Ponder

September 25, 2011

My grant writing episodes are always punctuated by days in which nothing gets accomplished and days of nearly obscene productivity and progress.

It is never clear to me why I cannot have all of the latter.

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  1. leigh Says:

    …same reason you don’t have all of the former?

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  2. AcademicLurker Says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my time spent staring at the word document, adding a sentence and then deleting it, going on the web to search for papers, staring at the word document…& etc. is somehow a necessary preparation for the huge burst of writing that eventually follows. Your mind is working on organizing and phrasing your arguments while you’re seemingly just spinning your wheels.

    At least I’d like to believe that. Otherwise I just waste a lot of time.

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  3. What academic lurker said is exactly correct. While procrastination is real, for many writers what looks (and can feel) like procrastination really involves substantial subconscious effort that then enables the excellent flow of the words during the “real writing” period.

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  4. Dr Becca Says:

    What AL and CPP describe is exactly what happens to me. I’m writing a grant now (my first as a solo PI!) and it’s been pretty darn excruciating. I feel like I spend tons of time just staring at a blinking cursor, but when my fingers do manage to put something down, it’s usually in pretty good shape. I’ve never been one of those people who can just vomit words and then tidy things up later (which may be why I never latched onto the whole #madwriting thing)–the words come when they’re ready.

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  5. Joat-mon Says:

    I am the fast and furious type, especially when I am writing the “Approach” section. There must be something wrong with me too — I actually love grant-writing. I really like coming up with new ideas and putting them in writing. It clears my head and give me a sense of accomplishment.

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  6. I’ve never been one of those people who can just vomit words and then tidy things up later (which may be why I never latched onto the whole #madwriting thing)–the words come when they’re ready.

    Interesting additional point, as when I, too, do put fingers to keyboard, what comes out is already extremely well-formed.

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  7. Watcher Says:

    So, will not have to “revise and resubmit the motherfucher”..HAHAHHAHAHAAAAAA!

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  8. New Asst. Prof. Says:

    On point, everyone. I think there’s a great deal of hidden value in those periods of procrastination that occur before a big burst of productive writing. I often procrastinate by emerging from my office to offer to do the autoclaving, put away orders, etc., and my lab members just shake their heads and laugh at me.

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  9. Joe Says:

    Is it just grant writing or is it all writing that is this way for you? (All my writing is like that).

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  10. drugmonkey Says:

    Perhaps because the deadlines are so clear, I notice it more with grant writing. Alternately, there is a higher ratio of incremental work on methods, figures and results narrative on manuscripts so I can always turn to that when uninspired to write Discussion.

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  11. drugmonkey Says:

    Joat-mon- I never said that I don’t like grant writing. The fact that it is not always easy, and can be frustratingly nonlinear, doesn’t make me hate the process.

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  12. Lance Turtle Says:

    At least I’m not the only one…..

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  13. Joat-mon Says:

    DM, I apologize; I didn’t mean to be offensive. Though, I do wonder how many of us actually enjoy the process.

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  14. iGrrrl Says:

    Joat-mon, the most successful scientists I know, with respect to both productivity and funding, tell me they enjoy writing grants. It usually comes down to one reason: They view the writing of the grant as an opportunity to think about their research in a bigger way than the day-to-day management of a laboratory or research group. When I give a seminar on grant writing, I try to get this point across. When you use the process of writing a grant to think about your research, you end up doing a lot of hard/fun thinking and end up with a grant application. This can have an impact on your research productivity, and changes your attitude about grant writing so that it isn’t an imposition on your time.

    Of course, this works best if you start a year ahead of when you want to submit your R01. /ducks/

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  15. Joat-mon Says:

    iGrrrl, thank you for sharing.

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