Swim before heading for the shore…

While watching Jane Campion’s film “Bright Star,” I thought about writing papers and how, sometimes, a kind of premature focus of energy on wanting to produce a finished draft can distract from the work at hand.  Campion has poet John Keats answer his sweetheart’s request to help her understand poetry:

A poem needs understanding through the senses.  The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it’s to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water.  You do not work the lake out.  It is an experience beyond thought.

How does this idea of approaching poetry apply to the writing of papers?  A first thought is that it’s so important to begin the work early, to work calmly, with room to explore and develop ideas.  Focus on the work; keep the deadline in mind but in the background.