This is not procrastination (it is)

I thought that I would post some thoughts about this alien environment that I have found myself in. As a scientist trying to embrace a more creative practice, I’ve been finding it difficult to get away from my usual starting points for any project. My lab is shut; it as been since before this fellowship began, and I have not been in my “work” office for so long that I fear for all the plants on the window sill (and the potential lifeforms in my unwashed coffee cup). It really does feel like a a distant world, abandoned in a hurry. Almost every day I find myself looking for something that I left behind; something “essential” which turns out not to be essential after all. I supposed that this is what I wanted to get away from for this project, but I didn’t intend to abandon it entirely! It has forced me to take a different look at things and to explore areas that I wouldn’t have if I’d been in that familiar environment. The problem I have with this, is that without my usual kind of structure is that it feels like I’m just delaying getting down to collecting data, getting into the lab, starting the experiment. I’m finding new and often only lightly-related topics to explore everyday and although I know my research question, I’m no closer to answering it. In the past, I’d maybe make a note of these things and then forget about them: I knew my hypothesis, I knew my methods, I knew that these things were not important to my aim. But now, there is a very real chance that these things will form my hypothesis, shape my methods, and become my aim. I keep having to remind myself “this is not procrastination”. Except, well, it is. I have a broad research question, I have some methods that I need to develop, and there are several ways to apply them. I realised that developing the method is difficult, especially in the current climate, so I have convinced myself I should explore every rabbit hole of application I can find. So now I have a million ideas that all have the same roadblock; I don’t have a workable method! Well done me, I got there in the end. So this week I have gotten down to the task of developing my methods and making a list of all the things i need to fetch from my office once I am allowed.  I guess it was just about being honest with myself and although progress is slow, things are moving in the right direction.

I still miss the lab though!