Sunday, January 21, 2007

The joy of writing...and writing about teaching

So I have been stressing out because I have this writing deadline. I decided in the late fall that I wanted to submit something for a journal special issue. The submission deadline is March 1. Though I wasn't giving myself much time, I decided I had to wait until after the winter break to begin - too much life chaos before that, and it was Onslaught of Marking, as well. And I had a fully sketched plan, which is not how I usually write. I figured that would help a lot.

Well, the last couple of weeks have been hard. I haven't felt able to write, really. Too much going on practically, emotionally. It's been hanging over my head. I wrote a page longhand this past week, but that was all. I have been stressing. Not cutting myself any slack. Feeling as if my failure to produce a submission by the deadline would somehow reflect poorly on my person in any number of ways.

But today? I wrote 1000 words in two hours. Two hours in which I also looked up some references, and emailed some students about my research data for this paper. I can be productive when I need to be, but my rate is about 300 words an hour/tops. For me, this is great. I couldn't believe it!! And it feels as if it's 1000 usable words, words that actually say something. It is a great feeling to be in touch with that level of productivity and ease again. I remember that I am someone who loves writing, and can usually do it with ease. I don't know why I forget this so often. We all do, I think.

I think part of my motivation around this was that I'm writing about teaching. I'm writing about teaching what I research, in fact. And how it converges with the theory that I also teach and write. I've never had the opportunity to write about teaching before, in any scholarly way. I love it. I feel as if it closes the circle. I have written before about how valuable it is to teach your precise area of research. This takes that even further, allowing me to take the time to also work out what my classroom experiences - and what, most of all, my students - have taught me. It's a way of honouring them.

And some of them might end up written into this paper. I emailed a few of them today because I unexpectedly began writing about an assignment they'd done in Precise Area of Research class. It occurred to me that being able to reference some of what they'd actually written in that assignment would strengthen my point - it was, in fact, this assignment that was so powerful that it led me to formulate my paper. I am happy to be able to showcase them as great thinkers in their own right. I think good students need exactly that kind of recognition. One of them wrote back to me to say that she was so happy one of the many essays she'd written could actually be of use to someone. "Exciting!" she wrote. It is exciting.

(By the way, I also feel hopeful that the groove I've entered with the writing is going to have a positive influence on my blog writing. I have been feeling completely devoid of intellect and originality of late, and couldn't fathom writing anything of much interest. Now I can, maybe.)


What Now? said...

That is exciting! Sounds like a great article, one that you're personally invested in, that could be helpful to other profs, and that helps your students recognize just how much you value the work they did. Hurrah!

medieval woman said...

My Dear! I'm so glad you opened the floodgates and wrote that much awesome stuff in such a short period of time! I'm very eager to see how the article turns out and what the collection thinks of it once it's submitted.

Yet another reason why you are my hero - hopefully, I can channel some of your mo-jo myself!


Sfrajett said...

1000 words in 2 hours is amazing! It takes me all day to write that much. But maybe it's your blogging that helps your writing? I always feel that way. Rock on.

sexy said...