Saturday, 14 May 2011

the (not so) simple act of saying something

You would think, after twenty years of speaking (latterly, writing) I would be fairly confident in putting over a point or two. Being a research student and academic sort of requires that. The honest thing is, I am struggling with it a bit at the moment, and I've caught myself saying 'I just don't think I can do it' more than once this week. It's playing on my mind.

I just had a thought: most of my drive to communicate has been to connect with people, not to put across a carefully reasoned argument. I'm happier with emotions; which why I love mentoring people as part of professional programmes. Don't get me wrong, I've written a whole stack of essays and given a few million lectures more recently over the years but I feel the need to step up again. This time, it's about 'putting something out there', and I'm not quite prepared on some levels.

I suspect a few of us have those moments, but you see, when it's you sitting down thinking about writing an academic paper it can be paralysing. I'm determined to get past that - I need to, to get that PhD - but doing that for me means I must find that confidence to speak out in a busy academic field populated with people who seem to speak rather authoritatively. Some of them work with me!

A bit of context: I spent some time this week summarising some recent reading. I've got through quite a few books and journal articles, but wanted to 'map out' the ideas I've come across and get that lightbulb moment that would help me write the journal article I've been avoiding for weeks. I didn't have it, and I was so unimpressed at myself. I thought: 'that's it! I really don't have a grasp of it: I don't have anything to say!.

I realise that this PhD journey is not just about accumulating knowledge, even careful critical analysis; it's also about allowing myself to say something whilst 'being myself'. Being a person who is hard on themselves, I also think I need to give myself space (physically and mentally) to start writing something, and look less at the clever stuff around me. 

I blame the film I watched this evening with my wife and in laws. We watched 'The Kings Speech' and it made me think; yes, it's hard work and I not believe in myself most of the time, but the things I've achieved have often been because I just did it. 

Advice from you clever brave writers out there, please.