Somewhere on the wilderness of the World Wide Web I stumbled across this contemplation about comfort work by Austin Kleon. The idea was so relatable it made me contemplate not only how I work but also if framing things under this light might help with motivation during challenging times.
First things first. Austin Kleon defines comfort work as follows:
Comfort work must be comforting and it must be actual work. This sounds simple, but it’s an odd combination. Comfort work is work I’ve done before that I know I can do, but it still must present enough of a challenge to be considered actual work.Austin Kleon
Reframing writing as comfort
When I struggle to get started with writing or find time for writing. The stresses associated with the process, for me, often translate into barriers that eventually become insurmountable. Over the last year–as you can tell by the lack of posts here–I had become stuck behind these barriers.
Reframing writing as something I like to do. As comfort work, actually helped me overcome my writing block. I do not have more or less time to write than I had the last year, I just think about it differently.
Instead of feeling guilty because I have 56 blog posts in draft. I consider this an advantage.
It is an affordance.
Because I can just go and write a couple of sentences on one draft. And then let it rest. Mature. Be.
The same with publications. I have moved all papers into a folder that sits on top of my folder list, or I have them as draft in Notion. And it is easy to jump in and write for a bit.
I have begun the same system for reading, because it always feels as if there is no time for reading either!
Reclaiming writing as comfort work has helped to engage with it again. I have half an hour before a meeting and am done with emails, but I want to make a cup of tea, and it is not enough time to work on a project. I open a document or a blog draft and write for a bit.
Or I go back to the next paper on my reading list and either scan it, or read abstract, intro and conclusion. Making some notes.
And so, bit by bit, this academic writing month, I have posted 9 (about to be 10) blog posts. Most of which have been in draft for a very long time!