I can’t remember where I saw that written, but it’s stuck with me. ‘Write every day’ doesn’t work for everyone but the idea holds merit. If you write something every day, even if it’s just a single sentence, at some point you’re going to end up with something tangible. I think we all know this. So why don’t we write every day? If I know that most of writing is just showing up then why do I stare idly out the window instead of opening Word or Scrivener? Or vanish down a YouTube/Buzzfeed/Insert-site-here rabbit hole, occasionally under the guise of research but more often as a ‘I’ll just watch one’.
I write because I love stories and I love the idea of transporting someone else into a world I created. As child I declared that I would be an archaeologist and a writer. The archaeology part is going pretty well; I’ve been on excavations and I’m now in the second year of my PhD. But writing, especially when you’re starting out, is hard. We want so badly for the dramatic, vivid story in our heads to appear on the page after the slightest brush of the keyboard. The first draft is usually a disappointing scribble in comparison. When you’re not sure how to do it every step toward that final bound manuscript can seem like trying to leap across the Atlantic with a wriggling monkey on your back. You can see that others have done it before you, but you’re pretty sure you’ll fall short with a rather limp splash, and that you’ll never find out what the monkey is for. Perhaps it’s carrying the notes for the fourth or fifth draft…I’ll let you know when I catch it.
A PhD can be similar at times. When you’re plodding through the first months of data collection that final submission date and the viva seem pretty far off. The difference with a PhD is that there is a deadline, which usually feels so far off it’s invisible while simultaneously feeling like it’s hiding in the corner waiting to jump out. You’re also surrounded by other students in the department, all at different stages but all working toward the same goal. It’s much easier to keep your ass in the chair when there are others working hard in the same room.
This was part of my reason for starting a blog: to teach myself to actually show up, sit down, and write. To ignore the part of my brain shouting that the Atlantic is far too wide for my short little legs. I began over at Narrative Rehearsal but I’ve moved here to expand.
I’ll be writing about books and writing but also about PhDs and archaeology and more. It’s not long to the launch of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme so relevant posts are forthcoming. The rest will unfold as I go.
I hope you’ll follow along and enjoy.