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Daniel Tysdal on Taking a Breather

Professor Daniel Tysdal’s office is on the third floor of the Humanities Wing at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. The spacious room is his very own “nerd cave”— movie posters cling to the wall and small novelty toys sit on the bookshelves. But space has never impeded Professor Tysdal’s drive to refine his craft.

Growing up in Moose Jaw, Sask. — a small town 77 kilometres west of Regina— Daniel spent hours inside an abandoned bus on his parent’s farm, working on poems. The abandoned bus wasn’t the most comfortable setting, but there was an itch that compelled him to work.

As Tysdal completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Regina and pursued a Master’s in English at Acadia University, the itch slowly morphed into a obsession.

“If I had never published a poem, I’d still be writing poems. I’d be on my farm, sitting there writing my weird poems.”

This obsessive desire to constantly improve is an important element in Professor Tysdal’s growth and success as a poet— this tunnel vision focus is an advantage. The question then becomes: when do you take a step back and allow yourself to breathe?

Luckily, being a professor gives him that exact opportunity.

“That is the good thing about my job. It does that. It keeps me in check, and it’s good because I still feel like I am involved in poetry. My job says, ‘no, you have to go grade papers’, or ‘ you have to go meet with students.'”

It does not take much to find yourself in a position where you’ve drained your energy reserves working for your dreams. And it’s a sickening feeling when you realize that you’ve disregarded parts of your personal life that need attention.

The best way to combat overworking is to allow yourself time to do absolutely nothing related to your goals. Designate a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening where you disconnect and spend time with yourself. You can use this time to catch up on leisure reading or watch episodes you missed of a new show.

Setting aside time to restore your energy reserve is key to ensuring that you aren’t operating on fumes.


Prof. Daniel Tysdal is a speaker at this year’s TEDxUTSC conference. Look out for his talk entitled, “Everything You Need to Write a Poem and How it can Save a Life.” And don’t forget to follow Year One on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for insight, wisdom and notices for when our posts go live.

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Image Credit: TEDxUTSC
Source: Personal Interview

Written by Akhil Shiv Kumar

Akhil Shiv Kumar is an English student at Ryerson University. His writing focuses on athletes, social activists and people you might have never heard of. If you like, or even dislike, Akhil's writing, go ahead and let him know on Twitter @akhilshivkumar.

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