Help yourself to a sample of Dame Eleanor’s Mervaylous Anti-Bugge Power-Writer Spray.  I found the recipe in a fifteenth-century manuscript, had to guess a bit at the proportions, but if you’re having trouble with annoying buzzing from obnoxious voices telling you things about being lazy, not good enough, etc., or if you are visited by Saint Anthony’s Demons of Temptation suggesting that you should just spend ten minutes doing something else and then you will write better, squirt some of this on the little buggers.  Both demons and disembodied voices just shrivel right up.  You should be able to get at least half an hour’s worth of good writing work out of an application.  Some people get more.

Here’s the roll call, with goals for this week.  How did you do?

Write the fucken grant application.
Contingent Cassandra
Goal for the next week: finish revising the article, go through the style sheet item by item to see what applies, and apply it. Finish up some other ancillary tasks related to the article-in-revision.  Come up with a game plan for juggling the P conference paper/article in progress and the J article in progress/conference paper over the next 12 weeks.
2 hours research/writing on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday; at least 15 minutes staying in touch with projects on Tuesday and Thursday. Finish conference paper. Make some sort of progress on the MMP.
Goal for next week: compile the various copies of the dissertation; get rid of duplicates, keep and clearly mark the newest editions of each chapter.
write 500 more words of “abst to article”
[no goal posted]
Goal: Cheer up. Read a methods chapter. Write one page.
Write at least two pages of brand-new chapter.
a) freewriting on those three ideas. If I can remember what they are which, right now, I can’t.
b) reverse-outline all the materials in the nice new folder
c) finish figure 1, run analyses for figure 3 of the paper with the MSc student.
d) Make up a story in which I am the heroine and I actually achieve my writing goals, but which also feels believable, and tell it to myself every day!
Goal for the next week. Complete the chapter draft, then start working on grant application for article research and writing.
Goal for next week – Again we’ll try for an hour of writing a day.
Luo Lin
Four solid hours of work. Reorganize my paper according to my new outline.
Goal for the next week: therefore, my goal for the next week is: finishing the half of the rest of this work. No more procrastination, please. Daily 15 minute writing about anything – about my paper, or documents read recently, some future project and so on.
Nancy Warren
draft introduction and outline at least a bare bones argument for the paper
Finish 1 of the 3 outstanding items for the book and get at least 1/2 done on a second.
Rented Life
Continue with first goal [find time to figure stuff out] and see if I can make a final decision submitting to the conference (project #3.) I’d also like to begin reading the book I have for project one.
Goal for next week: finish revisions on chapter 1, which involves expanding one section from about 1 page to 3-4. Also, I need to write an application essay for an NEH Summer Seminar I want to do. I’ve started drafting, but it’s a giant mess.

54 thoughts on “Writing group, week 2: bug spray!

  1. 1. Last week’s goal: finish revising the article, go through the style sheet item by item to see what applies, and apply it. Finish up some other ancillary tasks related to the article-in-revision. Come up with a game plan for juggling the P conference paper/article in progress and the J article in progress/conference paper over the next 12 weeks.

    2. What was achieved toward that goal: article-in-revision is revised/conformed to style sheet, emailed off by the goal. Some ancillary tasks completed, some still to go. Partial game plan created (partly while writing this post; see below).

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong: Possible working days this semester are Tues., Thurs., Fri., and Saturday; I’d like to write on at least three of those (preferably Tues, Thurs, Sat, leaving Fri. as a day off/household task day). I put in a long day of editing/formatting on Tues. (as planned, since the a-i-r was due the next day), but didn’t work on the other days (though I thought a bit about a game plan). I can live with that, but I need to get back into a rhythm, with the writing, and also with teaching prep/grading, household tasks (grocery shopping hasn’t really been happening in any regular way, which creates other problems) and exercise/sleep (I’ve been having problems with the get behind/stay up too late/ get further behind cycle; also, buying food on campus eats up 15-30-minute periods that I otherwise spend quite productively getting small prep/grading tasks done on a fast internet connection). This also seems to be a semester where an awful lot of days are different from the supposed norm (to the point where there may not actually *be* a norm). So I need to work on getting into a routine *and* varying the routine in ways that makes room for high-priority tasks.

    4. Goal for the next week: work on establishing routines mentioned above. Finish up some leftover ancillary tasks connected to the P a-i-r. Re-familiarize myself with what I have on the P conference paper/article-in-progress (which, last I checked, was something along the lines of a rough outline with list of specific examples to incorporate, and I doubt it’s been writing itself).

