How to manage my writing projects

I feel I have too many writing projects. First, this blog, which I don’t seem to update as much as I would like to. Second, my PhD project, which takes a big block of my daily writing time (as it should). Third, blogging occasionally about timebanking. Finally, my unpublished creative writing in Finnish. Creative writing is something new I have been doing this spring in a creative writing course and it feels great.

In fact, I think the problem is not the number of writing projects but the time available for them. As usual, I seem to have too little time to pursue all my projects. This is not good since I love writing. A though dilemma.

As I am told to be a practical person, I have started to consider how to manage all my writing projects. As a result, I complied a preliminary How-to-manage-my-writing-projects-list in order to manage them all. The ideas come from various sources, for instance academic and creative writing guides. And as I get enough of disciplined lists with my PhD project, the following list is completely incompatible, overlapping, and imperfect.

  1. Write every day. According to many (academic) writing tips, writing daily is the first thing one needs to do in order to get writing done regularly. Quite simple when you think of it. It is a miracle but I can actually do this.
  2. Write the first thing in the morning. It has taken some organising but I’m able to do this. The minute I wake up, I plot down my fist thoughts. Yes, it is sometimes hard and I have to give in and do it after taking care of my child or visiting the bathroom. By the way, hardly any writing guides mention either of these very possible morning interruptions. And still, most mornings I manage to write before I get out of the bed.
  3. Write the last thing in the evening. Now this is more demanding to accomplish. After putting my kid to bed, it is so tempting to enjoy the Happy Hour, namely the hour to oneself after putting kid(s) to bed and before going to sleep. For your information, I created this blog post during my Happy Hour.
  4. Make a list of ongoing (non-PhD) projects and deadlines. I would like to avoid this to the last moment since I need to compile lists at work all the time. Yet, it seems deadlines are good when trying to get things done. Also for writing non-PhD stuff. Thus, my very own great secret of adulthood: the most demanding deadlines are the ones you set yourself (because these issues matter you the most). In my case, they are the deadlines for getting writing done.
  5. Start a Writing Group. I thought of this only some days ago and now I’m very enthusiastic about organising monthly meetings to discuss attendees’ own texts and give & get feedback. I have already some people in mind I want to ask to join the writing group. Exciting!

If you have comments or additions to my list, I’m more than happy to get your tips.

F2F prevails

I survived my May deadlines. Having capabilities to write this post is a solid proof of this. Although, I almost started with “on the last day of the month” before I realised it is already the 2nd of June.

Nevertheless, on the second day of the month it is good to look back and sum up the past month. In addition to deadlines, it was dominated by presentation skills training: a workshop for improving visualisation and a PhD course in communication.

I learned a lot about myself as a presentor (eg. I love using photos and I wiggle my eyebrows funnily). Moreover, I have one strong take away: In order to create new knowledge we benefit tremendously from face to face interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I have no dislike for reading, writing or virtual interaction. However, meeting a human-being in person makes a difference.

For instance, in the visualisation workshop I met an investment banker who claimed that the business of investing is interaction. First, it was rather surprising as one would think it is the return on investment. Then I realised all investors still in the business are able to provide a customer with a reasonably good track record but all of them might not take the time to interact with a customer.

From now on I promise to respect more all the possibilities offered for interaction with others in order to learn and build on shared knowledge. When doing research, attending one research seminar every week is a good start.

When shit hits the fan

I consider myself as a quite organised person. I respect schedules. I feel responsible to prepare for meetings in advance. I make sure that I will not have to run around like a headless chicken.

As a result, when I have during past two weeks (a) missed one doctor’s appointment and (b) one scheduled massage, (b) gone for a doctor’s when it was not my turn, (d) held a presentation which I didn’t prepare for, and (e) run around like a headless chicken, I can officially declare that shit has hit the fan. And perhaps not only once.

It is all because I miscalculated the safety distance separating the shit and the fan. Here, ‘shit’ stands for obligations and fan’ represents my inability to take care of them. When there are too many things to do, crap piles up.

Even organised people have fan troubles, otherwise they are not human or honest. The surprising news is that I have never felt this calm after (a) fan incident(s). Perhaps becoming a parent means dealing with so much more mess that creating some of my own is a drop in the ocean. Or perhaps my difficulties are these so called First World Problems.

However, in order to save my forehead, which I have face palmed quite many times, I decided to take it easier in June. As in May I have still one deadline left for every working day of the week. Zen.