This post comes from Rebekah Sheldon who earned her Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she did work on contemporary American catastrophe discourse. She is presently the Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
My husband lives a few hours south of me, in an eastern time-zone. So it was 7 am my time when he called to ask me to write two sentences on the political theorist Giorgio Agamben’s concept of bare life for a paper he’s writing. Now, two weeks ago, in the lead-up to a presentation on biopolitics and maternity, this same task took me several whole-day stretches before I gave up in disgust. This morning, however, out of the blue and with nothing at stake, I wrote two hundred words in less than half an hour.
They were not my most perfect sentences, but I got to the crux of the issue faster and more lucidly than I had in a week of working. In looking it over, I realized that I had just found my first AcBoWriMo strategy: the feint. Here’s what I propose as a way to trick myself into putting on paper what I know that I know:
On a bunch of paper scraps, write down writing tasks — anything from footnotes and edits to descriptions, analysis, and conclusions. Make them as specific or as general as your own needs and the needs of your audience. Mix them up in a basket or bag, and make sure to include a few rewards as well. Whenever you find yourself tempted to flip over to Facebook, or shifting the words around in the same few sentences, reach instead for the writing task bag. The important part is to do the task, whatever it is, as soon as you get it.
Or you can try Dacia Mitchell’s writing game instead, anything to keep those ideas flowing…