Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I love writing, but sometimes it frustrates me more than you can possibly imagine. How much research is enough? How much is too much? How can I tell the difference? I get so many great ideas for articles, but oftentimes, they never get past the research phase because I’m quite the perfectionist, and sometimes I lack perspective. I’ll research until the cows come home, so to speak, but once I sit down to write, I struggle to condense all the information I’ve gathered into something coherent and interesting without my brain imploding. Other times, I’ll check out about a hundred books on a subject and then realize I can’t possibly read them all and still finish my post within year. What I should really do is narrow my topic to start with, but I find it difficult to do that when I get so excited about so many things and just want to explore everything all the time. In some ways, it was easier in college when I had firm deadlines for all my papers. As those dates grew nearer, I was forced to reign in both my perfectionism and enthusiasm in favor of self-preservation and getting the job done on time. Even still, I often had to remind myself that I couldn’t read every piece of literature ever published on a subject when I was only writing a ten-page paper. I’m tough on myself, which I think is okay as long as my expectations remain reasonable, but they are sometimes not.

I know that I would be less frustrated and more productive if I didn’t try to write so comprehensively all the time. I do enjoy writing the shorter posts I sometimes do on articles I’ve read or artists I’m enjoying, but I don’t think I would want to make a steady diet of them. One of my main reasons for starting this blog was to have a forum to conduct my own original research, so if I steer too far away from that and start watering down topics I know I could write more about , I’m unlikely to feel very inspired. I think I need a little perspective in my research and writing practices. So tell me, readers, how do you maintain perspective and reasonable expectations in your blog? How can I reign in my enthusiasm and flights of academic fancy when I don’t have a teacher or publisher to give me a reality check? What’s a young art historian to do?

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