Word cluster

A blog about getting into a writing habit

My name is Francisca Concha-Ramírez and I am a PhD at Leiden Observatory. I do computational astrophysics and I also write a lot, but I want to write better.
This is my personal blog to document my writing up and downs. For my work/CV website, click here.

To learn why I started this blog, and see my writing plan and rules, check out this post.



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20 August 2018

Some crazy weeks

[ writing  habits  planning  phd-life  anxiety  mental-health  work-life-balance  hobonichi-techo  ]

by Francisca Concha-Ramírez

The last weeks have been a little crazy, and it will keep being like that for at least a couple more. So I’m going easy on myself, trying not to force myself to do too many things that are not really necessary.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking an intensive Dutch course in the mornings, which is taking way more time than I had originally planned for it and I mean WAY more. Who’d think that an intensive course would be this intensive, huh?

I had originally planned that I would go to Dutch class in the mornings and then go to work in the afternoons. But it turns out I have a lot of homework to do every day, and it takes me more than one hour to do it, usually two. The first days I went to the office after class and left the homework and studying for after dinner, but that ended up with me going to bed super late and having a really hard time waking up in the mornings (the classes start at 9 am which is awful for me). Some days I tried to do my homework first and then work, but after finishing it I would be so tired that my brain would not be able to think much. This also coincided with some very warm days (30+ degrees C) which was a terrible combination.

So, in the end I decided to take it easy. The Dutch course only lasts three weeks (this is my last one!). Nobody’s going to die if I work slow for three weeks. So, after my classes, I do my homework, take a little break, browse astro-ph and tackle any small task on my trello board that feels achievable. So it has been going slow, but by focusing just on small tasks it was also been going well. This means that my work-related writing blocks have been inexistent though.

On the other hand, besides the Dutch course I am dealing with an overseas moving. My boyfriend is moving to the US in two weeks, and I am going to stay with him there for the first month. We currently live together, so we’ve been dealing with having people over to see the house, packing, moving and getting rid of furniture, de-cluttering the house, and deep-cleaning it. This has also taken way more time and dedication than I had originally expected. Our schedule is super tight for the next two weeks so there are things that we really can not postpone. That has also been taking up a lot of my time and energy.

Of course, to top it all, my anxiety has been through the roof. Especially on the first days of the Dutch course, I was extremely worried about “not working at all”. I was also worried that I was not studying enough Dutch. I am feeling better about my work now, but I am still stressed about it. And the whole moving/trip is adding loads more worries. My current situation is anxiety galore. I feel I have been coping with it… okay-ish. I’ve had a few bursts and whatnot, and I feel like these last days I’ve been having constant stomach and head aches, but in general I am dealing with it. Or, more than dealing with it, I am accepting it. I have several stressful things going on right now and it is totally ok to be anxious and nervous about them! No big deal!

Needless to say, I have not been keeping up with my writing. However I have a very nice writing achievement: last week I finished and published an article for my astronomy outreach blog, which I had started months ago! And I also started a couple of new ones. So, yay for small but important writing achievements!

Now, the fact that I have not been writing as much as I’d like to does not mean that I have not been thinking about writing. On my previous post I mentioned that I was not too happy with my system for tracking writing blocks. Last week I came up with a very nice solution on my Hobonichi Techo planner: using the empty space on the left side of the monthly view!


I got inspired by some posts on Hobonichi Facebook groups, and I noticed that each month I had a lot of empty space on that page. Each week is six squares high, so I track each day of the week + the weekend in just one row. I must warn you though, the picture above is a total lie: on the week of the 13th of August I only did like half an hour writing for my outreach blog. I incorrectly copied the blocks from the week of the 6th of August into that week. And I said copied because I am also now tracking the writing blocks on my daily pages:


I am really liking the combination of these tracking systems. They also allow me to take notes next to each planned squared, so I can know if I need to write about anything specific.

I planned some writing blocks for this week and one for the next (since I need to publish a podcast episode on the 31st), but I am mostly going to wing it and see what I feel like. This is probably the opposite of working towards building an habit, but my mental health is the priority right now.

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