Of professors, binge-writing, tortoises, hares, foxes and hedgehogs

So, there’s an Aesopian fable to be re-written, perhaps?  Not so much with tortoises and hares, but (Berlin’s) foxes and hedgehogs.  But actually, surely it’s possible to both a fox and a tortoise?  A fortoise?   Is it possible to argue this a fortiori?

Among university professors, for example, getting tenure is a major hurdle and milestone, and at most universities tenure depends heavily on having published some high-quality, original work. One researcher, Bob Boice, looked into the writing habits of young professors just starting out and tracked them to see how they fared. Not surprisingly, in a job where there is no real boss and no one sets schedules or tells you what to do, these young professors took a variety of approaches. Some would collect information until they were ready and then write a manuscript in a burst of intense energy, over perhaps a week or two, possibly including some long days and very late nights. Others plodded along at a steadier pace, trying to write a page or two every day. Others were in between. When Boice followed up on the group some years later, he found that their paths had diverged sharply. The page-a-day folks had done well and generally gotten tenure. The so-called ‘binge writers’ fared far less well, and many had had their careers cut short. The clear implication was that the best advice for young writers and aspiring professors is: Write every day. Use your self-control to form a daily habit, and you’ll produce more with less effort in the long run.
(Baumeister and Tierney, 2011:158-9)

Baumeister, R. and Tierney, J. 2011. Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength. London: Penguin.


3 thoughts on “Of professors, binge-writing, tortoises, hares, foxes and hedgehogs

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  1. Suggest you consider the fable of the frogs who wanted a king. The following is not connected, but this fable explains Trump in a big way.

    What has gone missing in the battles inside the territory of thinking people is that they are not talking at all to people who feel left out. And those left out are the ones in charge now. It doesn’t matter that they’ve been deceived. It will be a long time before they realize they’ve been had, and meanwhile the rest of us need to get a trip.

    So please stop talking with each other, insulting those who are misinformed, and face outward. Make some friends, help some people, and hope.

  2. Hello Ms Anderson,

    um, too allusive for me. Re the frog –

    According to the earliest source, Phaedrus, the story concerns a group of frogs who called on the great god Zeus to send them a king. He threw down a log, which fell in their pond with a loud splash and terrified them. Eventually one of the frogs peeped above the water and, seeing that it was no longer moving, soon all hopped upon it and made fun of their king.

    Then the frogs made a second request for a real king and were sent a water snake that started eating them. Once more the frogs appealed to Zeus, but this time he replied that they must face the consequences of their request.

    In later variations of the story, the water snake is often replaced with a stork or heron.

    Okay. So, in this reading the frogs are going to get eaten. Yes, I think that you are right.

    Re: “battles inside the territory of thinking people is that they are not talking at all to people who feel left out.” Well, I have wasted a lot of breath, time, energy etc trying to get ‘the lefties’ and the ‘greenies’ to move from their boring shitty meeting and event formats. I’ve developed concepts like the smugosphere and ‘ego-fodder’ to describe how it is done, and proposed many many tweaks, big and small, to existing formats, and come up with some new formats of my own (e.g. novice lines). I don’t know if you are familiar with any of that, and that is what you are responding to/disliking, or something else?

    For example, have you come to this site because of my Trump and Climate Change policy article?

    Am all ears.

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