Sunday prewriting post (take 2)

I tried to post this earlier, but the flaky wireless connection I have in this coffee shop crapped out on me, so I’m trying again. Not that I have anything too profound to post; in fact, that was kind of the point of the previous post, that I don’t have much to say right now. But here’s a few thoughts before I get back to work:

  • Things seem to be kind of quiet to me on the blogs I read and various mailing lists, I guess because summer is (soon) upon us, and I also guess because of the upcoming Computers and Writing Conference, this year at Stanford. I decided quite a while ago that I could not afford to spend the time or money to make two trips to California this year, so I went to the CCCCs instead. In retrospect, because the CCCCs was cheaper than I thought it was going to be, I wish I was at C&W too. Oh well.
  • Dr. B posted about something called Conversate that I’ll have to check out at some point. One of the problems I’m having right now is sort of exemplified by this potentially useful tool: how do I write about writing tools available on the internet for a textbook that isn’t liable to come out for at least two years?
  • Mike has a funny post about an article in Inside Higher Education that you shouldn’t read. No, not Mike’s post– the article.
  • I find this funny because I remember this to be the case way back when.
  • I need to relocate to a coffee shop with a less flaky wireless connection; namely, Bombadill’s. The food and people watching are better in Ann Arbor, but the working conditions are actually better in Ypsi.

The fine line between blog as prewriting tool and procrastination enabler

For the record, let me say at the outset that, despite the fact that I played golf today and I am temporarily a “single parent” while Annette is at a children’s literature conference in Canada, I actually did get to work on chapter 2 this evening. I now return you to the blog….

I came across two different blog postings today that spoke (at least in part) about the practice of blogging. The first was Collin in this oddly titled post, where he talks about writerly habits and how keeping a blog can figure into that in a positive way. Collin writes a lot of interesting stuff here, but one brief quote:

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that bloggers write better dissertations, but I do think that there’s a case to be made that weblogs can provide an opportunity for daily writing, an opportunity that will serve a blogger well when it comes to a larger project. Keeping a weblog may help students develop the kind of procedural knowledge that receives so little attention in the formal venues of academia.

Okay, fair enough. Then, over on Maud Newton’s blog (which isn’t all by Maud anymore but which covers a variety of issues of interest to “creative” writers/literati-types) there’s this post by Maud, “celebrating” the third year of her blog:

Frankly, the anniversary depresses me. Three years, and I still haven’t finished my goddamned novel. Worse than that: I abandoned the first one in late 2003 and started a second. Meanwhile, my OCD tendencies rage unabated. I’m still a slob. And I remain estranged from my parents.

The post kind of goes downhill from there.

Now, I think what we have here is the proverbial double-edged sword that is blogging. On the one hand, I completely agree with Collin. I find blogging to be an excellent invention/prewriting/thinking/note taking activity for me. But beyond that, I’ve found blogging to more or less be an end in itself. I mean, I’m not getting huge amounts of hits here, but I am pretty sure more people read my blog every month or so than have ever read my official “scholarship,” at least the print versions of my scholarship.

On the other hand, Newton has a point. I will be the first to admit/confess that posting to my blogs (this one or my unofficial one) is all too often a way of me avoiding something else I should be doing, things like grading student projects, reading, doing stuff around the house, and, of course, writing. It isn’t fair to say that I could be spending all of this blogging time doing “something more productive.” Still… uh… I could be doing something more productive.

Ultimately, I think that Collin is absolutely right when he offers the same advice that I give to students and anyone else who asks: when you’re working on some academic (or other) writing project, you should work on it every day, even if you can only work on it for a little bit. Of course, it’s a lot easier to give advice than to follow advice.

You know procrastination is a problem when…

… the “clean out the gutters over the garage” item on your “to do” list looks more appealing than the “finish revising chapter two” item.


I don’t know if this means I’ll be doing less blogging this month (I mean, after all, I just posted this message to my blog), but I think I have to admit I’ve got a bit of a problem here.

Okay, I’m gonna face it. The gutters can wait.