I am writing a book. (So what else is new?) I am writing a book that does not consist of previously published and revised articles. Each chapter has to be written from scratch, apart from the summaries I once upon a time wrote for the proposal, but they are not particularly helpful. Sometimes I have no idea what I had in mind.
Writing a book like this means that you can easily jump from chapter to chapter, depending on what issue occupies you for the moment. You end up with piles of notes, half-finished paragraphs, recycled bits from previous work and some ingenious headings that most likely will have to go.
I am now at the phase that many academic writers and especially PhD students will recognise. I cannot go on writing notes or even paragraphs. I need to write up every chapter into a coherent text. Preferably avoiding repetitions and overlaps with other chapters. This is a decisive moment. It is the question of self-discipline. I need to tell myself that I am not allowed to continue to the next chapter until I am finished with the current one. Excited as I am about a new and fresh idea to develop in Chapter 5, I must finish Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 first.
It is irritating. But it is still more irritating to believe that you have a finished chapter only to go back to it and discover imperatives in capital letters: CHECK! DEVELOP! CONSIDER! or yellow and blue highlights for various actions you have left for later.
It is tempting to tell myself: This is a difficult chapter, I'll write the easy chapters first. But I have done this before. The easy chapters are almost finished. I really need to deal with the difficult chapters now.
The reward is of course when you have finished the difficult chapter and can go on to the next, which is as likely as not to turn out to be just as difficult.