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academic PhD Life reflections work

the gift of pausing

On weekends, sometimes just Sunday some times Saturday and Sunday, I take a break from writing my dissertation. When you have been writing and thinking about something, in my case theology of traumatic affect, taking a break from it feels so strange! I started taking weekends off from writing when I noticed I was not enjoying writing. I would try to make myself write during the week with sheer force of my will power. It wasn’t fun. I wasn’t writing good stuff. That had to stop. So on one of those days, I took my hands off the keyboard, and just walked away. But it wasn’t enough in the beginning to take a day off. I kept trying to push through some kind of writer’s block. Then came one weekend. I was going to take one day off. And then the day of rest carried over to two days. I don’t even remember what I did that weekend.

Then on Monday morning, sitting at my desk my heart and head felt lighter. I wasn’t pushing myself to sit down and begin thinking, reading, and writing. I was actually looking forward to it. And everyday since that weekend off, I should say every weekday since that weekend off, I have been writing couple hours a day, usually starting within an hour or so of waking up. And then I started feeling like I had momentum and I had confidence when I came back to write next morning, and the next that I could start writing again. It’s been a few weeks? Perhaps a month since I took those two days off. Since then I stop writing, I pause on weekends.

Recently, I started noticing that I am having fun when I am writing! What? Are you allowed to have fun writing a dissertation? I thought PhD work was arduous and challenging and takes all of your life energy to write and to keep writing! I’m almost suspicious of the fun I am having. So friends, if you experience a burnout, pause and take a break. Take weekends off. Take that time to do whatever you feel like. Your body and brain will reward you with renewed energy and creativity when you come back to your work.

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