Looking ahead to my 2015 I can see how much writing work I have lined up. I’ve got several talks and/or workshops about writing in the first few months of the year, as well as an eight-day academic writing course.
I seem to have signed up for five book chapters, co–editing a special issue and a couple or four refereed journal articles. Most of these pieces are co-written, many of them with doctoral researchers or recently-past-the-post-doctoral researchers. The two single-authored chapters are both about academic writing.
And then, well I can hardly bear to think of this, but there are also four books – not all due this year, but still, four books on the go. One is nearly finished, but it has been nearly finished for a long time and I do have to take a big breath and do what needs to be done to put an end to it. (I’m doing it now, so I can cross it off the list early.) Then there is the new doctoral writing book with Barbara – it’s now in a messy first draft and needs serious revision so it can be submitted in May. We have a brutal schedule of reading and Skype conversations in order to get this done on time. The two new books are also co-written, they’re with my colleague Chris Hall, and they’re based on our last twelve years of research into the arts, education and community change. One of them, a methods book, actually reaches back to my own doctoral research and my continued interest in questions of place.
Ooh yes. It’s definitely going to be a writing year. Getting this amount of thinking about writing – as well as the writing itself – done does mean that something has to give. I haven’t got any major research projects on this year and, while I will apply for something later on in the year, I’m not expecting to do substantial new research until 2016. In reality I can’t afford to get a new project up until I get some of the writing done.
I’m also going to cut back on reviewing, refereeing and examining. I do a lot of this kind of work and it is a central part of being a member of the scholarly community. But I did seven doctoral examinations last year and reviewed at least four papers a month so I do think it’s probably OK to cut back for twelve months. Maybe I have a bit of scholarly community credit up my sleeve I can now call on.
And I’m definitely going back to my old habit of getting up in the morning and doing pyjama-writing for a couple of hours before I start anything else. Going back to it with a vengeance, not just once or twice a week. Writing early means not looking at social media first thing. No more early tweets. It also means steeling myself to writing in the dark. I’m definitely a writing-at-dawn kind of person and so the long English winter darkness is something of a struggle. Some new music might be in order too, although I really can’t play anything too loud while my partner is still in bed. (This blog post was brought to you by The Bad Shepherds by the way. I like something a bit tuneful and accoustic-ish when I’m writing. And if you follow the link above, it’s to a radio gig The Bad Shepherds did in Australia and the youtube clip includes a bit of seminal video from “The Young Ones”, just to give you a bit of my cultural referencing!)
I’m also wondering if I might have to cut down on blogging a bit. For the last couple of years I’ve been posting twice a week except for the odd week when I’ve posted daily. So while I’m starting this year posting twice a week I will be watching the time it takes, and I suspect I will end up cutting back to once a week, even if only for a while. Of course I have already posted more in 2015 than I’d planned – I did foolishly announce I wouldn’t get back to blogging until next Monday, the 5th January, and here it is the 1st and I’m already at it. Oh well. Addicted to blogging it is then…
I’m going to have to be super, super-organised to get all of this writing finished. I really have to have a clear plan for what to do when and in what order. I’ll be breaking down the writing tasks into manageable bite-sized pieces that I can list and cross off with the occasional big burst on things that need a more sustained and intensive go. My first month of chunks is already in place. I’ve been spending some time over Christmas getting my computer files sorted out so I know where everything is. I’ve got due dates in my diary and have set up some electronic reminders – just in case.
In truth, I’m actually quite looking forward to this year. I like writing and I don’t generally find it stressful. 2015 does feel like a time to consolidate a lot of work that’s been done but is not yet finished off. Putting the work out in written form is important; I don’t ever really feel like I’ve completed a piece of research until there are a set of publications written for various audiences. So this could be a good year for completions.
So it’s a writing year. A year of writing regularly. A writerly year. Write on.