As my fellow correspondent Ian wrote for Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo on Twitter), we each appear to have our ideal place in which to write. Personally, I feel deeply indebted to cafes around Nottinghamshire, the UK and beyond, for the completion of my doctoral thesis. Because unlike Ian, I find it pretty much impossible to write at home – or, in fact, in my office. I think this might be due to my love of pen and paper: I’ve tried to write straight to the computer, but somehow nothing seems to flow quite as well. But that’s a different story…
In keeping with the style of Ian’s blog post, I present a typical day of attempting to write from home.
5.15am (0 words written)
Armed with a cup of coffee, I sit in bed and think about what I might be writing today. Having recently completed my PhD, I’m at that difficult stage of trying to produce neat packages of words that can be sent off for peer review (a terrifying thought in itself).
6.15am (0 words written)
Time to get the youngest of my children up, for her daily train ride to Hogwart’s – sorry, Lincoln. I’m still having a think about what to write today, but the coffee was lovely.
7.20am (0 words written)
The youngest is safely off to school, and I’m now engaged in the daily struggle to extract the teenagers from their beds. In between yelling up the stairs and threatening them with loud recorder playing (a sure fire way to get them out of their pits, but so cruel that I use it only as a last resort), I get the laptop out and write a title for today’s document.
8.00am (10 words written)
Well, the title looks good, but I’ve spent much of the past half an hour nagging the teenagers. Got your lunch? Got your bus pass? Got your coat? (All mothers know this series of questions!)
Right, they’re out of the door – now, where was I?
8.45am (10 words written)
I may not have written any more words, but the kitchen no longer looks like a tribe of barbarians just meandered through it. Breakfast things all cleared away, dishwasher on, cats fed.
So, down to work – off to the study.
9.30am (10 words written)
Again, no more words produced, but at least I can actually sit down in my study now. The teenagers have been using it as an extra space. I say space, but I mean dumping ground.
10.30am (100 words written)
Hurrah, abstract done. Now, definitely time for an injection of caffeine. Oh, and I’ve just realised I’m still in my pj’s!
11.00am (100 words written)
Washed, dressed, bedroom tidied, a load of clothes in the washing machine, coffee at hand. Think I’ll just check my emails…
12.00pm (100 words written)
Checking emails was a definite mistake. One from my boss: Bernie, could you just have a look at the literature on…
The front door opens, and behold, a husband who wants to have lunch with me. You know, seeing as I’m working from home (!!)
1.30pm (100 words written)
Lunch eaten, kitchen cleared again, alone at last (apart from the cat, who really, really wants to help with the whole typing thing).
Down to work…
3.00pm (500 words written)
Brilliant! Words on a page! Unfortunately, I’m so unfocused, I’ve just produced abstracts for five articles. Off to hoover the music room for my husband – you know, because I’m working from home…
3.30pm (500 words written)
The first of my husband’s piano pupils arrives. I get my headphones out…
4.30pm (700 words written)
The teenagers arrive home. Strangely, even closing my study door is not effective in keeping them away. When they were tiny, I could never get out of them what fun things they had done at school. Nowadays, my feeble attempts at ‘I’m working, you know’, are thwarted by my delight at their enthusiastic tales of the bus and their social lives…
5.00pm (700 words written)
Off to pick up the youngest from the train station. It falls to me today– you know, because I’m working from home…
6.00pm (700 words written)
No more words have been produced. But I’ve made a very nice dinner.
9.00pm (700 words written)
My husband looks at me with a baleful expression as I try to sneak back to the study. Really? You have to work in the evening? But you’ve been at it all day!
So, does this resonate with anyone out there?
Let us know where you write best and any tips or tricks you have to share by commenting below or on Twitter @Piirus_com, with the hashtag #piirustips
Post by Bernie Divall, Social Science Correspondent
Bernadette Divall (Bernie) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in maternity care at the University of Nottingham’s School of Health Sciences. She is currently working towards establishing a panel of service users who will inform research undertaken within the maternal health research group. Right now she is enjoying the glow of having recently passed her PhD, which centred on narratives of identity, specifically clinical leadership in midwifery. Away from the world of funding bids and publication worries, Bernie spends her time raising three children, tap dancing, feeding people, crocheting tiny animals, and generally being sociable.