Because to be productive = to write in the ‘accountabalist’ university, perhaps the problem for scholars today, especially teaching scholars like myself, is how to make time to write — and how to make best use of that time.
For me, being or rather becoming productive as a scholarly writer is not about whether or not my “research environment” is productive; that is out of my control. Nor is it really about freedom from teaching or other pressures — a kind of negative freedom. Rather, it is about freeing myself to write: what might be called positive freedom. I am, I think, my own worst enemy when it comes to writing (and I’m sure this is the case with most academics — though they might not care . . . or dare to admit it). Or rather, if I am to write well — or, at least, better — the easiest place to start is with me.
Freeing myself to write, then, involves two tasks: learning to manage my time better to allow time for writing (see Boice 1997), and learning not to be too careful too early in the writing process to allow writing to do its work (see Elbow 2010). Because I know that once I start writing I never have trouble doing it, I must allow myself to write and to free write.
Here is the essay.