    [Goal for the week after next (see below): create fleshed outline for P article-in-progress, and plan for what will appear in the associated conference paper. One good approach might be to transform that outline into one of the sort that I created for the J article-in-progress: something with somewhat more formal divisions and a word count for each (which will, of course, likely change as I write, but helps me decide what I can realistically include, since my problem seems not to be producing enough prose, but deciding what to leave out; I have kitchen-sink and over-explaining tendencies). That should probably be an article outline, with some idea of what can be included in the conference version (which is presumably what I’ll work on first). Or maybe that’s a bit much to try to fit into this week? Okay, I’m going to put the full outline as the goal for the week-after-next above, and put this all in brackets

    I also note that I just did some planning as I was writing. Realistically, I think I’m now aiming to put the J a-i-p on the back burner until after the conference in March. Not my first choice, and perhaps I’ll find a way to touch base, but given the fact that February is disappearing very fast, I think that’s the best thing to do. Okay, so I guess I now have something resembling a game plan]

  2. Goal: Write two pages.

    Achieved: No pages.

    Analysis: My schedule blows. Can NOT “wait until Friday to write” as planned because I’m 150% brain dead at that point and also have to plan class for next week, which is taking forever thanks to brand new course with MEGA reading required. New idea: write on Tuesday mornings, before prepping class.

    Next Week: Write two pages on Tuesday, dang it.

    1. Finding out when you are the freshest and doing the tough work then is crucial, at least for me. Friday, or after work most days, I can’t manage more than the most automatic, brainless tasks.

    2. So hear you on the Friday thing: I’m at the point in my career where every course is a new course. So Mondays are spent prepping for Tuesday (and by prepping, I mean doing the damn reading, not lesson planning), Tuesdays are teaching and collapsing, Wednesdays are prepping for Thursdays, Thursdays are teaching and collapsing, and then Friday is my day off, which inevitably extends to Saturday and a good way through Sunday. I’ve got to get a better schedule in order.

      1. Thanks so much for commenting–it helps to hear that we aren’t alone! Hope we all find a way to juggle the schedule enough this week so as to get some writing done…

  3. Ah, Dame Eleanor, you’re a thoughtful and cunning hostess: spending time in the stillroom to provision your visitors!

    1. Last week’s goal? Complete a chapter draft & start a grant application.

    2. Progress to goal? Nailed it! Chapter draft was done on Sunday. Last year’s grant form located so I created a draft plan of what I have & what I need to accomplish for the (presumed) April 1 deadline. St. Antony was obviously working on my behalf!

    3. What worked and what didn’t? I cleared the decks of other work, mostly marking, to get the chapter drafted since it had to be done ASAP. That worked but I paid the price this week: now I have over a hundred short assignments to mark plus I burned the midnight oil finishing marking quizzes. This coming week I’ll still be paying the price to catch up on marking.

    I’d say that getting a heroic amount of writing done during term time is possible but only by ruthlessly ignoring other work responsibilities. This is unsustainable! If I was truly evil, I would have dumped last week’s marking all on my TA’s shoulders. But since my TA had taken on an extra load of marking parts of the last quiz as well as designing the next, that would have been horribly unfair.

    4. Next week’s goal? Complete grant application (so I can circulate it to some colleagues for feedback). Begin work on conference paper/article. That will be the thrust of the rest of the writing group for me.

    1. I’m experiencing some of that same tension between scholarship and ruthlessly ignoring other responsibilities. I feel like other people do the latter without thinking twice about it (OK, I know some people who really do this), but it is hard to be truly evil to the TAs, isn’t it? And I get a lot of anxiety about letting the grading or prep or whatever else go undone.

      Anyway … congrats on the major progress you made!

      1. Thanks!

        It’s tough but I’m finding that, at the associate level, there’s absolutely no one who will look out for your own career interests except yourself. It’s not easier at assistant, but at least then some fair-minded folk will say “hey, wait a minute, this is someone who’s leading up to tenure!”

        I refused to let my name go up to serve as department chair recently because the timing wasn’t right. If I want to go up for promotion to full in the next few years, I need to publish. And my department will benefit from having me as a full professor so this isn’t a purely selfish scheme. It’s just hard to remember that when you’re saying no to lots of people!

