Finding the balance


Royal MS 14 E III c. 1315 – 1325 AD. Courtesy of


Yes, I know – I should be writing.  Not this, but the actual thesis – the work I am supposed to be doing.  I am justifying it at the moment on the basis that ‘just writing’ can sometimes help me become ‘unstuck’.

Some time ago, I thought about the advice I had been given to write just 500 words per day, 5 days per week.  If I had stuck to this commitment, I would have nearly two theses worth of words, although some of them might have been a bit rubbish.  As it stands, I am struggling to regulate my writing.

I have been  posting a ‘Twitter accountability’ tweet at the end of the month, usually achieving 3-7k in revising some chapters, putting together conference papers (known as ‘diversion words’) and sorting out frameworks.  In an intense period of about ten days recently, I wrote a thesis chapter of nearly 15k.  This turns out to be a horrible mistake.   Firstly, I made myself unwell – migraines, temperature, viral weirdness.  I was also totally exhausted.  For the week following I have hardly managed anything of value at all.

Today, I have revisions back for a submission to conference proceedings and am trying to hone said giant writing above now that my poor SUPERvisor has recommended fairly major reorganisation.  With perfect timing as always, Pat Thomson has reposted an article on revising, rather than editing drafted work.  Perfectly capable of trying to help others whilst struggling to take my own advice, I even wrote about responding to revisions in a post for SGSAH lately.  But I am feeling stuck…

So what do I need to do?  I certainly need to think about manageability and wellbeing, because continuing to write in this way can only lead to disaster.  I need to review the programming which leads me to work in this way. Some of it I think comes from  doing a Masters whilst working full time – trying to fit ‘big’ writing into late evenings and weekends; staying up late to get a few more thousand words done.  Another factor is the battle of being a perfectionist (bad news for those who know crappy first draft is essential).

Whatever the reasons, I need to find a way of writing in a more balanced fashion , achieving a sensible amount per week in a regular pattern.  I am not awaiting a muse, I am being methodical in following a detailed plan, so for August I am going to go back to that advice of 500 words per day.  Trying to ensure that I don’t fall into an intense writing phase again, I am also setting a top limit of 800 words – if there are sparks for more writing, I will sort them as structured notes for the next day.  For the rest of this month, I am only going to revise the paper and two most recent chapters – this may add some words, cut others and improve a few.  In the next few hours, I am going to take a break, eat lunch, do knitting, because self-care.


Any further advice gratefully received!


One thought on “Finding the balance

  1. Thanks for sharing! When I started blogging I wrote about 40 posts in 60 days (5 posts/week, ~800 words each, 32,000 words total) and I was exhausted. I learned a ton (and felt better about my chances of writing a thesis), but like you knew I couldn’t keep doing it over the long run.

    I think the biggest thing is to re-evaluate how things are going each week. I try to do this on Sunday when I am putting together a plan for the following week. This will tell you wether you need to slow down (or speed up). If you are not enjoying yourself anymore, it is probably time to take a break!

    Liked by 1 person

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