How to get back on track
You meant business. You gathered all of your research materials and notes. You came up with a plan and set a timeline. You had two solid sessions writing and made some good progress. Things were moving along. Yes, deadlines to disseminate your research and work were looming but the train was moving forward.
Then life started to intervene. Grades were due. Committee obligations materialized. Also, it was the summer. There was a family party that meant a long weekend away. The kids. Calls with your parents. Laundry. Maybe the train derailed at the next station. Could it get back on track?
We have all been there, whether its January 2nd with New Years’ Resolutions or just any old week on the calendar. Plans are set; promises are made. Until there is a blip.
First, do not despair.
This is life. We all hear about these hyper-productive writers and researchers that grind out eyepopping results at an inhuman pace. Most of us are not them. In fact, they are very much the anomaly rather than the rule.
Your blip is the norm for most of us. Life happens. Work obligations. Home or personal obligations. Accept that your writing can have fits and starts. I usually encourage people to include “scheduled” makeup days for this very reason.
Second, do not beat yourself up.
Acknowledge the miss and move on. Getting down on yourself will serve no one.
Third, do not use the miss as an excuse to stop.
The toughest day after you skipped a day in your schedule is the next day. “I am already behind. I am going to skip today and have some big makeup day next week.”
Do not do it. Just keep doing what you were planning to do and ignore the blip.
Fourth, if you did not originally have a schedule and a plan, now might be the time to create one.
A schedule with digestible bites is the best. Try to be specific of what you will do any given day. Instead of saying, “Literature Search” say “Make appointment with the librarian,” “Search XYZ database,” “Read three articles,” “Prepare bibliography,” or the like.
Fifth, acknowledge the many balls you have in the air; professionally and personally.
You are impressive! Stay positive even in the face of a blip.
Sixth, rededicate yourself to the importance of your writing and research goals.
When it comes to your time at work, “Pay yourself first.” Do not let writing be that thing you always have to “get to.” Move it up to the top third of your priority list and let something else take the “optional” spots at the bottom. Let those things possibly fall off during a challenging week.
Now you’re back on track. Your destination is reestablished, and you are in charge. Misses are part of life. Accept them and move on and do not let blips be the boss.
John Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. Schedule an initial complimentary phone call at Publishing Fundamentals. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.” Contact him at email@example.com.