    2. I’d say that getting a heroic amount of writing done during term time is possible but only by ruthlessly ignoring other work responsibilities. This is unsustainable!

      I found this last semester. I had no choice—the dissertation had to get done—but the cost was immense. The backed up work, heaps of grading, and the extra mile I felt I had to go with at least one class to make up for my mental absence and the one cancelled class (review session, etc.) made the rest of the semester a nightmare.

      1. You have my sympathies. I remember my first term on the tenure-track, polishing off the edits on my dissertation, prepping new courses and all that. It was painful.

        This wasn’t quite so bad but by having only a short term “must finish NOW” goal, that meant I didn’t dig my hole as deep as a semester would have been.

  4. 1. Last week’s goal: Finish Chapter 1 and Write/Revise NEH Summer Seminar application.

    2. Accomplished: Almost finished Chapter 1 revisions, wrote and revised the seminar application.

    3. Analysis: I spent a *lot* of time working on the seminar application. It’s still not quite done (needs one more round of polish once I have a bit of distance from it), but it’s much, much better than it was. I did get distracted by an invitation to propose a couple unique courses for the fall, so I spent the last two days doing research and writing up syllabi instead of finishing my chapter. Productive procrastination, but not the best use of my time. I also ended up on campus every day this week except today, and that always cuts into my research time.

    4. Goals for next week: finish chapter 1, finish seminar application, finish course proposals. Go to campus less.

  5. 1. Last week’s goal.

    write 500 more words on abst to article of “new” side project

    2. What was achieved toward that goal.
    the grand total is about 700. Sadly my writing at this point is analyzing documents so it is very very rough.

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong.

    once again just knowing this group was lurking out there got me to write, even if one day it was only a measly 36 words. I need more of you on twitter to keep me accountable during the week.

    4. Goal for next week

    500 more words!

  6. Last week: Write for an hour a day.

    Progress: wrote for an hour, one day (not quite what I meant, but I’ve been dealing with ESL students, so perhaps mis-understanding’s rubbed off), and fluffed around the other day I managed to open the document.

    Analysis: DEH was right on the button last week: “I wonder if, perhaps, you are like me and can write fluently but question your direction, and fear bogging down in reams of prose before nailing down your thesis.” I know I can write to the word count, but constantly worry whether other people will find it as interesting as I do. I have some sort of thesis for this article, in that I’m writing it for a special journal edition on relationships. I can write it easily enough, but wonder if anyone will care. Also, I am easily distracted, or bored, and so sit here ‘thinking’ about stuff, but not really writing. I will go and look up some of your blogs on writing, Dame. (Two weeks til I’m no longer doing ESL, and coming home feeling wiped!)

    Next week: use what’s left of this Saturday morning, to write some more, and also work on planning the article more. Then try and write for 30 mins a day.

    1. The second-guessing whether one’s work is interesting, worth the time and effort, and all the rest, sounds so familiar to me.
      I wish I had a cure for the self-doubt–all I can offer is keeping in touch with people who support you, IRL if possible, but virtual support helps me as well.

      1. Thanks for your suggestions. The need to know I’m not alone is one of the things which keeps me coming back to writing groups, even when I haven’t done much at the end of the period. The community of scholarship is really helpful!
        (And most of my medieval friends have now finished their theses – maybe I should see about organising a IRL writing group for all four of us!)

  7. 1. Last week’s goal.
    Finish 1 of the 3 outstanding items for the book and get at least 1/2 done on a second.

    2. What was achieved toward that goal.
    Finished 1 item for the book.
    Didn’t quite get 1/2 done on the second, but made solid progress toward that goal and might be able to finish it over the weekend.
    Not a goal, but done: I had a chance to pitch a book idea to an editor (for part of a series), so I wrote up the idea and (yay? I think … ) got a positive reception. I now need to write up a description for each chapter and send it back which will reserve my spot in the series. I’ll have to finish the book by year’s end.

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong.
    I’ve been pushing myself to do something on my scholarship, no matter how crappy the day, no matter how far awry the schedule goes. And I start each day with a plan of sorts.
    Many days went awry with drama at work, too many meetings, etc. But I still managed to squeeze in some writing time.

    4. Next week.
    1. Finish chapter I’m working on now
    2. Significant progress on next chapter (it’s more than 1/2 done)
    3. Get chapter descriptions out to the editor

  8. 1. Last week’s goal:Continue with first goal [find time to figure stuff out] and see if I can make a final decision submitting to the conference (project #3.) I’d also like to begin reading the book I have for project one.

