I wish I would have been more consistent in following Amy Benson Brown’s advice in her recent Chronicle Review article: “Attention, Please! Your Book is Calling.” Brown describes herself as a “writer and editor who coaches academic writers.” I never knew such academic coaches existed, but after reading her essay I suspect her phone might start ringing with potential clients. She writes:
But preserving 90 uninterrupted minutes for writing every day (or even just several days a week) can seem like an impossible dream, given all the other demands on our attention. Most weeks, I block out those chunks of time on my calendar, keeping hope alive. The real trick is to discipline yourself not to respond, during the time you have set aside for writing, to cries (or ring tones) from anything other than the project you are working on…
I admire the example of a highly productive scholar I know who does not respond to e-mail messages on the one day a week she has set aside for research and writing. Somehow the work of her university rumbles on. Her colleagues do not seem to mind the lag time, probably because when they get her attention, they receive the same extraordinary focus she brings to her research. Another researcher I know is making the most of her long-awaited sabbatical by focusing on only her writing in the mornings, resolutely refusing to even look at e-mail until mid-afternoon each day.
Great advice for any academic working on a writing project. Check out the entire article if you have a way of getting around The Chronicle‘s subscriber wall.