Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat (COVID Chronicles)

In mid-March, Malaysia went into lockdown. In early June, few extensions later, the lockdown lifted.

That left many of us stuck at home, with much less work to do. A pleasant staycation. More time with the family and kids. More time to catch up with 101 chores and tasks we've been putting off. But after awhile, boredom sets in, right? And then we fall back to our normal procrastinating ways...

Well, not me! I still woke up early in the morning. I still kept myself busy with reading and work as much as I can. And more importantly, I set myself some goals...

Here are my milestones during the 80+ day lockdown period:

  • Publication: Wrote 6 articles (1 journal + 5 online)
  • Evaluation: Read and graded 20+ moot memorials (30+ pages per memorial)

Eat, sleep read, write, repeat (sleep is for the weak!)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

* * *

Not too bad, right?

I'm especially proud of my publication output. My peer-reviewed journal article is on the hot 'n spicy issue of fake news - running over 40 pages and 13,000 words (excluding footnotes).

My five online articles encompassed a myriad of topics: human rights, refugee and asylum, international law, and company law. I corroborated with a senior counsel in one article, and co-authored three others with one of my bright star students.

Originally, I only set myself to write 3-4 articles (a journal article is especially taxing due to rounds of edits). But my adrenaline kicked in, I got a routine going, and in the end, I exceeded my target.

As the cliche goes: "it's the journey, not the destination". So true. I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Researching on new areas of interest, expanding my knowledge base, and bouncing back ideas between my collaborators.

In between writing, I was reading (and re-reading) a bunch of memorials written by students for a renowned international moot competition (which unfortunately got cancelled due to COVID-19). The moot problem touched on yet another complex niche area - maritime law.

All in all, the whole lockdown felt like I had signed up for some extensive Masterclass boot camp...

* * *

Speaking about Masterclass, I'm proud to announce that I've finally enrolled into a Masters program.

It's something I've always wanted to do, but kept deferring due to 'work commitments'. Terrible as the pandemic is, the timing seems right now. Lessons have gone virtual, the next semester is delayed, less moot competitions.

I wouldn't say that I have 'less work' now - since work that you're truly passionate about never ends. But I guess I have 'less excuse' now to procrastinate on my Masters - since my workload is somewhat stretched out to leave more gaps of free time here and there...

The Masters program is purely research. That is, I've to write a much longer journal-worthy peer-reviewed article (max 50,000 words). According to the program guidelines, the research period usually takes between two to eight semesters (1 to 4 years).

My goal is to complete the program within a single semester (6 months).

Seems rather ambitious - if not even cocky - but I really think I'm up for it. After all, I've already warmed up my mental muscles, built up a routine, and know how to get my adrenaline flowing. Yes, I really believe I can speedrun through this research paper and take on the next challenge...

Fake it till you make it

* * *

So what's my research topic? Shhh... it's a secret now. I don't want to spoil it yet. Besides, my application and research proposal haven't been officially accepted yet. So my direction can still change.

Suffice to say, I'm steering into an evolving frontier. It's not just about the law. It's about the future. It's about saving humanity.

Don't worry. This isn't a cliffhanger. In the coming months, I will occasionally update on my progress (positive, I hope).

Anyway, I didn't write this just for humble-bragging and announcing my life plans. I just wished to get out of my comfort zone and truly challenge myself, for the next 6 months.

What about you? What did you do for the last 3 months? What's your challenge for the rest of 2020?

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