I wrote a very rough start to a little paragraph (we'll deal with questions of quality rather than quantity later), boiling down the argument of a couple books and defining their terms and then explaining why they would be important to my actual points. I haven't actually gotten to my points yet in this paragraph, but that's ok ---- boiling down a book-length argument, like reducing a sauce, takes some time. And stirring. No, wait, that's only for the sauce.
If you count the footnotes (some of which are genuine footnotes and some of which are more "yeah, remember to figure out how you feel about this sometime" comments to myself, I wrote about 500 words! Whoo-hoo! That took about an hour and a half, and then I was wiped out. So I ate an early lunch.
Then, of course, I felt all sluggy and sleepy, like I usually do after lunch, and so I did a little bit of errands, tried a bit of reading, toodled around on the internet a bit, and finally ended up typing in more piles of quotes from this other book I will need to deal with. At last, happy in my amazingly-productive-for-me productivity, I called it a day and cheerfully went home early.
You know, I do this to myself all the time. More than anxiety or writer's block, I sabotage myself by upping my goals and increasing my minimums before I ever meet any of them. This morning, I went for a caffeine break almost floating with happiness, wanting to stop everyone I knew and beam at them, "I'm writing, I'm writing!" Twenty minutes later when I hit the word count button I'm thinking only of the 6 or so days this month I didn't produce anything and beating myself up:
Only 500 words? That sucks. You suck. You should produce at least four pages of useful writing today for you to even consider yourself having a semi-decent day of work. And what is this with taking "breaks" for frivolous reasons like "eating" or "going to the bathroom"? You should be sharp as a razor, focused as a laser, and working like a machine, nonstop.Walking down the halls again I imagine everyone I know coming up to me and saying, "If you worked today, why is your dissertation still unfinished?" Or, "jezus, Cog, how slow are you?"
That's what I've got to stop. Somewhere there must be some useful middle ground between "I thought about my dissertation today; guess I'll go back to bed" and attacking myself because I set impossible goals that are, like the horizon, forever out of reach.
So ... 500 words. That's a good, solid amount of writing for me. Nononono ---- [holds up a hand] Shhhh. Stop. Stop. That's a good, solid amount of writing for me. I'm trying to keep my brain at the pleased enthusiasm level and not let the criticism kick in.