|Photo Courtesy Catherine Scott and Wikipedia Commons|
Back when I was in graduate school, my advisor approached me about giving a presentation at one of national chemical society meetings that were held each fall. I was reluctant at first. I was still in the early stages of my research project, which meant I didn’t have much data to present, and the meeting was only six months away. Basically, my advisor was asking me to commit to standing up in front of a whole bunch of people I didn’t know and talk about data that didn’t exist yet, with no guarantee that the data would exist in six months either.
In the end, I decided to go for it, thinking that the pressure to generate data would be a good thing for me. And needless to say, it worked. The fear that I wouldn’t have enough data to keep from embarrassing myself got me into the lab early every day (well…almost) and kept me there late in the evening. Fortunately, the Fates were kind to me, so by the time the summer was over, I had enough data for a pretty nice talk. Although this experience taught me how much I could accomplish if I put my mind to it, I promised myself I’d never put myself in that kind of situation again.
So here we are, many years later, and I’m about to break that promise. I didn’t meet my writing goals last year, and at my present pace, I’m not going to meet them this year either. Why? Because there’s not enough pressure on me to write faster. I do belong to two critique groups, which you’d think would help keep me motivated, but it’s too easy for me to tell them I won’t have anything ready until the next meeting.
No more. Not only have I joined another couple of writing groups, I’m now promising them (and myself) that I will have something for them to read every time we meet. Heck, a few days ago I agreed to submit the beginnings of my next chapter at tomorrow night’s crit group, and those pages didn’t even exist yet. Am I spending every spare second this week working on those pages? You bet. Nothing like a little peer pressure to get one’s creative juices flowing.
I just hope the Fates are as kind to me as they were the last time.