This has been a long week. I saw a post on tumblr recently that documented a great example of academic dude-bros mansplaining their metaphorically big butts all over the place. This has been too long of a week for me to even get into how depressing it is that even with PhD tacked onto your name, some Broseph McKnowitall still thinks it is reasonable to interrupt you and teach you about your field. So instead, let’s look at some cats while I talk about writing.
Writing. Even the act of thinking about writing can turn a person from a contented bucket of lovely and squishy humanness into a rage monster, here depicted as a cat, or a self-deprecating and bashful, erm, lobster (note: I have no idea what animal or supernatural creature can best be described as self-deprecating and bashful). I have no idea what it is about writing that flips that switch so completely, but there it is. Not to get too philosophical, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that writing creates written documentation of our ideas and our work and by extension ourselves, leaving us open not only to the judgment of others but also to our own observations of the gulf between what we want to be and what’s on the page. That’s just a hunch.
There’s also this pervasive idea that good writers are just good writers, their ability to communicate via the written word springing out of them full-formed like Athena chopped from Zeus’s head. So when writing is hard (and writing is always hard at first), some people decide that means they are horrible writers with no hope of improvement. Nothing could be further from the truth, except maybe Paul Ryan (hey-ooo look at that topical, edgy, political humor).
I’ve written about writing before and I know I will write about it again. For starters, I simply adore adding a little meta to my week. For seconders, no matter how many times I talk about writing, there’s still more to be said, usually in the form of encouraging or reminding people to write more regularly. I bet you have a paper or grant deadline looming. Why not start now? It just takes a couple of minutes to get something started. You’ll make progress sooner than you expect. And even that aside, here are three great reasons to put pen to paper today.
- It will make you feel accomplished. You’ll have a physical document of some sort of concrete productivity. When so much academic work takes place in the brain, it can sometimes feel like a whole day passes without much getting done. Writing always makes me feel like I’ve gotten some real work done. It makes the whole day feel really well utilized and productive.
- It will make you a better writer. Not only are you creating a product, but you’re developing a skill at the same time. Look at you, catching too birds with one stone. (I don’t care for the real version of that idiom – way too violent.) Now that is true productivity.
- Your writing will not be a sexist jerk who mansplains to you about the basic tenets of whatever field you’re in. You will not be interrupted by your writing, but –and here’s the fun part – you are able to interrupt it. This may be small comfort, but like I’ve been saying, it’s been a long week.