Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 27:

“I couldn’t get to my writing site.”

During the pandemic, those used to working in their campus office, a coffee shop, a library, and so on are finding it tough to get writing done in the provisional spaces now allowed.

Many people can only write in the room where they also sleep and watch Netflix, or where they cook and eat, or where they teach their children. The tactic of aiding your writing by working in a space where all you do is write is no longer available to most people. 

This (hopefully) temporary problem is not easily solved. Some hang an attractive cloth between their bed and their desk, to get some psychic space. Some use noise cancelling headsets. Some get up early or stay up late to have peace and quiet.  In addition, try to do something to mark off the space where you now write. You might try lighting a candle or placing flowers or turning on a fan next to your computer, to help your brain experience that you are in the writing place. 

Before the pandemic, one was always standing in some line, stuck in some meeting, stranded in traffic, lingering for delayed public transportation, or sitting around until someone showed up for an appointment. Whole days could be frittered away in waiting.

If you find these times useful for planning your day or just relaxing, then all power to you.

Most people, however, waste this time on feeling frustrated.

So, try to carry a draft of your article everywhere, on your phone or tablet. You can review the draft and make notes to yourself on improvements or even do line editing. Doing two things at once gives you a feeling of efficiency!

Or, you can use the time for planning and organizing at the macro-level. I asked a prolific senior scholar when he mapped out his books, really thought through their structure and the order of ideas and information. He replied, “If you ever see me at a talk and I’m scribbling notes at a great pace, it means I’ve lost interest in the talk and am planning my book.”

Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 27, one of the distraction obstacles listed on page 32 of Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (University of Chicago Press, 2019).