I write too little. A few days ago, I complained about and generally mocked National Novel Writing Month, but the truth is I wish I had the time to do it. I’m out of practice. I wrote more in college and the first few years of grad school, but now I mainly do research. The lack of practice is really starting to show. It takes me a long time to produce anything of length– often an hour or more a page. I can’t, and won’t, tolerate that pace if I’m going to get through the papers and dissertations stacked up here at the end of my grad school career.
I decided a few weeks ago that I would write every day. Not necessarily on my work, nor on this blog. Maybe just in a private journal, something every day to reacquaint me with the process, to give myself permission to just type without deleting and rewriting every sentence five times. Alas, at this I have utterly failed. I come home late in the evenings, and what little time I have left seems to get filled by running errands, packing lunches, paying bills, washing dishes… By 10 or 11, I’m so tired that spending an hour trying to hammer out a page hardly seems to be a good investment.
I recently reread my copy of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, which has helped. I generally think I write well, but a quick survey of a thin book points out many flaws in my prose style. Their admonition to “use definite, specific, concrete language” in particular cuts to my fundamental flaws like a scalpel. If I learn to write better, hopefully I’ll write faster too. Or maybe not. I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I’ve written today, and that’s a start.