    2. What was achieved toward that goal. I am not doing the conference. It’s just too insane to think I could do that when I’m doing everything else and 6 classes. Why was this not obvious? Other goals…um yeah…I tried putting my health first, (why is that harder than it should be?) and it’s still not great. I did not start book. I did not do much for myself but try to get some rest and go to doctors.

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong. I said I needed to make smaller goals and I don’t think I really did. Maybe they are too vauge. I’m not sure. And I have no idea why I’m not good at taking care of myself. Dropping the conference was smart though.

    4. Goal for the next week. Begin reading chapter 1 of book needed to research project 1. Set aside at least 30 min every day where I do something I want to do that isn’t work or house work. Ideally something that will help with my writing. With really specific goals, maybe that will help?

    1. Definitely sounds like dropping the conference was the best choice.

      I’ve found that putting the “me time” — whether for writing or for stuff that is neither work nor house work — into my calendar and essentially treating it like work (I simply MUST work out now or simply MUST go to the craft store for 1/2 hour now) has helped a lot. When I just had that time in my head, I gave it over all too easily to other people/other demands. (But 6 classes? Wow!)

      1. yeah, 5 classes are required for FT (but for most others in the dept 4 are required for FT, don’t know why I’m special) and we need the $ because it was a costly risk to move here, so I took the extra. I probably should try putting myself in my planner, but since I rarely stick to that to begin with. I’m great at making a plan, terrible at sticking with it! How did you make sure you stuck with it?

      2. I have had the same problem with sticking to a calendar; I set an alarm, block the time on my calendar and refuse to infringe on it. It took some time to form the habit, but eventually I started keeping the appointments with myself.

      3. Like Elizabeth says, you just have to force yourself to do it. Something else that I’ve started doing is viewing the weekly schedule as something that has to have a minimum of X # of hours for me to use for writing and other tasks. If I have to schedule a meeting during time initially earmarked for writing, etc., then I take some of my open meeting time and schedule a meeting with myself to make up for it. If I can’t do it during the same week, I do it during the next week. So, last week I had a defense and ensuing drama that sucked away 4 hours of my time that would normally be class prep and writing time. This week, I’ve booked 4 extra hours of appointments with myself.

  9. 1. Last week’s goal.
    Four solid hours of work. Reorganize my paper according to my new outline.

    2. What was achieved toward that goal.
    One hour. Delved into the reorganization.

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong.
    Aside from the normal procrastination, I lost work time to fatigue. Wednesday morning, I dropped off Zeb at preschool and went home to take a nap instead of trying to work. I lost time to melancholy as well.

    The reorganization is scary because it involves a lot of undoing, not just moving things around. The paper needs it, but it can feel like going backwards, so I was pleased with myself for jumping in.

    The bug spray will be useful in those moments when the self-doubting voice starts to tell me the whole article is a waste of time and of no use or interest to anyone.

    4. Goal for the next week.
    Four solid hours of work. I want to finish chopping up the paper so that I can put it back together.

    1. Just wanted to say that, although I’m sure the experience was not lovely, the sentence “lost time to melancholy as well” is quite lovely.

      And yes, the deconstruction that sometimes precedes reconstruction is scary, and a bit demoralizing. I hope the new shape starts materializing soon.

  10. Just wanted to applaud for all progress this week. I’m impressed by those of you making headway toward your goals and by those of you analyzing what it will take to make headway toward your goals. Yay, you!

  11. Last week’ goal: draft intro of conference paper and outline argument

    Accomplished: not only drafted the intro but also drafted about half the paper. I only sort of have the rest outlined, but I more or less know where I am headed. I tend to discover my real argument in the process of writing, so I feel OK about that.

    Commentary: basically I had quite a bit less writing related to my admin work so it was easier to get other writing done. Duh! I need to make sure to use the slower admin times to full advantage.

    Next week: finish draft of paper, no matter how crappy the draft may be.

  12. 1 Last week’s goal: finishing a half of the project I have been working for a long time; 15 minute-writing a day.

    2 Achieved: only a half of one item, that means, still 2 and a half left. 15 minute-writing done only one day.

    3 Comments: I have received a draft to proofread needed to be submitted by 21th Feb. Quite a many parts I’ve found needed to be corrected and revised. Well, though it is nice to have a draft which is going to be published soon, correction and revision always need concentration and time consuming. Therefore, my project has been again put off for a while.

