But it's gone well. I have just under 4,000w written up for my chapter now, some of it (legitimately) poached from binge-writing sessions earlier in the year. Of course, it's refusing to conform to the outline I've set for it and a lot of writing has involved musings on every other chapter other than the one I'd committed to for the week.
This morning, I rather optimistically committed to a very, very, very rough draft being ready by Sunday. Am I going to make it? I have no idea but here's what I think worked and why EdJoWriWe may just be a turning point for me:
1. Writing is becoming a daily habit
The biggest problem I had was to carve out the time I needed to write. Having done it for 5 days straight, I feel much more confident being able to do it again, perhaps not as intensively, but certainly more than a little every day. I've made and broken this commitment before loads of times, but this week has been different. I was able to block off distractions, fight off mid afternoon slumps (although I did have to put my head down for a nap Wednesday afternoon after realising that an entire paragraph I thought was lucid prose was neither lucid nor prose) and, crucially, avoid wasting time by checking out yet another productivity app or website article.
2. Knowing what I want to get done helps keep me on track
Like the maxim 'write regularly', setting daily goals for determining precisely what I wanted to write is one of those commonsensical must-do's beloved of project managers - and one that fell by the wayside more often than I care to admit. But making them, trying to stick with them and reviewing them as we have done every day, allowed me to recognise that an off-day is just that - one off-day. As long as I'm back at it quickly, habitually, I will move forward instead of standing still, paralysed with fear and self-doubt. I've 'cheated' a little - when I got overly specific (write introduction on why public spaces are important), it was easier to fail. But when I set my goal more generally (write 300w), it didn't matter where I wrote them - as long as I wrote something, somewhere on my thesis, 150w on one chapter and then another 150w on an entirely unrelated section in another chapter, it got me that many words closer to completing it than I was before.
3. It created a community of writers
When I signed up to EdJoWriWe, I imagined one of the nicer rooms in the Main Library, with lots of natural light, windows looking out onto the Meadows. G2, I did not, particularly because it feels like half my academic life is spent there anyway for seminars and suchlike. My office, too, is practically next door, so it didn't feel like a big enough change to get me out of a writing slump. But here's the thing - the actual space I worked in, (yes, I stayed put in G2), didn't really matter. Hunched over a precarious and fiddly table, I came to know all the other writers; we marked out our territories, on the floor, near windows and power plugs, chairs placed and shared just so, in order that we could plonk our papers and mugs, and settled into an easy, collegiate intimacy - we got to know who liked pomodoros, who preferred green tea, and which of us flitted in and out of that particular room to write at a specific time of day.
What rounded all these three elements together was our public accountability. It's easy to envisage writing every day as it is setting out daily goals in advance. And surely working in a shared office also creates a community. But were it not for the fact that we were all in this together, quite literally, committed to making something remarkable out of this week, silently egging each other on, rooting and clapping (for more than 6s!) for one other when we completed our goals for the day, then the process of writing would have been much, much harder than it already is.
I now know that I will finish my thesis. And that is perhaps EdJoWriWe's enduring gift to me. 'Nuff said. I'm now going to 'shut up and write'.
Communications restored with #edjowriwesatellite!. Alison managed to complete 350 words on Wednesday amidst the chaos of a house-move. She followed this with 1000 words on Thursday while fighting off a cold, and was aiming to plough through an additional 500 words at last check-in. Our intrepid satellite will submit a final report at the end of the week on her progress.