When I was a kid, I hated food. All and any kinds of food. The mere smell of food would make me gag. I spent more time dry heaving when I was a child than doing pretty much anything else. You wouldn't guess this if you met me today, but that's how it was. The only kind of food that I loved were these Baltic sprats that you can see on the picture. So whenever I was served a plate of food that included the sprats, I would think to myself, "OK, so I will first force myself to eat all this nasty stuff so that it doesn't cloud my enjoyment of the lovely sprats. When I'm finally done with the food I hate, I will be able to dedicate myself fully to the delightful food that I like."
Of course, after I managed to force down the food that I hated, all I felt like doing was throwing up and couldn't eat the sprats. "This is very strange," my mother would say. "I gave you the sprats because I know you love them but you ate everything else and left them behind."
The reason why I'm telling you this otherwise boring story is that I still have a severe case of sprats when it comes to doing research. To give an example, this week I had some writing planned that I've been dying to do. Thinking about how I would finally sit down and dedicate myself to this truly enjoyable piece of work was the highlight of my week. I simply couldn't wait to get started. Of course, I decided that first I needed to get all the other, boring stuff out of the way so that I would be able to proceed to do my research undisturbed by the unpleasant tasks I needed to perform. So I started on the unpleasant tasks, hating them passionately for keeping me from the enjoyable research. A lot of time was spent on complaining and moaning to everybody in and out of sight about how these nasty tasks were getting in the way of me doing what I really wanted to do. In the meanwhile, more of these little unpleasant assignments kept cropping up.
When I finally finished the unpleasant assignments and sat down to my writing, I discovered that I was so drained that I could make no sense of what my own text was saying.
I blame the sprats.
This post was inspired by a great article at Thomas Basbøll's blog that you can find here.