Sunday, March 23, 2008

Two faces of one coin

Sometimes it's an annoyance to think of working on this blog--what to say? I don't always have deep thoughts, or even thoughts that I think are worth sharing (which, of course, would not be a first in the blogosphere). But the discipline is good--I feel good for having gotten in and made the effort. What comes out may not be good--the result may not be good--but the process itself can be seen as a result, and the more important one.

This may well be true of the dissertation, too, even though a dissertation obviously has a lot more riding on it than a blog posting.

We can look at the value of receiving a degree--it's not inconsiderable. But how does that measure up against developing productive and pleasurable work habits? The work habits will be with you where ever you go and whatever you do.

Working on a writing project can be like this, especially if you have become disenchanted. The idea of working on it isn't fun; the idea of working on it may be a possible source of pain. But that is an indication of the state of the work process: to the extent that it seems likely to be unpleasant to work, you have a sign that indicates that your work process and your relationship with your work can be improved.

On one face is the unpleasant aspect; on the other is the pleasant aspect.
For me, in this blog, the unpleasantness is minor: I force myself to write even when I'm tired or otherwise lacking enthusiasm. And the pleasantness outweighs it. I feel good just for having brought myself to the process. I also feel good when someone finds something useful in what I've written.
For a dissertation writer, the unpleasantness is probably greater: the dissertation project may have years of emotion energy invested, not to mention disenchantment. But the payoff can be greater, too: a degree, and maybe a new, better relationship with your work.

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