Having worked on my writing every day for the first two weeks of November, I concluded last week feeling rather optimistic about InaDWriMo’s success in getting me to increase my productivity. But I was also very tired. And in order to make time for writing every single day, I was working longer hours (i.e., seeing less of Minnow) and letting lots of other things slide (i.e., my lectures were terrible and let us not even describe the house). What I didn’t realize last Saturday was how close I was to the tipping point…
But by Monday morning I was a stressed out wreck, and then a logistical nightmare (totally my fault for not being on the ball) just pushed me over the edge. I already had a therapy appointment scheduled and I just vented and ranted and cried til my time was up. Then, the rest of the day I walked around with puffy eyes that reminded me of my morning. What I was able to articulate to the therapist is that I knew that my pace of work was unsustainable in the long-run, and I was feeling incredibly trapped because there are all these external deadlines that are independent of each other, but that I would lose professional face if I missed any of them, so the only thing that could give, bend, or contort was me, and that I was just about out of elasticity. What I didn’t articulate then, but I realized later in the day was that my plan of just working as hard as I could and then taking a few days off at Thanksgiving was also an unworkable plan, because as my morning jag had demonstrated I didn’t have the physical or emotional stamina to make it through another week and a half.
So I didn’t. Monday I worked on my teaching. Tuesday I taught and inadvertantly left my USB drive at school so I couldn’t write in the evening. Instead, I emailed my coauthors and told them I was considering asking for an extension from the journal deadline if they couldn’t promise me to turn around their edits on the paper in a very short window. Wednesday I worked briefly on a single figure, and Thursday I did not much more. At the end of the day Thursday, I wrote to the journal and told the editor that I needed another month. I haven’t heard anything back, but its fairly immaterial because it’s no longer possible for me to meet their deadline. By Friday, I was feeling good enough to actually tackle some text again, and I got a couple of hours of work in, but instead of working on the laptop in the evening, I watched a movie that I’ll show in class in a couple of weeks. Now, I am writing this post while Minnow naps. Tonight, I’ll probably try to work an hour or two on the text, but I am going to go to bed at reasonable time. I promise.
I didn’t make much progress this week on the writing of the figures, and my AGU poster is still a figment of my imagination (an increasingly scary one at that). But I did learn some important things: First, the world won’t split in two and swallow you up if you have to ask for an extension to a journal’s deadline. Worst case scenario, you have to submit to a different journal. Second, you can’t push yourself to your limit week after week after week, holding out a vacation as some distant goal. Sometimes, you need to take that break a bit earlier than the calendar might like. Either that, or you have to learn to get your work done at a sustainable pace, but I’m obviously not one to provide advice on that.