A reasonably-sized novel

This post marks the half-year point of daily blogging. I started off on the 30th of January, caused by my dissatisfaction with the amount of writing I (get to) do for my job as a scientist. There is just so much – what would you call it – noise? The job supposedly comes with a lot of writing, but it sometimes feels that I am always running back and forth dousing fires everywhere I go. On the side, I run experiments as well, but mostly I’m a fire fighter. It felt like I wasn’t writing up much, especially not of stuff that I have been doing since I moved to Freising, Germany, a little over one and a half year ago. I know it’s normal to have a bit of a lag between experimenting and writing. However, I felt like I simply didn’t find the time to write up my own stuff in between my other tasks. I have written and revised some things over the past year that still stemmed from my PhD work, and there were some review pieces that I (co-)authored. However, many of these works were also written in an extra hour at the end of the day, or an hour that was started earlier. Most of the forty hour week was already filled with other things. That didn’t feel good, so I had to do something about it.

I don’t know how much you are supposed to devote to writing as a scientist. I guess it depends on many things, including the subject, how much you like it in general, or the number of successful experiments you complete? My judgement of this is entirely by gut feeling and personal preference. I would like to be writing thirty percent of my working time, or more if possible. Although I have become more agressive towards the protection of my own writing time during the work week, the thirty percent was (or often still is) certainly not happening. If you don’t practice, you won’t get better. You have to put in the work. Nobody is going to do it for you. To maintain the practice, I started this daily blog, with the dual purpose of churning out words to train ‘the muscle’, as well as to rant about the things I love, hate, and everything in between. Of course I could have started writing daily paragraphs for academic work, but I refuse to do this. As long as universities do not pay my additional hours, I will not supply them with manuscripts written in my own time. Besides, I have come to realize that writing a blog is usually more fun than writing a paper, and requires a hell of a lot less brain pain.

So this is post number 183. I wrote over 108.000 words in half a year. That’s the size of a reasonable novel of – I’m guessing – somewhere between two and three hundred pages.

Last week, I was a bit worried that maybe I would not be able to continue the daily blogging much longer. Not because I didn’t want to, but rather because I expected that the recent birth of my daughter would make it difficult to keep up with it. I was even considering the option to stop it entirely. I’m kind of ‘either-or’ with this. Either write every day, or not at all. I am too far on the OCD spectrum to miss a day, especially now that I have a solid streak. Interrupting that would forever be an eye sore to me. And so I decided to continue. This being the third post during my daughters new young life, I guess it works out fine. I will continue writing daily posts for as long as I enjoy writing them, and as long as I find stuff to write about. For now, I think I still have a few more posts in me, so we’ll see where this journey goes.

On to the one-year mark!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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