“Finishing” can be understood either as “concluding” or as “letting go,” and both can be difficult.  Sisyphus has bloggedrecently about teaching conclusions, and I think the idea of analyzing conclusions of scholarly essays you admire is a good one.  Picking up the nearest such collection, a book of essays that I have been trying to get through fairly quickly (short ILL borrowing period, alas), conclusions by some well-known scholars of Middle English literature end in workmanlike fashion: they do the job, but they’re not making huge claims.  ET focuses on what study of the topic reveals about four significant elements and then a fifth really important one.  MS indicates what other people working in the area will need to do, in accordance with principles outlined in the essay.  SG quotes another scholar, whose views replace those of a nineteenth-century editor quoted at the beginning of the essay, and indicates what more we now know about a particular medieval figure.  CR ends with a close reading that I think is meant to illustrate broader principles, but for me that essay stopped rather abruptly.  JT returns to definitional and political problems referenced earlier, and suggests improvements upon them.

What I take away from this quick exercise is that, despite all the advice about how important conclusions are, there is not one of these that makes me say OMG that was awesome!  I’m interested in these essays for the arguments and details that come earlier, and these are what I remember; I can’t say there’s any essay I’ve ever read that stands out in my mind for its splendid conclusion.  Workmanlike is good enough.  Tell ’em what you told ’em, or tell ’em why it’s important, or tell ’em how you’ve moved the scholarly conversation forward.  Declare victory and get out!

On letting go, I am going to refer you to a post I wrote some years ago, handing on advice from a senior scholar in whose circles I sometimes move: https://dameeleanorhull.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/recovering-perfectionist/

I still find this difficult.  As I work toward finishing the MMP, which I have been working on for 3 years now, I can’t really see why it took so long.  Should I not be farther along than creating topic sentences for all my paragraphs?  And yet, I do see what took so long: synthesizing the details, figuring out what they offer a larger conversation, working out how to get from larger to smaller and back again, figuring out connections, thinking about what work each paragraph needs to do.  In literary studies, we don’t have an outline dictated by the conventions of the field (thesis, review of literature, methodology of the experiment, conclusions, for example).  It may be possible to follow or invent some sort of formula (and that might be a topic for another week), but really the shape of a literary essay tends to grow from the kinds of work one does with the kinds of details one wants to discuss.

Beating myself up about how long it’s taken is not going to get me finished faster, or make it any easier to let go once I have a smoothly argued, well-documented, convincing paper.  I must keep moving forward.  I’m not done yet, but I really hope that by our last meeting on 4 May, I will be.

What are your thoughts on both kinds of finishing?

Roll call:

Amstr: 1) finish Chapter 3 draft, 2) quick review of intro, 3) write cover doc (a self-assessment) to accompany the project, 4) submit by Wed. evening, 5) outline goals for the two weeks before my trip.
ComradePhysioProf: I’ve got two of my post-docs’ manuscripts to edit and get submitted in the next week or two.
Contingent Cassandra: Flesh out outline(s) of P article(s)-in-progress, trying to get an idea of what might go in each (assuming there are two), and what research still needs to be done to complete the one that’s closer to being fully-formed. Catch up on ancillary tasks.
DEH: write at least 20 minutes on M, T, Th, and at least 1 hour on W, F, Sa.
EAM: Finish the blanking article.
FeMOMhist: my “goal” such as it is will be to continue to make some sort of ill defined progress, with progress being based on a “feeling” rather than a number.
GEW: Write two pages. Read 30 pages of theory.
Ink: MIA
JaneB: a) revise the complicated paper using comments from one reader, then send out to all the co-authors, b) make that list of all the possible projects and c) do some freewriting around grant ideas.
JLiedl: A complete chapter draft, since I’m over 1/3 of the way there. It may be a skeletal chapter draft, but I’d like it to be complete before Easter break.
Luo Lin: 1 hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Matilda: finish reading my main material, start to write my argument part of the paper, write something at least 15 minutes.
Nancy Warren: try again for those 5 pages.
profgrrrl: MIA (blog suggests OBE)
Rented Life: Apply to 2 more jobs. Write one page or edit one section.
Sapience: start working on re-writing Chapter 4, probably by writing a new outline.

42 thoughts on “Spring 2012 Writing Group, week 9: finishing

  1. We put a fucketonne of effort into the conclusions of our research manuscripts, but we are following a pretty rigid narrative structure that demands strong conclusions by convention.