    4 Goals for next week: finishing the rest of the project; 15 minute-writing at least 3 days. I hope I can meet this modest goals.

  13. !. Goal for last week: compile the various copies of the dissertation; get rid of duplicates, keep and clearly mark the newest editions of each chapter.

    2. Accomplished: 1/2 of goal. I did compile the various copies. Then I despaired at my annoying habit of writing notes on whatever version I had at hand, making compiling a bear of a task. Finally, I shoved the latest complete version of a chapter into a folder, then into a box; I added a folder containing any pages that had my annotations on them, and recycled the rest. Compilation will have to wait until after I move, sigh.

    3. What I learned: My untreated ADD (and thereby hangs a full rant on its own) means that I have to be more organized than the average scholar. Once I have this rat’s nest untangled, I need to be diligent about only writing notes on the pages of a particular copy or in a particular notebook. There can be no exceptions; the time wasted and the stress of such confusion is debilitating. On a “silver lining” note, I have finally become disgusted enough, I have a good chance of succeeding in making this change.

    4. Goal for next week: compile the electronic copies, save to a hard drive, cloud storage, and thumb drive. What’s a little duplication among friends? 🙂

    Dame Eleanor, thank you for the bugge spray. I plan to use it the next time my Imposter Syndrome wraith starts pouring poison in my ear, or the “I’m tired” succubus whispers to me.

    To all, I echo Ink in applauding the progress so many of you made. Those of you who identified problems that impeded your progress, see that as a victory, since that knowledge will arm you in the coming weeks. Those of you who didn’t get as far as you wanted to, look at the half-full glass, not the half-empty one. Well done to all.

    1. Ah, yes. The “notes on every copy and stray bits of this and that besides” problem sounds very familiar. In fact, I was just trying to get my PDA (yes, I still use one) to sync after wiping and redoing a computer’s hard drive, and found professional notes that I had no idea I had in the “memos” section of that (also measurements for spaces in a house that no longer even exists, but that’s another story). I haven’t found a solution. Some projects get abandoned, which solves the problem of trying to organize those notes (though I tend to keep them anyway), but I haven’t yet figured out a way to deal with the ones for the projects-in-process, though I am leaning more digital — computer folders — than analog these days. It would probably be a good idea to come up with a truly workable system before I start a book. Scrivener looks like one tempting possibility, now that it’s available for Windows, but I may just stick with Word files and folders.

      1. I found myself mulling this over further, and I *think* I’m beginning to develop greater trust that, even if I don’t retrieve and collate every note, truly good ideas — those that clearly arise from the primary evidence, are crucial to supporting my argument, and/or tie my own analysis in a fruitful way to an ongoing scholarly conversation — will come to me more than once. Or, in other words, if they’re truly useful/central to the project, they won’t get lost, even if the piece of paper on which they’re written does.

        Of course, I still find myself rediscovering useful factoids in notes and/or other records of readings, and thinking “how did I manage to forget about *that*?” And the experience becomes more frequent as I age. And discovering each thing only once, and integrating it, in its proper place, at that point — or at least making a note of its eventual proper place — certainly *sounds* more efficient. But, as I keep telling my students, both writing and research are recursive, and that probably includes stumbling at times along what seems like an unfamiliar trail, only to arrive at a familiar place, and realize you *have* been this way before.

      2. I think that is an excellent point, Cassandra. There are the odd thoughts that do disappear forever, but most of them do reappear in some form later on.

        I have several writer friends who swear by Scrivener, but Word works fine with some tweaking.

    2. Urgh! The multiple copies is always an issue. I kept saving different versions for ages, and only really binned them when I finally worked out what I wanted to say. Having a folder (on the computer) for random ideas, or brilliant phrasings which have to be cut from the thesis can be a useful way of editing without losing things.

    1. Congrats on finishing the conference, and many thanks for getting the check-in up while in the midst of the fray.

  14. 1. Goal for last week: Cheer up. Read a methods chapter. Write one page.

    2. Well, those of you who read my blog will know that cheering up was difficult. I read about 2/3 of a methods chapter. I did not write a page.

    3. Since I’m in the mountains with my family, I can’t write an extended analysis even though I have many thoughts about DEH’s topic this week. I might post again tomorrow with a few more thoughts. But I will say that skiing and playing in the snow with my family is very cleansing.

