That paralysing doubt

A generic beach photo from my holiday to illustrate how unreasonable my disappointment is

I am just back after over a week of holidays. I packed some interesting reading, hung out in the slightly humid warmth, talked a lot and structured my day around walks, swims and meals. It was great. Plus, as it was not enough time to de-stress, I did not get sick.

Yet I have come back more anxious about writing and working out what I should be doing than ever. In some ways having free days to just think and do whatever has made me even more worried. This is just silly. I had a holiday because (even though it is only because I live in a place like Australia) I am entitled to time off. There are other things in my life other than keeping up some basic standard in my project, work and house keeping. That I enjoyed reading some stuff that I wanted to read for uni anyway just demonstrates how lucky I am to being working on something I would do for fun. I cannot evaluate everything based on whether or not it contributes to my project.

I think a bit of doubt about my observations, interpretations and writing are good for me because they encourage me to find links with the work of others and explore alternatives. However, being paralysed is really only going to lead to chewed nails and general crankiness.

Maybe my drafts are going to be painful and stodgy, but that is why they will be drafts and I will get them done with plenty of time to reflect and seek feedback. I do need to feel annoyed at myself if in an entire morning of writing I have only come up with three sentences that look a lot like the same pointless three sentences I wrote two weeks go. However, I need to use this frustration to encourage myself to foster better habits.

I do not know whether I will find the clarity I am searching for, but I do know a thing or two about my own work habits. I know I work best on those ‘I just need to get this thing written’ types of tasks very first thing in the morning, so I need to set my alarm and quarantine those first two hours for that sort of work.

It is not certain yet that I cannot do this whole ‘write a thesis’ thing, but it will take work to prove that I can (or even that I cannot, but it has got to be better than just doubting). Removing some of the mystery of how I expect myself to do it could be one way of avoiding paralysis. A ‘writing diary’ is an idea I toyed with from my first weeks of candidature, but something I have never done (possibly because I doubted the value and whether I would have the discipline).

These are not really the ‘what is the meaning of life’ type doubts, so chances are that with a bit of work and self discipline I can find out either way.


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