I don’t try to kid myself that I’m going to work eight straight hours a day in the summer.
My brain doesn’t work like that, especially when it comes to any sort of writing task. I can sit in front of the computer for hours on end, of course, but I won’t be working on a manuscript the entire time, I assure you. I can sustain about three hours, at most, of focused writing or revising or editing before I need multiple hours of doing something else. I’ll come back to the computer, even it’s 10:00 at night, but I need that break.
So goes my day. I started with a half hour of emails before going to a doctor’s appointment (which took much longer than necessary, for no particular reason), then ran by the library before meeting a friend for lunch. We sat and talked almost an hour about recent educational happenings (re: crazy shit) in our state and beyond before I made my way home.
Round 1 at the computer: After I got some emails and admin tasks out of the way, I worked through one of my author’s chapters to provide feedback. I’m a detail-oriented editor, so I’m slow, but (I think) I’m good at it. I like the puzzle of editing, figuring out how to make something better or clearer or shorter or tighter. There’s a difference in editing strong work that needs finessing and editing weaker work that needs everything; this was a good chapter that required me to really consider how it might be improved. That took a few hours, by which point I needed a break. So, I popped some popcorn and went to the sofa with a book.
Round 2 at the computer: After a few hours reading, I sat back down with another chapter. Once again, a very good chapter, making me think about how to tighten it up. This one was written by a former student, which I realize makes me approach it with a slightly different eye. I’m more willing to focus on the minutiae because I still see it as a teaching opportunity. The other chapter was written by a colleague; that’s more an effort of collaboration – not that the former student’s chapter isn’t also collaborative but you get it – which means I’m still focused but less likely to edit at the granular level.
So I finish the day, having edited two chapters, sent innumerable emails, polished and submitted an administrative memo and completed some programmatic paperwork. All total, I probably worked more than eight hours, just at my own pace, in my own way.
And that, my friend, is the beauty of an academic summer.