Tuesday, August 08, 2006

writer's block, study block

I've been having trouble coming up with ideas for posts lately. Apparently I'm having writer's block in addition to study block.

Study block is the phenomenon whereby you know you have a very important exam in the near future but cannot seem to find time, effort, energy or motivation to actually study for it.

I've always been averse to studying. I blame high school for being so easy that "studying" consisted of my good friends hanging out and eating snacks and leafing through our notes for an hour the day before an exam. Whatever the reason, getting myself to study is about as hard as getting me to pull my own teeth.

At this point I have less than two months until my qualifying exam and I've managed to slog through two chapters of basic review material. I have a ton of subjects to review. Teaching in the spring refreshed a good chunk of the basics, but there are some key areas I'm very fuzzy in these days.

My fabulous therapist suggested I'm "blocked" because I'm afraid. I hadn't thought of that before. I AM afraid. There is a part of me that seems to be whispering that if I don't study and then I fail, it won't be a big deal. But if I study study study and fail then I am surely a big idiot who doesn't belong here. If that isn't a recipe for diaster I don't know what is. She also planted a seed of an idea for how to study: make lesson plans on the material. If I can teach it then I know it well enough for the exam. Plus it's much more fun to study that way.

My goal for this week is to study for two hours a day, even if I break it into smaller chunks. I will do this studying somewhere other than the lab where there are no distractions. Thankfully one of my projects is in a slower phase right now, so I should have plenty of time to get away from the lab without feeling too guilty.


At 9:09 AM, Blogger Erika said...

Studying by making lesson plans sounds like a good idea. Got to try that one. Now it's just useless reading and forgetting.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Twirly said...

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At 1:29 PM, Blogger Twirly said...

I had an oral exam with four questions - one from each prof. I totally procrastinated and did "fake studying" for two months - finally with a month to go I found the right system. I needed a system of breaks and rewards. 30 minutes study - 15 minute break - rinse and repeat. Sounds like a lot of breaks but it was the only way - plus everytime I finished studying a course I treated myself to something special like a 15 minute chair massage!! Good Luck!!

At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Abel Pharmboy said...

No sh*t that you're afraid!?! The key here is to find a means to scale back the anxiety enough to have it work in your motivating favor as opposed to being debilitating.

I strongly endorse getting out of the lab and picking a new study environment. Are there any parks or mountains outside of town you could go to or are you stuck in an urban environment? Either way, go somewhere without internet connections for at least 3 hrs at a clip - I like the rinse and repeat approach - it's also how I take on trail running.

And, if you really need to procrastinate for a half-hour or so, come over to my place and see the wide range of response to this issue of whether there is a place for the Hooters franchise to be a respectful advocate of breast cancer awareness and research - some very thoughtful yet contentious viewpoints on my most active comment thread in my short blogging career. Would welcome your learned viewpoint and thoughts.

And, as always, let me know if I can help on preparing for quals - you know how to find me.

At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you're going through. I'm in year 11, and this whole year I haven't been able to study at all. I have half yearly tests starting from tomorrow. And i haven't studied one word. It's kind of like i physically can't get myself to just sit down and simply read a couple paragraphs, or just write down some notes. I don't know what it is that's stopping me. What you said about being scared about studying, and then failing, really interests me. I wonder if that's the reason im "blocked".
Writer's block can be caused by depression or anxiety disorder. I have both, and am on medication. I admit to using this as an excuse not to get on with my life.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous john said...

hi i'm sufferring from study block too.. I'm a med school grad and i hv to prepare for usmle exams. The truth is how I will spend the rest of my life depends on this exam. I have been working 3 months on this exam and this is my last month. I thought there was something really wrong with me when I happened to see your blog. Thanks a lot for letting me know that there's something like a study block. Hope we all get over it soon!!


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