18 dic. 2007

Here's one thing I do: if I finish a chapter, as happened today, and I still have another ten minutes left in my scheduled writing time, I immediately start to work on some other section of the book. I don't just celebrate and stop working for the day. It's a way of letting the momentum carry you forward. That extra ten minutes of writing will produce some extra ideas in the shower the next morning.

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You've all heard of the professor who doesn't publish much, but his/her work is of high quality, etc... That's always seemed counter-intuitive to me. Such people do exist, as well as the proverbial academic who turns out huge quantities of bad material. But the general human pattern is that if you do more of any activity you'll get better at it. If you're good to begin with, you'll get better. Even the mediocre overproducer will probably get better over time. The brilliant person who writes one or two articles will never get to the that 10th or 20th article that is even better. So my second stupid motivational principle of the day is that quantity, intelligently managed, produces quality.

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I have some horrible work habits too. When I talk about how much I'm getting done you should understand that I am a lifelong procrastinator, very disorganized, who could have produced several more books in my career were it not for my essential laziness. I've always had the drive to publish, and have done enough for a successful academic career, but until recently I was not husbanding my efforts very effectively. I was actually holding myself back.