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Finding motivation in the most unexpected places
June 12, 2012 - 9:30pm

Summer time is almost here and it is time to take a good and relaxing book and forget about the usual busy schedule of a normal day during the academic semester. However, for some of us, with academic interests but non-academic jobs, summer is the best time of the year to revisit old projects, apply for new funding and, eventually, find an academic job that will put an end to this schizophrenic way of working.

But, the chances of good scholarships and decent funding for a decent life have diminished considerably in the last months, at least in Europe, where many academic positions and funding opportunities were the first victims of the shaking fluctuations of the Euro. Thus, if you still want to keep a foot in the world of ideas, you can find a job which will not completely erase the years spent in the library preparing your Ph.D. thesis, but will waste a lot of time and energy that you should dedicate to writing and documenting new books and articles. In the morning, you can edit another person's writings or write content for technical websites, while in the evening until late in the night you can try to read and take notes for your academic ‘hobbies’.

With such a lifestyle, no wonder that sooner or later the fatigue will cut your enthusiasm to less than half and you will end up with a writer’s block that you can hardly cure. This is what happened to me recently and lasted for a couple of weeks. And it was not only the power to write which I needed, but also the inspiration to create the framework for writing. It did not happen before, or maybe if it did, it lasted for a couple of hours, not more.

For someone whose source of income is made by juggling well with words, such a situation could create various inconveniences, couldn’t it? Thus, I needed to find a do-it-yourself method to get back my enthusiasm and interest in getting back on the writing track.

The emergency measure was to suspend my daily schedule. I announced to my writers that there would be some small delays in delivering their editing requests, and took a big break. No computer, no social networks, no deadlines and pressure to finish in time. I took my camera and went out to take pictures for a couple of hours. My mind was immediately set in a different mood and the freedom of the day guaranteed that I should not worry if I stayed out too late. I continued with an exhibition, a coffee and a long discussion with an old friend. I enjoyed a long dinner and spend a couple of hours reading a novel without any interruption .

I continued the treatment for another two days and, relieved, I returned to the writing life gently and ready to continue the projects. As in many other serious circumstances, we are what we learn from our good or bad experiences. In this case, one of the lessons was that it is never late to find some time for yourself. It is always healthy to live according to a schedule – and I was educated to take care of how I use my time, and it is very hard to get rid of this good habit – but from time to time, a break will bring more creativity and clarity into your daily life. There is no chance that one day I will discover that I can live without writing, but at least I can find a fair balance between the pressure of a writing job and the pleasure of writing because nothing else is left.

Now, I think that this experience occurred exactly at the right moment when I needed more than ever to realize that it is about time to further my academic projects. Summer will bring me, for sure, more than the optimism of the sunny days.

Berlin, Germany

Ana Dinescu is a regular contributor toUniversityofVenusand a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.



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