Writing about not writing: A mis-diagnosis



What is it about writer’s block that just cannot be broken for days and sometimes weeks on end? I’ve been suffering it for weeks now and not sure when it will end. I have been reading and thinking and procrastinating and even losing sleep over it. It’s like all of these great ideas are rolling around in my head and yet I cannot get them out.

Last week I facilitated a workshop for newly arrived international PhD students and heard myself telling them that if there is no writing then there is no review or feedback to get. I heard myself telling them more than once yet I am not doing it myself! Do as I say not as I do and all that. A terrible case of imposter syndrome has gripped me and I feel desperately desperate.

Many months ago just after my confirmation and a week before my main supervisor left for a 6 month sabbatical, she set me a mountain of work to do. I passed my first milestone – confirmation – without amendments and in fact the panel was suitably impressed but that was short lived once my supervisor was gone. In that time we took on another supervisor and parted amicably with our associate supervisor. I met with the new supervisor, acting chief, a couple of times to talk and discuss where to from confirmation. He helped me review my ethics paperwork which was granted four weeks later as was ethics application to Catholic Education Melbourne and I even have the principal’s support from the research school. And yet I cannot write.

Further to this, the mountain of work my main supervisor left me included to read more and write up my lit review and methodology chapters. I have been reading but the latter two I haven’t started, although as I sit in front of the television on my mobile phone typing this first draft I realise I have done a little writing on two topics maybe 800 words in all. Surely that’s not enough is it? I have read and taken notes on many articles and am reading off and on two books my co supervisor offered in our first meeting (he doesn’t know that).

Last week I re-visited my rejected article co-written (well … sort of) with a previous supervisor on my minor research looking at relationships between teachers and teacher aides. I’ve decided that I want to do it over on my own but different, so last week I spent two days listening to the interview tapes again and reading through the transcripts but I did not write. I did practice some opening lines in my head as I did the washing and cooking and cleaning and other procrastinations but I DID NOT write. Why?

All this I did as well as attending several meetings at Uni to do with my work not my PhD and re-working my workshop for non-funded students, prepping questions for our monthly #survivephd twitter chat, as well as working on a coaching model review for one school and preparing proposals for schools who are enquiring about professional learning in 2017.

I’m a part-time PhD student and am currently in a state of non-academic-writing … or am I?

Having just written this post here on a recliner on my iPhone, it makes me feel a whole lot better and in fact I may have mis-diagnosed my condition.

I don’t have writer’s block. I may have a little imposter syndrome but certainly not writer’s block.

Tomorrow I shall write some more.
Thanks for reading 🙂