Everybody with a 9-5 envies scholars and teachers for “having summers and winters off”. But we know the truth: academics don’t have time off. Summers and winters were designed for us to write and publish so we can either keep the jobs we have or get the ones we want.
This Thanksgiving break is no different. All of my friends and I will take a break to eat turkey and stuffing, then head back to our laptops to finish articles, chapters, and meet deadlines. We will be thankful for our partners, our families and friends, but also for a few days to get to the other job of writing.
& less of that:
Here is how I survive a “writing holiday”:
1. Have a vision for how you want to spend your time
It is helpful to determine how you want to spend your holiday. If you want to spend time with your family, then do just that. If you want to write and spend time with your family, make sure that you create reasonable goals and expectations for what you want to accomplish. You may not be able to write an entire chapter while you’re home. Why not just work on the lit review? Or create an outline for a new project?
2. Create boundaries
Make it clear to your people that you need to write at a certain time (if that’s your thing). You may have to duck out on the family gossip, or wake up extra early to have some quiet time. Let it be known that you will graduate faster if you have time to write. Your family loves you and they will not stand in the way of that.
3. Take at least one day off.
Nothing makes your writing go better than a real, real Sabbath. No responding to midnight emails from students who want you to create an extra credit assignment just for them. No frantically reading last minute articles. Just–take some time to be with your family and friends, to read something fun, or watch something fun or eat some decadent chocolate. Have a drink with your friends and DON’T TALK ABOUT SCHOOL.
I know. Is that even possible?!?!
4. Do something that inspires you.
Why did you even get into this field in the first place? A break in the school year is a really good time to revisit your own history of what inspired you to become a scholar and teacher. It might be a good time to read and remember what you love, why you love it.
5. Think about how to create the life you want.
In the midst of the school year it is really difficult to think about what you want. We end up moving from our students’ demands, to the demands of research. But during the holiday season, as you’re chopping onions and garlic, think about what makes you happy, and how to have more of that. If you love family time, or time with friends, think about ways to see them more often. (Grading party, anybody?) If you love watching films for fun, or want more workout time, think about how to negotiate your schedule to make time for that.
6. Do what makes you happy.
If your paper is getting on your nerves and you want to go play video games with your nephew, then please, close the laptop and play that video game. If you are tired of looking at your raggedy nails as you type, then please go get a manicure. And while you’re at it, go get your hair done too.
The paper will get written on time because it always does.
Finally, remember that you run work; don’t let that work run you.
Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Writing Holiday!