Sometimes when I get stuck, usually about a month before a deadline (I find I get really unstuck a week before and can write literally thousands of words a day). When that happens I find myself not doing the task in hand and filling my time (which is very easy to do) with all the other bits and bobs I kind of should do but are not exactly high priority (like say writing my blog).
Actually thinking about it it could be that these phases follow the meeting of a deadline.
As I guess most folks in the world of work have, and certainly in my line of work there seem to be, a constant stream of deadlines. For me these are conference papers, final reports and if lucky a journal article - they (the deadlines) seem to come thick and fast and sometimes it can feel a little relentless - (oh did I mention the self-inflicted personal research targets). More on this in a bit.
Anyway as you might have guessed I'm going through one of these phases right now and I have spent the last two days at an altogether relevant conference. The conference was the final showcase of projects funded through EQUAL (I am carrying out a piece of research looking at 'Soft indicators of distance travelled' on one of these projects which has been aiming to 'Challenge gender stereotypes in the workplace’). Anyway this proved to be a fascinating look into how a whole bunch of projects sort to do this. One of particular interest to me was a project that was looking at women returners (i.e. women who return to work having taken a career break following maternity leave/or extended childcare giving).
It specifically looked at women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) and there were some terrifying statistics. Something like (and please don't quote me) only 20% of female SET graduates return to a career in these sectors following childbirth! I know this is an issue within the creative industries also where the fast change of pace in certain sub-sectors can have a damaging effect on an individual’s confidence in their ability to perform or keep up with the changes in technology if they've had a significant break. I missed the URL so will have a look and see if I can find a link to the project in question. Again I don’t as yet have the evidence for this being entirely the case in the creative industries or know what impact there might be on a woman who is self-employed in one of these sectors. But my personal experience and my own research into this is beginning to suggest a link.
As for me was I procrastinating by going to the conference? after all I could have been sitting typing away, was I deliberately distracting myself from the task in hand or (and I like this one more) was I feeding my brain, listening, making new connections and hey fueling my own creativity?
Damn that's another 448 words that could have been in my report/chapter/paper agghh!