Sunday, May 25, 2008


... Or written as opposed to verbal diahorrhea.

From the New Yorker:

Writer’s block does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the official listing of all mental diseases recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Nor does its opposite extreme, hypergraphia, also known as “the midnight disease,” in which sufferers feel an obsessive compulsion to write.
I have always been a midnight writer throughout much of my academic career. The problem is not the time of the day (or night as the case may be) that one writes, but what one writes about. I really need to get off the procrastinating habit of blogging about politics. With each new development of global events and with each salvos fired in online debates I'm sucked in deeper and deeper, when I should be obsessing about fine-tuning my chapters.

I really admire Jane McGonigal who kept plugging away at her thesis, generating one best sentence every single day, right up to finishing her magnum opus. I sat down to write, but then started browsing the web for the latest news, and then I started to blog, and then I started to check out other blogs. This is not healthy, and would not get me to my finishing line.

I shall direct my hypergraphic energies to my thesis. Yes, a thesis, an argument for why the subject I investigated matter, how does it matter, and what should be done about it. Just last week I visited an elderly lady in hospital, she broke her hip when she fell while trying to put on her slippers. We sat and chatted, and we watched telly together for a while. She wondered what mango juice was, and I promised her that I would get her some from Marks and Spencer the next time I visit. I'm no longer collecting data, but you build up relationships over time, and you don't just stop caring.

Her existence and her experience matter, even as the world has too many more urgent issues to care about right now. And so I shall return to my chapters, because it is the only way I could help make their stories heard.

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At Mon May 26, 05:45:00 a.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

When I was younger, I found cigarettes and Coke (the beverage) somewhat helped. I remember writing my research paper on a green on black WordPerfect screen powered by an XT 386 clone running at 8Mhz or 16Mhz on turbo mode with a 5 and a 1/4 inch floppy drive. I don't remember what my distraction was back then. The web was practically non-existence. I think for 4 years of so I lived without a TV and my only entertainment was a radio and my audio cassette tapes. But I think I still got distracted but definitely not as easy as now.

Good luck with your thesis.

At Mon May 26, 06:09:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks so much LCL for your kind wishes and encouraging words. Ah, those simpler times when we had little electronic distractions... I had to say I miss my very first PC too which did not have a modem and had barely enough memory to run MS Word, but yet we went into so many battles together and it had never let me down...

Oh well, back to my thesis now :)


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