Thursday, June 17, 2004

As I have been working on writing up my research, I have begun to go through some strange things psychologically. It is kind of a crucible, in that it burns away so many other events and activities, both internal and external. In order to do the work, there has to be a certain amount of being alone, secluding oneself whether physically or mentally or both. It is kind of a magnifying glass, in that every possible bad habit I ever thought I could evade, slither by, or work despite, has ended up taking center stage. And yet...

The "and yet" part is that it turns out that this is exactly what anyone doing graduate work goes through, therefore I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Even though I am late (as of today, now that we've set a date for my defense) in turning my manuscript in to my thesis committee, even though I am on "Version 6" (Version 1 was only last week!) and it's still only 24 pages long (though dense), even though I can't tell if my advisor is sick of me and my project or if I'm sick of her and her project (the same project, of course, poor lady!)—I'm definitely moving forward, and this is what people do in this situation. It's a condensed mini-version of all of life’s struggles.

What I mean by that is, the goal is not to avoid having any problems, or bad feelings, but to recognize them, deal with them, and to do the work anyway. If I waited every day until I felt "inspired" to write, then I might have written half a page in the last month*. Maybe. If I waited until things were going smoothly to go forward, I would never go forward.

Every important thing in life tends to inspire ambivalent feelings. Since I'm trying to concentrate on the "pro-writing" impulses, naturally the ones that stand out to me are all the "anti-writing" impulses. It's like martial arts—-if there was nothing to struggle against, I would fall over (mentally speaking). What I mean by that is if someone took away my ability to write right now, if they told me that I'd been booted from the program for some reason, or I temporarily lost my sight, or I had a bunch of urgent class work to get done instead, I would then be experiencing only the "pro-writing" feelings and be suddenly very inspired!

Hmmm... this suggests that if I could convince myself that I am not supposed to be writing, I might feel very inspired and get a lot more done. However, it's nearly impossible to do a paradoxical intervention (read: "reverse psychology") on oneself, because you always know what you’re really trying to do.

*Clients frequently tell me that they wish they felt more “motivated,” and I have to give them the news that most people do most things while only occasionally feeling motivated.

1 comment:

argotnaut said...

>I have to give them the news that most people do most
>things while only occasionally feeling motivated.

Dammit! I thought it was just me, and there was some way I could fix it.