Mark Tushnet é professor da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Harvard.
How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I try to get to work relatively quickly after breakfast (preferably before 8 AM). Before starting to write, I “clear my desk” of accumulated small tasks, including reading e-mail that arrived overnight.
What time of the day do you work better?
I work best in the morning and in the mid-afternoon.
Do you have marathon writing sessions or do you write a little every day? Do you have a daily writing goal?
I try to write every day, and strongly prefer to spend a block of time — at least one hour, up to two hours — writing. After two hours I get quite tired and have to pause to recharge my batteries.
How is your writing process? Once you’ve compiled enough notes, is it difficult to begin? How do you move from research to writing?
I generally do not have difficulty starting to write once I have a title and a first line. Most of the time I have a pretty good outline of the piece before I start writing — “outline” in the sense that I have an idea of the flow in my heard; I only occasionally put a formal outline on paper, though sometimes a jot notes to remind me to include specific points.
How do you deal with writing blocks, such as procrastination, the fear of not meeting the expectations and anxiety of working on long projects?
I do not think that I’ve ever had a writing block.
How often do you review your texts before you feel they are ready? Do you show your work to anyone before it’s finished?
I review my work once or twice before treating it as ready. The first time around I correct typographical errors, of course, but am mostly concerned about organization and about simplifying sentences that I have originally written in overly complicated ways.
How is your relationship with technology? Do you write your first drafts by hand or on the computer?
I write first drafts on the computer, and often toggle to a search engine to locate specific references or to check on factual assertions I’m making in the text I’m writing.
Where do your ideas come from? Is there a set of habits that you cultivate to stay creative?
To the extent that I can tell, my ideas come from conversations with people that provoke me to think about something new, or from reading something (including the news and blogs).
What do you think has changed in your writing process over the years? What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to writing your thesis?
I’m not sure that much has changed other than the availability of technology. Moving from writing first drafts by hand, then typing them, to writing directly on the computer probably has meant that I do less editing of my own work than I used to do. And, though I still do not use written outlines as the basis for my work that much, I’ve begun to do that a little more frequently, probably because I’m less confident as I age that I can remember the entire structure without having something on paper in front of me.
What project would you like to do but have not started yet? What book would you like to read and it does not exist yet?
I hope to work on additional parts of a project “Varieties of Constitutionalism,” some parts of which I’ve already done. And I have a longer term project to do on “Institutions Protecting Democracy,” going beyond constitutional courts in include electoral courts, anticorruption agencies, and other agencies.