Entry 45: Multi-Tasking Gives Way to Tunnel Vision

February 14, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the 45th installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?

Another busy day with tasks mostly unrelated to this book project.  As I get closer to beginning the teaching trimester, the amount of time I spend on work related to course preparation ramps up.  Plus, I’m supervising a number of master’s theses that are coming due this month, which is taking up more time than I thought it would.  It beats working for a living.

Somehow I still managed to put around 860 words on paper, which is crazy good, especially considering I spent less than two hours writing today.  Even though it goes against my normal modus operandi, I’ve started becoming single-minded about completing this book project.  I’m always working on four or five different research projects at once, and spreading my time across many obligations that have nothing to do with any of my research (gotta pay the bills and be a good citizen).  Generally, I’m a high-functioning multi-tasker.

Recently though, I developed a bit of tunnel vision for the subject of the book.  My spare 20 minutes here and there throughout the day or in the evening have not been going to the other research projects I have cooking, but to this book—even after having putting in my daily words. I suppose it’s helped with productivity.  If you’re reading this you know I’ve had a lot of good writing momentum since the New Year (except for a couple of low-confidence days).

But you can even see the tunnel vision in my Nuke Your Darlings daily entries—the percentage of journal entries talking about the substance of what I’m writing, as opposed to the writing process per se, has increased dramatically.  My twitter feed is like 80 percent Korea right now.  My mind keeps going back to the book.


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks and an associate editor of the Texas National Security Review.