March 17, 2005

Darkest Before the Dawn

I've noticed that as grad students reach the end of the chapter they've been slaving on, or as professors are just getting over the hump in writing an article, they feel the most discouraged.

I'm not sure why that happens. Does that happen to you?

Perhaps it's the fact that you've been immersed in your writing so long that it ceases to have any meaning. The lack of perspective makes it look insipid and trite. People often say they feel like they're going in circles.

Probably that's the time where you should set your work aside for a day or two, and work on some other project or chapter. Even better, give it to a trusted colleague to read and get their input. What you need at that point is some perspective.

I've experienced this: I put something away for a while, feeling that it was mediocre. When I picked it up a week later, I think, "That's really not so bad!"

Whatever you do, don't delete what you've written! In the light of day, it actually might not be so bad. If there is something wrong with it, you're probably too close to it right now to make the changes. Give it a rest and the solution might jump out at you.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with hating their writing and then coming back later to find out it's not so bad. Comment here or write me back channel.


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