    And BTW, of the two manuscripts we have been editing, one of them is really close to ready for submission. It was one of those papers that just writes itself, because the experimental progression is so crystalline and the interpretations so clear. The other one is really thorny, because the experimental progression is so fucken complicated and the interpretations so complex.

  2. 1. my “goal” such as it is will be to continue to make some sort of ill defined progress, with progress being based on a “feeling” rather than a number.
    2. even with my modest goals I must confess to sigh doing nothing.
    3. I can’t tell if I’m out of steam for “side project” or if it deserves to die/take a back seat to Side Project #2 which has already yielded some very fine results for me.
    4. I honestly don’t know. I’m going to consult with some peeps to see what they advise. I’ve already changed horses midstream once in this writing group but since side project is well, my side work, I feel like I want to devote my time to the one that is yielding tangibles already.

  3. Well, the article I sent in a couple of weeks ago was definitely finished by necessity, rather than any kind of crafting. I’m not good at starting or finishing, but hope that, by the time the reader has gotten to the end, they have an idea about what I’m trying to say…

    Last week I was MIA, due to internet failures. Sorry. I was still working on reading things, and have a fascinating book at my elbow, which I wish I had on hand for my thesis (dissertation).

    Goal for next week: write out a really persuasive project for a post-doc. Not sure how to make the project more interesting than my lack of anything actually published. How often can one write to an editor of a place which promised a quick turn-around to help post-grads? They’ve had my revised version for over 6 months now… I last wrote around the end of Feb.

    1. I’m wondering about contacting non-communicative book editors too.

      From my work as a grad student editorial assistant on a well-respected journal, I’d say find out if there’s an editorial assistant at the place that can find things out for you. The editors I worked with were busy with many, many other things and only had board meetings scheduled every so often. But I knew the schedules and what was up for review and could nudge reviewers to get feedback done for particular projects.

  4. Goal for last week: Start rewriting chapter 4, starting with an outline.

    Achieved: It’s complicated.

    Analysis: Technically, I wrote an outline. But it sucked, and clearly didn’t address the actual problem with the chapter. So I reverse outlined, wrote a third outline, and still feel like I haven’t figured out what is wrong with the chapter. I have already asked for feedback from two of my committee members (one said, “maybe it just needs reframing?” and the other wants to send me off in a direction I’m fairly confident will not actually advance my overall dissertation argument), and the third has said she doesn’t want to see anything from the dissertation until I’m about ready to defend. So… feeling more stuck than I have, well, ever. I’m fairly sure it will pass, eventually, but this is the first time I can’t even see what’s wrong–usually I can see what’s wrong, but just can’t see how to fix it. So I think I’m going to leave chapter 4 alone next week. Not even think about it. (Not that the last 6 weeks of leaving it alone helped figure out what was wrong, but it’s worth a shot.)

    Goal for next week: Work on cutting down my conference paper draft for KZoo from 20 minutes to 15.

    1. I like DEH’s advice below. I also find it invaluable to find someone to vent to out loud about it. Even if the person has no real idea of what I’m talking about (e.g., my computer scientist husband), I find explaining it out loud often gets me unstuck even more than writing about it does.

  5. Not MIA–commented late on the last post but still visited! Sorry. Fridays are tough for me.


    Goal: two pages
    Achieved: wrote two (actually three) pages.
    Analysis: I forced it and they aren’t very good but I was happy to have something to revise!
    New goal: Only one page. TONS of work coming up this week and I’ll be happy if I get to it at all so making it very modest.

    Hope everyone is doing well!

