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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"It's like putting on a wet bathing suit."

No, that's not how I would describe my guest blawging return to Prawfs - in fact, I'm quite delighted to be invited back! Thanks to Dan and the others for extending the invitation once again.

But that phrase -- "like putting on a wet bathing suit" -- is how I once heard a colleague from another department describe the experience of returning to a piece of scholarship that one has set aside for too long. Suffice it to say I know the feeling.

But it is also a feeling I have had when I've written an article, subsequently stopped thinking about a particular question or topic for a period of time, and then attempt to return and write about the same subject again. I often begin such "return" projects with a mild sense of dread mixed in with my excitement. As someone who writes in two relatively distinct areas of constitutional law (Religion Clauses and Substantive Due Process/Reproductive Rights), this problem can be magnified, as I delve into one area for a while, then return to build on a previous article in another area. Even worse, I am one of those people who unapologetically insist they need "big blocks of time" for writing, rather than doing a little each day. The latter technique surely has the advantage of keeping one's ideas top of mind.

Anyone else finding himself or herself in this sort of situation? Any remedies to suggest? I suppose sometimes the easiest thing to do is, well, just dive in.

Posted by Jessie Hill on October 6, 2010 at 09:32 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Hi Jessie,

Yeah, I think "just dive in" is about right. Like running when you haven't for a long time, restarting a project feels awful at first but gets better once you force it along for a while.

Related, there's a great article in the NYer this week about procrastination. Reading it is a great way to put off something you really need to do!

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_books_surowiecki

DF

Posted by: Dave | Oct 8, 2010 1:09:52 AM

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