Becoming a Writing Nomad -->

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Becoming a Writing Nomad

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I’ve been under deadline recently for an article I’m writing. This is a new situation for me, since it isn’t only a professor’s deadline I have to meet. This time, I have actual editors who expect my manuscript on time. Scary, right?

In anticipation of my procrastination, I took a few days off work to devote myself fully to reading, writing, and revising. I hoped that this intensive approach would help me complete the article on time.

I’ll give away the end of the story: I finished and submitted my article on time. Cue sighs of relief.

Those three days reminded me that writing and reading in such an intensive way is tough! More specifically, I realized that I get restless easily. I become bored with the music I’m listening to, the people around me, the table I’m sitting at, the thing I’m trying to do. You name it, I probably became restless with (and subsequently annoyed with) it during those three days.

Become a writing nomad

But, with all that boredom I knew I had to finish the draft. There wasn’t any extension waiting for me, and no possibility that I could leave the article half-finished. If I didn’t complete the article (and complete it well), at the very least I’d be disappointed with myself. At the most, I’d get kicked off the project.

What I also realized, though, is that my restlessness is normal. It’s just part of who I am and the way I write. But, here’s the secret: That’s okay!

It’s okay that I get restless because I worked around it by becoming what I like to jokingly call myself: A writing nomad. I found that it worked better for me to give into the restlessness periodically rather than pushing through and becoming even more distracted. When I noticed my focus waning, rather than look out the window every few minutes, I moved to a different location. I moved from the library to the coffee shop. Then, I moved back home. Once home, I went from my desk to my bedroom. Each time I moved locations, I gave my mind a mini break. Once I settled into the new location, I renewed my focus and energy. I was able to devote another burst of energy to my writing until I became restless again.

Whether you’re working on shorter assignments like discussion posts and course papers or longer drafts like final papers or a doctoral study, think about the last time you struggled to complete the assignment. Did you get distracted and restless like me? Maybe you, too, need to give yourself a change of scenery or a short break to re-energize and refocus. Try it—see if it works, and let us know in the comments!

Beth Oyler , the Writing Center's webinars guru, recently celebrated her three-year anniversary with Walden.

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