    1. Thursday’s a pretty late check-in, Ink! I put together the goals list as people comment over the weekend. But congrats on getting so much done last week.
      It sounds like most of you have had complicated weeks, and since we’re only at 5 comments on Saturday morning, I bet you’re not the only ones. FeMOMhist, you have been awesome about getting 500 words done in odd bits of time, so I’m torn between encouraging you to keep using the 15- and 20-minuteses to keep this side project up and saying (especially given the week’s theme) that sometimes you do have to focus on the main thing and just Get It Done. If your other thing is yielding results, then maybe what you should do is write yourself a note about where you are with the side project and what it still needs, and then focus on the other thing. The point to the note-to-self is that it makes it easier to pick up the project when you do have time to get back to it.
      kiwimedievalist, have you not heard anything at all from the editor, or have you had something vague like “we have received your submission and will let you know when we can”? An awful lot of publications are not very good at communicating, and an awful lot of reviewers take longer than editors would like. But if you didn’t get a response in February, I’d say something like “I’m sure you’re very busy, but because of [the job market/ post-doc appplication/ whatever], it would be very helpful to have some sort of timeline when I might expect to hear back about this essay.”
      Sapience, I feel your pain. If you think that thinking about other things this week is the way to go, I’m not going to argue. One possible technique, though, is to do some free-writing about what this chapter would do in the best of all possible worlds. Or try writing a review of the book that that the dissertation will become, from the point of view of a scholar you admire.
      CPP, how I WISH I ever had a rigid narrative structure to follow. And what a joy are those papers that seem to write themselves.

      1. The response I got in Feb said: “Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately the wheels turn slowly with some referee reports, but I will email you as soon as I hear anything new. Thanks for your patience.”

        So I don’t want to appear impatient, but I also get worried about responses getting sent to the wrong email address, as my name is one letter different from a common name, and someone out there has the other gmail account… Would I be being too rude to contact again?

      2. I think people use the “reply” function or auto-fill-in; I doubt your e-mail will go to the wrong place. Given the reply you got in February, I think you should wait another month.

      3. If I hadn’t tried free-writing AND talking through the chapter with the usual suspects last week (I have a couple of writing partners, one in my field and one outside that I often do this with), I’d probably give your suggestions a shot. But, since I have to do this revision on the conference paper anyway, I’m going to try ignoring it and seeing if a bit of percolation helps.

    2. Congrats on surpassing your goal! Ending the week with something, rather than nothing, even if it needs to be revised, is always better, isn’t it?

  6. I definitely had a week of “stopping” rather than really concluding, but once I shut away my perfectionist self, I made good progress and made my deadline! So here’s the rundown:

    Goals: 1) finish Chapter 3 draft, 2) quick review of intro, 3) write cover doc (a self-assessment) to accompany the project, 4) submit by Wed. evening, 5) outline goals for the two weeks before my trip.

    Accomplished: 1) got 2/3 of the way done, and got most of the hard parts done, 2) read the intro just enough to proofread, but I was happy with it, 3) done, 4) submitted Thursday at 11:40pm, 5) outline complete.

    Analysis: Wow! It feels great to have the whole document submitted! I’ve been following some early advice I got and keeping a complete draft of what I’ve written so far in a folder (complete with title page, toc, etc.), but it hasn’t had the same effect as compiling the 117 page document, complete with necessary figures, parts of all the chapters, etc. The dissertation is finally starting to feel like one thing.

    By Tuesday I was losing steam with the Chapter 3 draft, which isn’t surprising after getting through 8000 words in a week and a half. I’d still like to make more progress on it before my advisor meeting, but I think what I submitted is enough to get through the meetings and have productive feedback.

    Goals for next week: 1) rest, 2) write 1000 (or more) words on Chapter 3, 3) read 5 theory articles, 4) take care of photocopying and bibliographic details.

  7. I was especially intrigued to see Comrade P’s comment here, since I teach a good many science students, which means I read a good deal of science writing. I’d say that the pattern you observed, Dame, holds true for the humanities: the really important part is the introduction. In the sciences, the introduction is often much more tentative, posing a question or proposing a hypothesis, and the meat of the argument comes later: in results and/or discussion, and/or the conclusion. Of course, published science articles almost always have an abstract which is printed along with the article, which means the findings are up front in the final published version. Humanities essays are less likely to have abstracts appended to the actual article (even if they’re produced at some point, either by the author or by an abstracter, for a database). Personally, I pay much more attention to beginnings, in both my own and others’ writing, than to endings.

    Goal for last week: Flesh out outline(s) of P article(s)-in-progress, trying to get an idea of what might go in each (assuming there are two), and what research still needs to be done to complete the one that’s closer to being fully-formed. Catch up on ancillary tasks.

    Accomplished: Honestly, nothing, except a few random thoughts flitting through my head at unpredictable moments.

