Writing a book:  Dilemmas and procrastination

Staying at home (during the COVID19 pandemic) for a so-called workaholic seems to be an excellent opportunity to slow down and try to do something which one has been delaying because of the busy schedule.  Nowadays, you seem to be free from your routine work-schedule and think that it’s a great time to do the long-wished plans.  However, things are not so easy as one would plan.  You are bombarded, or actually, you unnecessarily expose yourself to so many social media outlets, including the compulsion to check your emails.  In a way, you pretend to be busy but with no real productive output.  And, each day, before going to bed, you remind yourself that I will be doing ‘this’ as the priority.

Well, this may not be true for many, but it seems to apply to me.  I had among my many “wishlist” one crucial project for writing a book. It is not originally my idea, but I have been suggested/told that based on my knowledge and experience, I should be writing a book.  Many of the undergraduate students (whom I am teaching now-a-day) had also prompted me to write my book, as on various occasions, I have been discouraging them not to read a particular book.  I always had doubts in their (apparently honest) suggestions, as I suspected that then it would become more accessible for students to learn from a book and be prepared to take exams and oral/practical exams by the teacher who has written the book.  I still suspect that it will reduce their learning habit and having better conceptual understanding.  Recently, I was impressed by one of my colleagues (from the clinical side) who has managed to write a couple of good books, and recently his latest book also got published.  So, I was a bit motivated and sought his guidance; he also motivated me to go ahead and promised to help me when needed.

Since then, I had been pondering on this idea; even came up with the titles and many other plans.  However, at the back of my mind, I have been going through various arguments and the dilemmas that may be associated with writing a textbook.  These were: So what? What difference will it make?  Do you want to re-invent a new wheel? Who will publish? What will my professional think of it?? etc. etc.  Besides, I always thought that I should be sharing my experiences of my field, how it has evolved over four decades, especially when I have been a witness to this process. Also, during my professional life, I have seen so many paradoxes in the development field that I always wanted to share “the other side of the story”.  This is a different approach than what is needed for a textbook and, ultimately, its publications.  Working digitally and virtually at home and surfing around have convinced me that you can still “publish’, but not necessarily through some publisher producing hard copies.  You need not write the whole script for the book, and you do it at your pace and mood. You write blogs based on your thinking process and keep on adding it till you feel that its time to compile them.  The idea is to enjoy what you are doing and make it more of experiential learning; this, of course, is from a special lens and mind-set.  You may even invite comments and suggestions as to how to go about it??  So, while trying to overcome my procrastination as well as dilemmas, I have proposed to name the book as “Concepts & applications of Public Health approaches in Pakistan”.  The title, as well as my sincere intention, is to make it a combination of some facts combined with theory.  This also includes the reflections and experiences (which are not usually written or shared).  Well, since I had to make a beginning from somewhere, so this is the first blog (or my so-called preface) to begin with.  I intend to keep the format of each of the chapter or section of the chapters as

Theory (background, introduction, concept clarification etc)

The status in Pakistan (including some historical evolution, if needed, some facts and figures and any achievements and the process evolved by public or private (including not-for-profit) sectors

Reflections & discussions (this will be based on personal or shared experiences).

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