Know yourself and pace yourself – some thoughts on the temporalities of academic writing

This is an edited version of a discussion-starter presentation used at the UWS School of Social Sciences and Psychology writing retreat in November 2013, Kangaroo Valley. Thanks to Rae Dufty-Jones for the invitation. Thanks also to the group for sharing their own experiences and processes, many of which are very different from mine.

Let me first say that in academic life no one ever gives you time to write. Even though it is a core responsibility of the scholarly endeavour, there are always endless details and demands that will crowd in and demand priority. You have to carve out that time, and you have to wrest it somehow in the midst of all those other things that would fill your days. You also have to wrest some from those who have completely legitimate demands on you – your boss, your kids, your students. So if you are making the choice of a scholarly life, you are choosing not to do some other things, and not to do everything.

Here are some thoughts on how I have done it, remembering that everyone is different. (And here are the visual aids I used in the talk.)

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Shards of the past and seeds of the future

Pondering the details of everyday life in the Bronze Age, as I did in a post several weeks ago, took me back to a discussion between Nigel Clark and Michelle Bastian at the RGS-IBG conference in late August. They wondered how we might need to reassemble the shards of the past in different ways in the future. As I pack up to leave Gothenburg and head home, my head is spinning with ideas, comparisons and lists of things to do. So I will just present a few thoughts as disconnected shards that may or may not sit together in a strong stone wall.

Stone wall, Gotland. Photo: L. Head

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Call for papers RGS-IBG: Nature, time and environmental management

Conference session at the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, Annual conference, London, 28-30 August 2013

Nature, Time and Environmental Management

This session will explore how different concepts of time are embedded into understandings of nature and practices of environmental management. For example, anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity conservation and ecological restoration all contain implicit understandings of linear time – past, present and future. The attraction of the past has been particularly strong in these fields, but is under challenge with the more open and uncertain futures of the Anthropocene.
We seek papers that are attentive to, for example:

  • The intersecting temporalities of humans and nonhumans
  • Cyclic and nonlinear understandings of time and their implications for more than human engagements
  • Temporalities of climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Temporalities of natural and cultural heritage management practices

Both conceptual and empirical approaches are welcome.

Session convenors: Lesley Head (University of Wollongong), Gunhild Setten (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim), Marie Stenseke (University of Gothenburg)

A 250 word abstract should be emailed to Gunhild Setten,, and Marie Stenseke, by February 1, 2013.