Useful procrastination(?)

I jotted down some thoughts about what I wanted to do today this morning.


I felt good with myself because it included two things I desperately need to do: read and write. Reading I have been very good at lately. I have never really been. But in the last two weeks I have been awesome. I have started to feel I am reading so much and so well just so I don’t have to go into point two of that mini to-do list: writing. I need to write – but everything, right now, seems more appealing. I am, however, not the first person to be in this particular mind loop, judging by the stuff on Shit Academics Say.


It’s Thursday, and the weather outside, by Glasgow standards, is pretty nice – 13 degrees and clear, sunny skies. I went for lunch and had a long, productive conversation with PhD in AVT, who had just been at a workshop this morning.

Now being at a workshop is dangerous – awesome but unproductive ideas can come to you at any time after you leave the classroom. We discussed a few topics all related to research – mainly related to writing (or to not writing). We have fiddled about with the idea of setting up our own Shut up and write group, but we seem to be still quite immobile as a group – ideas are good, action on them is slow.

The idea that came up from our conversation was to set up a Peer Feedback Group, as a counterpoint to the SU&W idea. We went through all the specific points, and even discussed smaller details when one of our colleagues pointed at particular pitfalls in our plan. So it’s fair to say that what was set up for an afternoon of potential writing (mind you, perhaps one sentence or two), it has now cascaded into putting together a proposal for both our colleagues and the school about our writing group ideas.

This is fantastic, of course. But how much of a distraction is it? Are we awesome at organising communal things or we are just very good at procrastinating?

I am a self-confessed PhD/research-blog-reader. I love reading about research, as opposed to doing any. I love books about reading, and #phdchat and #acwri discussions. Again, as opposed to writing any sort of research. I feel this might be a bit odd (like loving books on literary criticism but not reading any actual literature), but I suppose that if I want to make a career out of this, it’s good to be informed. I am also a keen early adopter of new techniques. If anyone tells me to try something different with my research, I will – even if that implies taking an entire afternoon changing references from one bibliographic system into another. In some ways doing something new, in a different way, is like having a new toy, only in an academic-y, boring environment.

This obsession for new articles to read and new things to try is, in a way, a massive procrastinating factor of mine. I know this. I have assumed the fact that, some times, I just need to read another post about writing or note taking so that I can try it again and see if it works this time. I enjoy this form of procrastination more than dwelling on Facebook or watching videos of cats. It’s terrible. Yet I cannot avoid it.

Does knowing more about the perks of doing research help me do any good research at all? Well, this is a bit of a difficult point to argue. It’s like the old adage of if you can’t do it, teach it. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t. In certain days, it can definitely get in the way. I try my best to focus on the actual research but there are days that only cats on the internet will occupy my brain span. It’s just the way it is. There’s no point in fighting it at times. What I know, though, is that at least I have a wider knowledge of what is expected of me, and what is involved in conducting research, and hence all the acquired knowledge has guided me towards getting certain things done correctly over the past two and a half years. Or else I have spent some really entertained afternoons pretending I am doing actual research, which is also cool.

I don’t know if our ideas for a Shut up and write and Peer feedback group will work out the way we want to, but certainly they are good initiatives to tackle a problem that me and PhD in AVT seem to have. Which is summarized so well again by Shit Academics Say.




  1. Pingback: The PFG | PhD in AVT

  2. Pingback: Shut Up and Write – a promising start | Mongrel PhD

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