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Academic Coaching & Writing

XXVIII. An Academic, Writing: Acknowledging Summer Woes

Aug 17, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I blinked, and the semester is about to start for me. And I have to say, I’m really looking forward to beginning the academic year, if only because I will have structure and routine again in my life.

Summers can be dangerous for academics. We start strong and then as the summer wears on, our good intentions fall by the wayside. Earlier in the summer, I was doing much better. I had set a schedule that allowed for productivity, but which also accommodated my being able to spend quality time with my family and friends. My writing output was something I was satisfied with, I was motivated, and I felt like I could keep going all the way until mid-August (or now) when the semester starts.

But then I ended up traveling a lot in July, which led to massive shifts in my schedule and routines. I became negligent in blogging my writing progress, partly because I began to have trouble keeping a regular writing routine. And August so far has been a litany of back-to-school events for both me and my children. Sacred writing time? I’ve had enough trouble coming up with enough time to sleep every night!

Admittedly, part of my struggle in keeping up with my regular blogging routine and with my academic writing can be attributed to my waning interest. It might be self-sabotage, but this summer, I found that I preferred spending an extra hour at the pool with my kids rather than writing out another blog post. And as I get closer to the end of the revision process of my dissertation-to-book, I find my mind wandering towards new and different projects.

Not that I regret the time I’ve spent with my kids, or the unexpected opportunity I had this summer to publish this piece on The Atlantic website, based on my Master’s thesis. This success has made me more confident in my writing because someone has said it is, well, good! And no matter what, that is always a nice feeling and has given me the energy for the final push towards finishing my dissertation-to-book project. I also feel ready to teach writing again.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered that it’s never too late to reassert yourself to your writing goals and reestablish good writing habits. I choose to look at the positives rather than the negatives, so as not to get discouraged and further off-track. It will admittedly be a relief for me to go to my (new) office on Monday morning and get into the Writing Room, knowing exactly what my routine will look like for the weeks to come. That I am looking forward to the reestablishing of the routine tells me that I am ready to tackle the hard work of revising my writing that I will detail in the next blog.

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