeal nature and warping ability, why not assume that whatever we have is enough?
So let's all take a deep breath, sit down and start.
Overcome the "embarrassment syndrome" in writing...
Students get stuck with writing in all kinds of places! Even when I overcome one obstacle a new challenge presents itself.
This month, I noticed a number of colleagues suffering from the "Embarrassment Syndrome."
They did not want their advisers to see their, as Anne Lamott would say, their "shitty first drafts." Or even their shitty second drafts.
They are embarrassed.
I'm Sorry You Have "Muffin Top"
I told one colleague, "you just need to let your adviser into your changing room." She laughed and like the analogy so I am sharing it with you.
Your advisers are for writing what your good friends are when shopping. A good friend tells you if the jeans you tried on give you muffin top or if that color makes you look like you have a hangover.
Have you ever been to a dressing room that has three or more mirrors? You see all sides of yourself...and sometimes it's horrifying. That's what a good adviser does...they act as the multiple mirror system. They help you see your blindspots not to mock you; they do it to help you fix it.
I deliberately picked committee members who live in my blindspots. My chair helped me see assumptions I was making and my other committee member always caught when my thinking got sloppy and incomplete.
I let them see me messy and while it was uncomfortable at first eventually I got used to them being in my dressing room and commenting on my work.
Faculty Have Shitty Drafts Too
The Chair of our Doctoral Program told me he wants to reinstate a program that invites students to working sessions with faculty. In these sessions faculty bring really rough drafts and students can see the process of working through from crap to published.
You can hide until your work is perfect. The impact, however, is that you risk set backs and missing out on the incredible opportunity of working together.
Moving quickly with support is worth a little criticism, don't you think?
Pop a little draft of something to your adviser today...
Sarah Federman, PhD