    Analysis: This has been a hard semester, and spending last weekend at a conference didn’t help (though, as I said last week, the conference itself was well worth doing; being away for two days, and focused on preparing for another, just made other things worse). I’ve got some ideas about the roots of the problem (which are somewhat a matter of time, but more a matter of what’s energy-draining vs. energy-building for extreme-introvert me), but most solutions aren’t implementable this semester (and some which involve trying to balance what I enjoy doing vs. what I might do to increase my income in the short term vs. what might — but only might — increase my income in the long term are ongoing conundrums shaped mostly by forces beyond my control). That leaves me torn about goals for next week. I have an annual report and taxes to work on in addition to the usual April commenting/conferencing crunch, and it may be that my usual writing time (to the extent that it’s available; there are issues with that, too) will be the best time to work on the annual report. In fact, I think that probably is the realistic thing to do, and at least would have the advantage of maintaining something that resembles the writing schedule I’d like to follow (not that I’ve had much success this semester). I also have editors’ comments back on the P article-in-revision (as distinct from the P article(s)-in-progress), and need to work work on them into the next few weeks. So I think there will be more P weeks before I get back to J.

    Goals for next week (not really writing, at least not on my chosen projects, but perhaps getting some things off my plate so writing will be possible later): Work on annual report during writing time. Get taxes done.

    1. Oh — I nearly forgot a bit of good, if not terribly surprising, news: the panel containing a version of the P project-in-progress has been accepted for a literature-focused conference scheduled for this fall. So I’ll have a chance to try the same approach as I did with the historians last week — saying “this is what I think is interesting about what I’ve found; what do *you* think is interesting?” — on a different audience. There’s still plenty of other work I can and should do in the interim, but I’m hoping the answers to such questions will come in handy when I get to the book proposal stage — or even to the sort of framing one does in the introduction to an article.

  8. On finishing: Like CPP, I work in a STEM field so journal articles have a pretty clear structure for the conclusion. Introductions are the things I find hardest to write! However, the ‘complicated paper’ I’ve been working on doesn’t fit that format since it’s a review/methodology development paper rather than being based on new data, and that (plus the rather poor state of conclusions of the last batch of essays from my grad student course this semester) has had me thinking again about the job of an ending. It needs to close the essay as neatly as one casts off (‘bind off’, I think, in US-knitting-speak?) a piece of knitting, and I have found that a useful simile since binding off both makes the piece into a closed, self-contained entity that won’t unravel and provides a sound foundation for joining it to another piece via a seam if necessary – which is what a conclusion needs to do, both summarise a self-contained thing and signal the wider connections. Knitting is often more fun though.

    Goals: a) revise the complicated paper using comments from one reader, then send out to all the co-authors, b) make that list of all the possible projects and c) do some freewriting around grant ideas.

    Achievements: I had such positive intentions for the last week, but they weren’t realised. I don’t even have any really tangible reasons for that. However, a) I have begun to revise the complicated paper – I’ve moved a lot of stuff around and am now doing the line-by-line corrections. b) I did some free-writing one morning which turned into this list. It’s kinda scary to look at – and a real pain that politically I should be focusing some attention on applying for grants, since I actually have enough good stuff to spend a couple of years just writing, and then I would probably write better grants (or at least have more of my own peer-reviewed stuff to cite to support grants), but nooo, got to keep applying. Sigh! c) not really.

    Analysis: I don’t know what went wrong this week. I cleaned my desk, I’m not at the office, I even got some good writing-related news (a paper submitted with one of my post-docs at the end of January for a special issue has been accepted with minor revisions, and all the comments are either genuine minor re-write this sentence type changes or ‘the reviewer is right that this should be explored in more detail, but within the limitations of this paper/special topic… [see post-doc-and-JaneB in prep]’ so the revisions will genuinely not take a lot of work. Yet… hardly any writing, and a new high score on what is possibly the stupidest game to snag my attention yet.

    Goals for next week: a) finish revising complicated paper, sort out all the details in the references and get all the roughs of the figures assembled, send out to co-authors. b) turn into a more coherant and typed list. c) freewriting. grant ideas. 15 minutes, three days, let’s say, to have an actual measurable goal. Because I can waffle for fifteen minutes on just about ANYTHING (see my blog…), and freewriting-on-a-topic is basically waffling on paper, right?

    1. I love, make that LOVE, the binding-off metaphor: it clarifies the confusing aspects of the conclusion (“both summarise a self-contained thing and signal the wider connections”) so well. I sometimes think, no, wait, this means I have to write/should have written a whole different paper, once I start addressing the wider connections.

