Metablog IV: writing on demand

This is a bit more personal than I usually post here, and slightly edited down from the version that went in the forum where I originally posted it (nowhere you can get to with your newfangled hyper-text transfer protocol, you darn kids), but it seems germane and relevant and to the point and so on. So, reproduced without further comment:

By now I can pretty much write on demand.

Maybe I somewhere learnt this from my father, who was a journalist. Maybe the whole thesis-writing thing, in gaps snatched between love, childcare, housework and arguments, to say nothing of employment, forced me to be able to just type when my obsessive-compulsive routines finally wash me up at the keyboard. On Friday afternoon I basically typed solidly for two and a half hours, be it on blog posts, the monograph I’m writing for work (very short, first draft text now done, 4,300 words) or e-mail (also for work, I’d have you know). It was good; the brain was just pouring it out and the afternoon flew by. Today, despite being groggy after one of the worst night’s sleep I can remember, in that I did actually sleep but woke with a headache, faint nausea, a crick in my neck and painfully cramped shoulders, despite only being awake because of coffee and feeling faintly feverish with how tired I am, I am also writing, which is how come the monograph is finished. I was trying to explain the trick to a friend yesterday; it’s something about making sure you know what the question is when you hover fingers over keyboard, and then telling your imagined audience the answer. But I didn’t use to be able to do it half so much; now, it doesn’t really matter how blasted I am, once I can get past the initial gag-reflex-like reluctance to actually think, the words come, and as far as I can tell, they aren’t noticeably worse when I can hardly stay awake than when I’m firing on all cylinders. My style gets a bit more extended and allusive if it can, but often what I’m writing has no room for this.

(Mind you, as an undergraduate I wrote my best single exam paper in a similar state, yawning throughout, and wasn’t able to describe to someone who asked what questions I’d done only minutes after leaving the exam hall… It never seemed like a strategy I should bank on, but it does seem grimly familiar.)

I think it’s the blog has done this, if anything; I think being regularly set, albeit by myself, writing assignments to say something short about something that will hopefully interest a readership, has made me better adapted to simply setting out knowledge in short order. If so, though it’s got me two invitations to participate in academic things (one e-journal, one conference), that would probably be the biggest benefit I’ll get from it, and not an insignificant one.

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4 responses to “Metablog IV: writing on demand

  1. Same here – this is beautifully expressed. I found after a while I could sell it by the yard. I have to stop myself talking to friends as though they were a blank screan on blogger.com.

    I love the ‘gag reflex’!

  2. ‘screan’?! Ahem. ‘screen’.

  3. Well, talking to friends as if they were a tutorial audience is one of the reasons I started the blog in the first place…

  4. Pingback: If I’d had two days « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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