    4. Goal for this week. Finish methods chapter. Write two pages (I know, crazy ambitious, right?).

  15. 1) Goal for last week:
    a) freewriting on three ideas for possible grants.
    b) reverse-outline all the bits I wrote over the last 18 months for the paper I keep putting off
    c) finish figure 1, run analyses for figure 3 of the paper with the MSc student.
    d) Make up a story in which I am the heroine and I actually achieve my writing goals, but which also feels believable, and tell it to myself every day!

    2) Progress: minimal. (a) I had a fit of ‘why bother applying for grants all my ideas are rubbish no-one will fund them anyway’-itis, so although I did a lot of doodling not much actual, usable, relevant freewriting happened. b) done, and the electronic chopping and pasting is done, so all the relevant bits are now in roughly the right places in a new word-file. c) not touched. d) a whole other issue. e) I also produced seven handwritten pages of notes/sketches plus spent a couple of hours data-organising for a totally different paper, because a colleague visited last week and we worked out a way to put together some bits from various projects (theirs, mine, my post-doc’s and a former PhD student’s) into an interesting and publishable form, when none of them are up to that alone. What a horrible sentence that was.

    3) what worked/didn’t. I didn’t make enough allowance for how much time class prep would take this week, and I did the stupid thing of leaving writing ‘until later’, so of course it got scraps of attention/time rather than any kind of priority. I need to worry less about what I can’t feasibly do and instead concentrate on doing what I can, even if it’s only 20 minutes here and there.

    4) goals for next week. One goal only. Turn the cut-and-paste job on the paper I reverse-outlined (it needs a name…) into an actual rough draft.

    1. That’s pretty difficult–to concentrate on what you can do and not what you can’t. I have a bad habit of not being realistic about how long grading/prep will take or maybe it’s just not being realistic about how many hours there are in a day. Good luck with your goals this week! Here’s hoping we both are able to be happy with the 20 minutes here and here we get! It’s better than nothing.

  16. 1. Didn’t list a goal last week, and in fact I didn’t really make a goal, although I’d hoped to get some work done. My goal for this semester is to make significant progress on my first article. What significant means isn’t quite clear yet.

    2. Made no progress.

    3. Why? I got quite emotionally sidetracked this week by somewhat unexpected job market news (or lack of news). This is my second year on the market, and I’ve still yet to get so much as a phone interview. This week the streak continued, but with a job I’d expected to go further in the competition than first-cut eliminations and a postdoc that I’d only applied to because a faculty member at the university in question expressed excitement about my work and virtually insisted that I apply. Needless to say, it was a rough blow, although I’d gotten wind that I wouldn’t be getting the postdoc. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that I have an exit timeline (either I get a legit job or I leave, I don’t do poorly-paid adjuncting with no benefits, a decision made even more clear by the fact that I’m currently doing one of the better-paid adjuncting gigs around w/ benefits and I can barely rub two pennies together). So my continued lack of success is a worry and signals just how much of a waste graduate school has been. Clearly my materials aren’t speaking to search committees, and what else was graduate school supposed to do, really? Anyway, depression’s set in, my mind’s racing towards timelines and exit strategies (which I can’t do any time soon b/c I’m too poor to move), and the last thing I want to be doing is keeping up scholarly productivity for a profession I’m not remotely convinced I’ll be in in 18 months. Anyway…

    4. Next week’s goal: it’s pretty minor. Get something, anything, done on the article.

    1. Ugh. I understand the feeling (and I left a rumination on uncertainty — which I also hate — and dealing with it over on your blog). As far as the article goes: have you settled on a particular article to write? If so, are you writing the one that you think might work best for the job market, or the one that, even if you leave academia behind, you’d really like to contribute to the scholarly conversation? Are they, by any chance of good luck, the same one?

      I was really burned out when i finished my dissertation, in part because I never really settled on a satisfactory argument. It’s taken me a while to regain any pleasure in scholarship, and I’ve done it in part by not worrying too much about whether my current reearch is “salable” (though, in fact, one of my articles-in-progress probably is). If I’m remembering your account of your defense correctly, you had a much more positive experience with the diss. Still, given what you’ve said above, I wonder whether part of the block (other than just plain being tired after finishing the diss while teaching a full load) might be concentrating too much on the potential job-market effects of the article, and not enough on what most interests you, salable or not. Of course, the two aren’t necessarily in conflict, and it makes sense to pursue both goals if possible, but still, maybe it’s worth asking yourself: if you do move on to another career too all-consuming to allow time for research, what article or other project would you really like to have published, simply for its own sake, before you move on? Would working on that one — if you aren’t already — make the most sense?

