Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Writing Day

Sometimes I really appreciate my university. Xavier has a policy whereby each semester one of our Psych department faculty members gets a lighter load so that they can work on a scholarly project. The lighter load typically means teaching 3 rather than 4 classes, but for me it means teaching only 2 because I already have 1 course reduced load due to being chair of the Xavier IRB research committee.

We rotate the light semester among our departmental members and this semester is my turn. I love it so. I have my classes scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I already have meetings scheduled on Thursday and often we have meetings on Tuesday, but every couple of weeks I will have a completely free Tuesday and I stay home that day and write. Yesterday was such a day. And I got so much accomplished.

I'm working on the nonfiction Darwin book that I've mentioned here before. I was able to get about a dozen pages written, which is actually tremendous progress considering that, with nonfiction, you're often spending half of your time or more checking and double checking facts and information.

On a standard day, I try to do some writing at home in the evening after dinner, but it's not always easy when you've already put in a full day of work. But yesterday I was rolling so well and so "immersed" in the work I was doing that I took only about an hour break for dinner and then was back at the computer writing until well after 11:00.

I think that is a key thing when one is able to essentially write full-time. The work develops momentum. You enter a productive zone where the ideas and the words to express them flow. And you don't want to stop. I knew I had to get up at 6:00 this morning but the sentences kept coming, the connections kept being made. And my fingers got a workout.

Finally, at 11:20, I purposefully shut off my computer because I knew I had to get some sleep. Only then did I realize that I'd ignored several minor tasks all day that needed to be done. I managed to get those finished and slid into bed by 11:45, but I couldn't shut my brain off. My mind kept coming back to the writing I'd been doing and more ideas gathered to demand my attention. I believe it was about 1:00 when I finally drifted off.

Although I only got 5 hours sleep, I'm still feeling pretty energized at this moment from yesterday's work session. I know by afternoon I'll be dragging, but right now I'm not worried about that. Unfortunately, I give a test in my comparative class today and that means grading instead of writing this evening. I'll be jonesing for the keyboard soon, and already looking forward to the next day when I can immerse myself in the flow of words and ideas. It really is a high.
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33 comments:

Angie said...

Sounds like you had a great day. :) I love it when that happens; I just wish I could turn it on at will. Still searching for that switch!

Giving a test is just sitting there making sure no one cheats, right? Could you bring a laptop or something and work on your book while the students take their exam?

Angie

Carole said...

Totally awesome. Those days are rare, but am so glad you get one from time to time.

jennifer said...

I have lost a lot of sleep because my mind wouldn't stop working. I usually just go with it and stay up until I've worked it out. Of course, not being formally employed helps.

I'm glad you accomplished so much and feel good about it. I hope this happens everytime you have a Tuesday to yourself.

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...I fell asleep before you, for a change! It took a few days of not getting enough sleep, but I sure wish you'd gotten more last night. :(
Regardless, I'm glad you got "in the zone" to write yesterday. Just think ahead to the Summer, when you can write at will!

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, I typically do some long hand writing during tests but you have to keep a fairly close eye on some students, and with the Darwin book there is too much fact checking back and forth to do it well when there are likely to be interuptions.

Carol, me too. :)

Jennifer, I keep going some times too but I've learned that if I don't get some sleep I'll be less than stellar in my classes the next day.

Lana, I think of it often, sweetness dumpling of wuv.

laughingwolf said...

grats on the time off and massive progress, charles! :)

Deka Black said...

I know the sensation. Years ago i had a "maniac writing" epsisode inmy life. then came a hardship and.. i had not writed a singleline of fiction since then :(

I'm jealous of you for such days, Charles, Do not lose them!

Ron Scheer said...

I smiled as I read about the way the brain keeps working like that, even after lights out. I've spent whole nights mentally writing. Sometimes being awakened with new ideas that can't wait until morning to get written down, and all I want to do is get some sleeeeep...

Steve Malley said...

So jealous right now... :)

David J. West said...

Love those kind of days.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,
Congrats on your great day! I LOVE those days -- the all day writing momentum days. But you get more writing done than anyone I know even with a full-time job. You are the man!

ArtSparker said...

Inspiring post. I'm just reading the fictionalized voyage of the Beagle, This Thing of Darkness. Have you read it?

Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, thanks, man.

