One Hundred Words

imageOnce upon a time, 100 words would have been five minutes’ work. Once upon a time, academic writing was easy. Once upon a time, that feels like a long time ago.

Yesterday, I had a day clear of academic meetings. A day that I had set aside to work on writing my coursework assignment, amidst a tight plan to catch up with all the work I wasn’t doing when I was on sick leave. I wanted to get the whole piece drafted out.

It’s an essay task, and I love writing. It used to be bliss to dedicate a day to it, to choosing words, crafting an argument. I would lose the whole time in ‘flow’ and then wish that I hadn’t worked so fast, that it wasn’t yet finished. The essay would type itself. All 2 000 words of it. . ..

AlI I managed, for six hours’ work (or failed attempts at work), was 100 words.
I struggled continually to draw myself away from social media, from my office mate’s conversation with her student, from the urge to make more tea to drink. I was falling asleep. I didn’t feel like doing anything towards it. Started to tell myself I am a fraud. Lazy. Time-waster. Ruining the opportunities God has given to me. Should be grateful to even have a job. Good for nothing.

Someone reminded that I am not well. That 100 words is more than I could have done a few weeks ago. That it is a part of the whole. That each of those words count, and that I need to be less hard on myself. One hundred words is an achievement.

Today, I expected less of myself. Knew that I was unlikely to make much progress, given what happened before.  Aimed instead to write a paragraph. Wrote 200 words. Well, 214, to be exact. And delivered report to meeting. And submitted an acceptable research plan. Didn’t expect any of that. Being kind, scaling back expectations, is so hard, when I feel like I have choice over the decision not to concentrate. I still think I could have done more. But I am told it is what God wants, kindness. And I work better when I am kind to myself.

 

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