      All that said, (1) it strikes me as smart to have an exit strategy that avoids working adjunct jobs you really can’t afford, and (2) I’m not sure that job market cycles begun before you defended really count. They may be good practice (though that strikes me as debatable), but in this market, I’m sure there are plenty of places that don’t even read materials from A.B.D.s. So you can’t be sure whether your materials are speaking to committees or not. If you really think something might be wrong with them, perhaps you could recruit some readers outside your own department who have recent experience searching (but aren’t necessarily conducting a search right now), to see if they have any suggestions, and revise in time for next year? Unless you’re really in desperate straits economically (and as long as you really want to be an academic if possible), then giving yourself at least one year on the market as a Ph.D. (preferably with an article at least submitted), is probably worth a try.

      1. Thanks for your feedback, CC. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

        A few thoughts: while my defense went staggeringly well, the diss process was a nightmare. The diss itself was fine-ish, but I had an incredibly difficult advisor, who never bothered to figure out who I was as a graduate student/potential scholar, never accurately diagnosed what my precise weaknesses were, and (as far as I can tell) chalked my weaknesses to laziness, a character flaw ze decided I had based on nothing other than my skin color (at least that’s the best diagnosis I can come up with for what was a pretty outlandish set of circumstances). All of this came to a head about two years ago and ze tried to kick me out. I’ve always felt that the diss started out on shaky ground because I had such a poor relationship with the advisor: at no point before my defense did I really know what ze thought about the worthwhileness of the project, or its potential success on the market. I just put a project together the best I knew how, and then was stuck with it. My concern has always been that, while I managed to get a diss done, that come time to get a job, that the chaos it came out of would damn me in the market.

        I have settled on an article to write. It’s a chapter from the diss, but I’ve chosen it for neither of the reasons you mention. It’s the chapter most likely to disappear from the book version (how likely that is, I’ve yet to determine, but it’s the chapter least central to the “argument.”) That said, I am really struggling with how much weight is now on the article. What feedback I’m getting is that at least two, if not three, people believe strongly that my lack of an article is what’s holding me back, which also taps into concerns about the advisor and how much damage ze has potentially done. Ze was vociferously against publishing before I finished my dissertation, and given the tenuous nature of our relationship, and my constant fear that ze would pull some craziness, the last thing I wanted to do was take time away from finishing the diss by working on an article.

        I will say, though, that neither the article nor my diss are really the scholarly interventions I want to leave behind if I go. I have a really kickass second project that I’m excited about, but for various reasons, I don’t think it’s wise to abandon the diss. In other words, I think I will only get the cred to do the second project once I’ve done a more standard first project.

        As for the ABD job market cycle, I hear what you’re saying. But I also know quite a few ABDs who got hired at a range of institutions. So while I don’t think that not getting a job ABD is on its own a crisis, I do think that having never had an interview in two market cycles is quite concerning. That said, I’m resigning myself to another cycle for the reasons you mention, as well as the fact that I can’t actually afford to leave in a way that sets me up nicely in another career.

        Sorry for the too long response. I’ve been trying to processing this new state of affairs for a few days now, so pardon the ramble.

  17. Once again, thank you all for talking amongst yourselves and encouraging each other. I decided yesterday that unless my inaction was going to be the proximate cause of World War III, I was taking the day off; and so I didn’t go near my computer all day. I read a novel, went to the gym, watched Downton Abbey.

    And now I face far too much to do today and this week, but okay. Somehow I will manage.

    1. Last week’s goal: 2 hours research/writing on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday; at least 15 minutes staying in touch with projects on Tuesday and Thursday. Finish conference paper. Make some sort of progress on the MMP.

    2. Accomplished: I think I had two big writing sessions. I can’t remember much about what I was doing last week. The conference paper got done. I don’t think I managed anything but thinking about the MMP here and there.

    3. Analysis: too little sleep, too much caffeine, lots of extra stuff to do between job talks and the conference. But both those extras are now over, so I can now return to my regularly scheduled programming.

    4. Goal for this week: Plan ~15 hours work of research/analysis that the MMP needs; that is, figure out when I can do that (some of it needs the library), schedule it, do at least 3 hours of it this week.

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