Deka, haivng one makes me want more. I sure do apprecaite them, though.

Ron Scheer, at times when I'm off teaching I will roll with those ideas, but I have to try to be semi coherent for my students at least.

Steve Malley, I'm jealous of myself as I look at all the tests I need to grade tonight.

David J. West, they are indeed excellent.

Michelle, it just grates me when I have to go several days in a row with no chance to write.

ArtSparker, no I haven't but it sounds down my alley. I'll check it out.

Heather said...

Oh I'm jealous. Sounds like a lovely day!

Rick said...

I need one of those days, Charles. Man that sounds great- and you deserve it.

Travis Cody said...

I love those kinds of productive days. It's been awhile since I had one though. Perhaps I should try to arrange one.

Ocean Girl said...

I can imagine your driven energy when you are working on something you are passionate about. I look forward to your book on Darwin, Charles.

etain_lavena said...

Sounds amazing, but the brain that gets so busy with ideas can be a problem. Enjoy the lesser lessons:)

Merisi said...

Being immersed in work, living in the productive zone, what bliss! Is it any wonder that so many creative people of the past had their own little thinking hut, writing room or similar?

I admire the sheer workload you carry and at the same time working on your various writing projects.

Wishing you many more days of freedom to pursue your passion!

Charles Gramlich said...

Heather, maybe it will carry me through the rest of the week.

Rick, it's pretty special when you get it, I think.

Travis Cody, It often does take some maneuvering around to manage to get one.

Ocean Girl, it's a very fine feeling of pleasuer, of accomplishment. both intellectually and emotionally stimulating.

etain_lavena, I find my mind will eventually run down even on days like that.

Merisi, thank you. I have a great writing home office right now that is really nearly ideal for me.

X. Dell said...

You're mighty productive. I'm imagining you just keeping up with blogging, your copious reading and your fictional writing during one of those semesters where you have a FULL teaching load.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I think it is great, but Charles, think about the days when school is out and you have time to work and instead you sort of stare at the wall and make farting sounds with your lips. I suppose it all balances out.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Our university gives productive scholars every 7th semester off (at 80%) and a 2/2 teaching load. I doubt my husband could have written half as much without this generous policy.
But I fear this generosity will have to end if the economy doesn't improve.

Charles Gramlich said...

X. Dell, less happens then for sure. It's feast or famine, mostly, many days where it is impossible to write, then a few where you can write all day

Stewart Sternberg, I make plenty of farting sounds regularly, but not with my lips.

pattinase, that worries me. I'm going to apply for a sabbattical in another year so I hope the economy doesn't force Xavier to cut back or cancel those.

ivan said...

Suddenly busy and productive!


On the perfervied actiivity of the brain during a writing streak:

(Well, maybe not so much the brain, at least for me. I seem t think with my stomach).

There has to be some basis for this from Locke's old Theory of Association, to perhaps a malapropism like maybe Locke's "Rape of the Pope"--or have I been educated beyond my intellect? :)

But I'm convinced its the stomach and not the brain in the creative process.

You need go no further than old Montaigne, who opens one essay with "My stomach rumbled today, and that made me think of...."

Hey. I think it's in the tum, chum. :)

Erik Donald France said...

That is fantastic, among the best kinds of days possible. Here's to many more like that down the line . . .

Charles Gramlich said...

ivan, my tum does not like to be distracted from thoughts of beef, chicken and pork. I have to drive it from the trough.

Erik Donald France, I'll drink to that!

Cloudia said...

You well express the thrill when writing is going well - and yours DOES!




Aloha to you
from Waikiki!


Comfort Spiral

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Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, it was a very pleasant experience, for sure.

SzélsőFa said...

it sounds great! devotion and accomplishment can truly energize one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, indeed so.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Herein lies my problem: I have to teach five days a week with 32 contact hours. By the time I get home, I'm burned out. Still, I manage to write every day regardless. And now I've been told my marriage is over after 18 years; makes it difficult dealing with whiny little bitches crying about their rights. Still, I plod forward at a snails pace.

cs harris said...

Sounds like a great day. Funny, I think I actually got more done when I was a busy mother with two little kids to be driven to school, picked up, taken to lessons, etc. It forced me to focus when I did have a block of time. Now that the days stretch ahead, I seem to fiddle away hours.