While I am ever so slowly getting back into my chapter (and getting excited about the topic once more), the dissertation writing process frequently feels like a lonesome task. And it is lonely, particularly as I am focusing on my dissertation rather than teaching this academic year. While I certainly don’t miss the hassle of course preparation, lesson planning, and grading, interacting with students and other instructors is a method of getting away from the solo business of writing and focusing on something else; in my world (and I assume in that of many other academics), teaching can become a research break that forces me to stop thinking about my chapters.
But what do you do when you aren’t teaching? The guilt of not working on my dissertation is ridiculous, especially when I can’t claim other types of productivity. Moreover, while I’m happy to be done with coursework, I do miss being a student and the joy of learning. Enter the community center introduction to watercolors class.
My community center art class has proven to be a great method of forcing myself to relax and forget about my dissertation for at least a few hours a week. There are many reasons for this:
- It’s fun.
- I’m paying for the class so I’m going to attend the class because, like most grad students, I have a tight budget. But, the class is not nearly as expensive as a college course so it actually fits within my budget. Supplies were also affordable, which is why I chose watercolors over the more expensive ceramics class.
- Nobody in the class cares about my dissertation. Unlike my friends, family, and colleagues, the instructor and other students don’t want to hear about my research, beyond the general topic being fairy tales, so while I’m in the class, I’m not talking about my progress and challenges.
- It meets regularly in the evenings, so each week I have 2.5 hours set aside for the class without worrying about losing or wasting time. Basically, relaxation is built into my schedule. Also, evenings are usually my least productive time of day, so I’m not painting during normally productive hours.
I really enjoyed my 6 week late summer class, and this weekend I will be registering for Fall session classes. If you’re like me and find it difficult to relax but really need to get out of the house and away from your research, look into what classes are offered by your local community center. You may be surprised by the options available and find a great new hobby. Plus, my finished artwork (pictured below) made a lovely birthday present for my mother.