So often we hear academics describe being motivated by the pit of anxiety in their stomach and saying it is part of the job, that it creates a sort of productive anxiety. They can’t let go; they never stop thinking about work. This BBC Radio 4 podcast interviewing a World Cup rugby player may feel a distant cry from academic writing, until you notice it has a lot to do with assumptions about what makes us write well.
Jonny Wilkinson’s reflections on ‘obsession’ and ‘control’ offers a fascinating reflection on what kind of state we need to be in to ‘perform’ well. He describes how mistaken he had been as a player. His fear had led to an unhealthy obsession, a sense of needing to control, and he was convinced he had to be in that mode to perform well – he needed the pressure. He found peace, and performed at his best, once he stopped trying to control everything.
We suggest this podcast as a really helpful reflection on the role of pressure and what it means to see pressure as a product of thinking rather than reality. It is also a helpful reflection on the value of finding flow now, not expecting to feel satisfaction and happiness once you’ve achieved your goal. What state do you really need to be in to write well? What do you need to let go of, what do you need to be in touch with?
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