      1. Thanks! I do think that’s one advantage of the introduction format common to STEM papers, which are supposed to start wide by summarising where some big conversation is and then focus down to ‘and the aim of this paper is…’ – in theory, this makes you set up the whole paper in the context of the wider connections.

        It doesn’t seem to make them any easier to write, and they are still perfectly capable of showing that the stuff you’ve done isn;t what you meant to do at all…

  9. Finishing? I love JaneB’s casting off metaphor—it is perfect for how I want to finish my articles. I often fall into wanting to have a flashy ending, when I should concentrate on tying everything up, while leading my readers to the joys of further research. I do wish sometimes I worked in STEM fields, so I had a more straightforward writing process.

    Goal: To finish the blanking article.

    Progress: I didn’t finish, although I am closer. I had to stop Thursday night to write up the internal grant application and work out the concomitant budget. I have renewed sympathy for CPP writing grants—I hate writing big grants, but I’m finding this local one painful as well.

    Analysis: I was a total magpie this week. I kept getting distracted while trying to tack down supporting documentation. Also, I knew this grant was hanging over me, and I kept finding enticing leads to other projects. Therefore, I was flitting about the library, saying essentially, “Ooh, shiny,” every twenty minutes. When I finally had scribbled enough notes for future use on those other projects, I found some very interesting archives to check out that bolster some of the dissertation. If I can manage to make myself work out the budget tomorrow, I will be done, and can return to the article.

    Goal for next week: Work an hour a day on the first article, and the second one if I manage to finish the first.

  10. Goal: write at least 20 minutes on M, T, Th, and at least 1 hour on W, F, Sa.
    Achieved: Mostly. I didn’t do anything on Friday, but I think I got some extra time in on Saturday. I re-outlined the MMP, wrote topic sentences for each paragraph, and created a document with one page per paragraph, into which I am moving material from previous drafts that goes with the new topic sentences. At school on Monday I will print that out so I have a hard copy to work from as I reconstruct the MMP. This should be the last of the structural changes; the rest will be footnotes and grooming.
    Analysis: everything goes fine as long as I go to bed early. Glendower still wakes up very early. Thursday I stayed up late reading a novel, with the result that I was trashed on Friday. Last night would have been all right except for the Tiny Cat coming to give Glendower instructions at 3:00 a.m. Instructions did not include sleeping late this morning.
    Goal for this week: write at least 20 minutes on M, T, Th, and at least 1 hour on W, F, Sa. Go to bed by 10 every night. Put together the complete draft and start polishing.

    1. I think our cats have been telepathically communicating with yours, as most of this week included 1:30am, 3am and 4:30 am waking up to meet, chatter and scratch at things. Recently Captain has decided that if daddy has gone to work mommy Must. Get Up. Now! I am not a 5:30am person. ugh.

      Now, is go to bed at 10 meaning you’re in bed but might read, or lights off?

    2. “everything goes fine as long as I go to bed early.” Even though I don’t currently have cats, this pretty much sums up my semester. Part of it is staying up late to try to finish long-overdue projects (often without actually finishing them), and part of it is waiting until I’m too tired to drag myself through my bedtime routine to go to bed. A much smaller part is evening meetings that drag on, but honestly, if I kept to a good routine every other night, I’d make it through those, one way or the other (probably waking at the usual earlyish time the next morning and getting to bed even earlier the next evening).

      Honestly, I think I need a bedtime routine, and a set time for it to begin, like a preschooler.

      1. I need that routine too. I have observed often enough over the years that when I am tired, I do not make good decisions. I eat too much, I read dumb stuff just because it’s lying around, I just futz about instead of brushing my teeth and lying down. I never read in bed because it isn’t good sleep hygiene. I mean in bed, lights out, at 10, which would mean starting the routine no later than 9:30, and 15 minutes earlier would be better. I think I’m going to try that, calling it “just for this week,” with the hope that it will go well enough/ become sufficiently habitual that I will keep it up. I would be more efficient if I took half a day off on Friday to read novels, but went to bed and got more sleep on Thursday, rather than staying up late to read and being completely trashed the next day.

  11. 1. My goal was a complete chapter draft, if only in skeletal form..

