My family and I have been back in the U.S. for three months now, and I’m really struggling to find a new workflow rhythm. The transition back was crazy, as most transitions are. But now we’re mostly settled. The kids are in a new daycare, my husband started his new job, we moved to a new city, but I just can’t find a new groove.
The PhD happens in stages. First, there’s coursework, then you’re trying to write a proposal for your own research project, then you’re hustling to collect data, then you write up your findings. So right now, I need to figure out what my findings are and just…write. But I’m so stuck. Throughout my grad school career, I’ve had something to structure my time: classes, infants, a target number of interviews I needed to do. Now, there’s just time and open space to write – and I have no idea what to do with that.
I think it’s harder than I thought it would be to live in Fayetteville, NC. First, I’m away from my intellectual/professional community at Duke, and that really makes a difference. Second, as of now, I have no friends in my new city. Otherwise, I could structure my day around lunch dates and coffee meetings. Third, we’re still in financial “recovery” from making an international move…so I can’t de-stress by randomly spending money at Target or eating out all the time.
Anyway, I presented at a professional conference in Chicago and that was invigorating. I shared my ideas and got helpful feedback on a specific project. I was energized and ready to get going again…and then I got back to Fayetteville where the rolling ball came to a screeching halt.
So, what am I to do? I’ve decided to try a few things:
- Go back to Duke once each week. Attend talks, share my own work, and schedule meetings with people. This might help me stay focused and engaged as I wade through my data. It’s an hour and a half drive one way, but one day a week is doable.
- Create accountability groups. Setting weekly, monthly, and semester goals has worked well for me in the past. I have friends/colleagues who are also writing so monthly check-ins with them can help me stay on track.
- Make friends in Fayetteville. This one might be the most difficult. I already have friends. They just don’t live in my city. So the thought of making new friends makes me scoff and roll my eyes. However, I think I need social interaction where I live. *sigh* So, I’ll try to be open-minded. Wish me luck!
What strategies work for you when you have writer’s block?
*image credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/fa/04/f9/fa04f9e060ad8859030c1c965d2343ac.jpg