At this moment, I am sitting in my university library, exhausted, procrastinating, and did I already mention exhausted? Yeah. The future is pinwheeling towards me a little faster every day, and it’s not going to slow down until June 25th, when I get back from Ecuador. In between now and then: final thesis edits, final exams and projects, graduation, and right back to Ecuador without even a week to breathe, much less write.
All of that said, I’m here to do some reflection on the most arduous writing process of my life to date: my senior thesis, product of two summers of ethnographic research in Ecuador. Here are some observations about writing the damn thing that might be useful:
- At every stage, I thought, “at least that’s done. the rest will be easier.” At every stage, I was wrong. Every part was just as hard.
- I skipped my first class ever (unrelated to sickness or being out of town) to pull, not an all-nighter, but an all-evening-and-all-morning-er. I have since skipped another class. It felt very good.
- Even after everything, I still basically have the first draft of a solid paper. Were I to take this process further, I would need to start from the ground up.
- Breaks! are!! necessary!!!
- Somehow, someway, it got done, and it will keep getting done. There’s just no other option.
I think most of that can apply to creative writing as well as academic…except the last one. When you’re not working under a strict deadline, there is not otherworldly force demanding it complete. There’s just yourself. So if I had to try to turn this into some advice about writing, it’s to cultivate some measure of intrinsic motivation in yourself. You need some way to guarantee, if not perfection, than completion.