Monday, October 29, 2012

Starting over / starting out

I recently sold off most of my knitting supplies; over the years, I'd amassed some needles, some not-small quantity of yarn, some books, all of which sat mostly unused in a big wicker box. In a need to have some extra funds and also a desire to de-clutter, that whole stash went to another knitter. I figured that, since I never became the knitter that I (thought I) wanted to be, I just wouldn't want to knit.

Perhaps interestingly, perhaps predictably: since that point, I have found a desire to knit. So, I've bought enough yarn for a few very specific projects, and the needles (nice ones this time, no metal, no acrylic) for them, and I've diligently yet non-manically worked on said projects. I might actually even be getting decent at it, but I'm also not too worried about that.

I think I understand what might be at play here.

I have this tendency to expect great things, and to get frustrated and/or discouraged when a project requires more than headlong effort. That is, short-term and high-intensity efforts come easily, naturally to me, but longer-term, more painstaking, more process-based projects have the tendency to: a) be put aside as there are always some of those high-needs efforts around the corner; b) become built up so much that they seem insurmountable.

And guess what kind of project a dissertation is?

For several months now, I have felt guilty at my incredibly slow progress on this particular project. Like, non-existent progress. It's not that I am not thinking, not reading - I *am* doing both of those - but rather that I let my good energy, my really thoughtful, useful, creative energy, become subsumed with the quick-draw jobs, and then I feel even more guilty... So it's a laughably vicious circle. I have the inability right now to think of myself as a writer, so I'm not writing.

I've known now for a while that I really need to change this mindset if I ever want to finish the PhD. But the pep talks that I've given myself haven't worked, and the guilt grows ever greater. I'm thinking now that maybe one of the things that I need to do is change the stakes. Give up the stash, so to speak.

So I'm going back to reading, and taking notes, and not worrying about the Project. No worries about what I haven't read, need to read, should have read more closely - those completionist projects are part of what got me to this standstill. Instead, I'll focus on the details, and hope that this practice can create some new ways of approaching the work. And I'll also keep knitting.