In some ways, I see the irony of this post as a “milestone” post (number 300!), when I struggle so very much with the process of this blog. The negative self-messages of what a “horrible” blogger I am, because I am not posting new content all of the time. Yet, I also work to make sure I have something to say before posting.
Over the past week and a half, I’ve been working on what is my last master’s paper for my program. It’s a doozy, really. It’s essentially the culmination of the last three years of learning, formation, and experience, wrapped up in a metaphor. This is the earliest I’ve ever started a paper, honestly. But, I knew that it was important and would take thinking, integration, and lots of edits.
I’ve been doing most of the work on my computer, because it was to be 12-15 pages and while I type quickly, I didn’t want to get to the end and be typing frantically and have lots of typos. Plus, I tend to do most of my academic work on the computer. It’s a different way of thinking for me.
Anyway, fast forward to this morning, 7:00 AM. I chose to sleep last night instead of pushing through like I had the night before. I still had anywhere from 2-5 pages to write, and then the editing to do. And yet, unlike most times, I felt a sense of calm about it.
This is my process.
This is what I do most of the time. It’s the eleventh hour (or pretty damn close), I’m not quite done, and there are books scattered around me, cups of water and coffee, piles of paper, and a hundred PDFs open on my iPad. It looks like chaos, sometimes feels like it, too. And yet… this morning, I trusted myself to print it up, get out my favorite blue ballpoint pen, and start scratching all over it. You’ll get to page count. You’ll know when it’s done. I start working, get up to stretch. Stop for a moment, think. Get up and grab a book from the piles on my desk. Start back with my blue pen.
I set an alarm for an hour and a half before it was due, just in case editing wasn’t done. I finished half an hour before that, giving me two full hours to do electronic edits and final reference touch-ups. And, with an hour to spare, I hit send and had a visceral experience of that pause just after the out breath and before the inhale.
This is my process.
When I stop fighting what it has to look like and instead honor what really is my own way of getting things done, there is less pressure and less anxiety. There is not the same welling up of OH MY GOD IT’S DUE IN TWO HOURS AND I’M NOT DONE YET!!! I’ve lived in that space most of my academic life, scrambling to finish. I often thought of it as procrastination and being a horrible student. While there is some of the former in there, this time I didn’t judge it. I just knew to start earlier so I had more going into the final push. That noodling around is just as much a part of the process as the scribbling with blue ballpoint pen.
When I stop fighting what I think it should look like, I can look around and laugh at myself in this crazy process. I can prepare what I need to beforehand, rather than frantically looking for my resources or having to pull together my reference page. (Which, really? Often takes a super long time.)
What would owning your process mean for you? What would letting go of what that process “should” be look like for you?