    2. Let’s just say that it is very bony! I ended up putting together only a sketchy outline beyond the 1/3 already written: adding another 150 words but it confirms the structure and what remains to be added.

    3.Analysis: a week where you have three days lost due to travel and medical issues (nothing serious) is not a week where you will get lots of writing done. Fortunately, this week I have a holiday Monday and, even though the whole family’s home, I can get some work done at home. Thursday should also be productive for writing.

    4. My goal? Get past the halfway point and complete the next major chapter section.

  12. hmmm. I teaching a good deal of public speaking and concluding, finishing well that is, is very important. My students learn pretty quickly that “That’s all I have to say.” is not ok. We spend a great deal of time watching introductions AND conclusions since they seem to struggle with both, but ending a speech seems to be he absolute hardest. I think that too many writing assignments have taught them they can write a weak ending and still get by. (Based off the essays I’ve read lately.) Not that I think my field is spectacular at ending our works–we’re not.

    Goal: Apply to 2 more jobs. Write one page or edit one section.

    Accomplished: applied to 1 of 2 jobs. Wrote about a page, but not for the project I originally intended on working on.

    Analysis: I kept telling myself I can’t apply to Job B until I applied to Job A, or else I’ll keep putting Job A off. It’s not ideal, not one I want as much as the others I’ve applied to, but it’d be something and it’d meet some of my other goals. But getting the materials for Job A was a mental struggle. For writing, well I had let a second project just kind of hang for awhile now and I realized how much in the last two weeks I had been thinking about it so I channeled my energy to that writing project instead of my main project. I can write mcu more sporadically for this side project and it was nice to get something accomplished there even it it wasn’t my original plan.

    New Goal: Do the other job application. Write/edit 1 page/section. Read 1 chapter. (I haven’t read in awhile.)

  13. Dame Eleanor, I found your comments about conclusions this week helpful, but if I try to articulate why, my check-in might not make the Sunday deadline.

    Last week’s goal: 1 hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

    Monday: 2 hours; Wed: 1 hr, 10 mins; Friday: 1 hour, barely

    Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong:

    It still takes me a lot of time to get started working, but since I eventually did get started, I met my goal. Getting ready for Easter could have been a major distraction, but I kept my errands relatively short instead of trying to get everything done at once when I had “free” (that is, writing) time. The result was that I didn’t get everything I wanted, and that Easter turned out just fine.

    Even without Easter, weekends are so exhausting (hence the late-Sunday night check-ins) that I seem to spend a lot of Monday recovering. I’m working on recognizing that and taking a break rather than zoning out with distractions for hours.

    I realized that one reason my revisions are going so slowly is that I want to be writing a different paper, which keeps trying to insert itself into the current ms. At this point, I don’t think the alluring paper-I-am-not-currently-writing would have an argument, but it did let me think about “what’s easy” a couple of weeks too late. I won’t go into detail about that now, but I was relieved to remember that there is something I’m good at, despite the self-critical bug that was buzzing around the “what’s easy” question before.

    Goal for next week:
    Monday and Friday: 1/2 hour of revising; Wednesday 1 hour.

  14. As soon as I read your post about finishing, I thought of knitting, too. I was just thinking today about knitting and writing and how I’m similar with both. With knitting, I love getting new yarn, starting a new project. My weakness? Weaving in the dangly ends once the body of work is done. I have a few scarves that have been waiting for a year for my to weave in the loose ends. Also, I have a baby blanket that I’m getting close to finishing, so what do I do? I start crocheting an Afghan.

    With writing, while I enjoy crafting an effective conclusion, I do enjoy then
    “finishing” of getting rid of the loose ends, making it all look just write. I much prefer starting a new chapter and even digging in to the middle of things as I watch it grow. But those very last steps–not my favorite–which is probably why I have rough drafts of several chapters and polished drafts of none.

    1. Last week’s goal: Write two pages. Read 30 pages of theory.

    2. Achieved: I read about 10 pages of theory, but I didn’t write.

    3. Not much has changed. I’m still overloaded with meeting because of the college crisis. But I did find out that I’ll be receiving a stipend for the extra work that I’m doing, so that is nice. I wish I could say that things will calm down after this semester, but know that the first half of next fall will be tough, too, as we prepare a couple of different accreditation reports. It’s difficult to face the reality of the ongoing crisis.

    BUT, this week is *finally* spring break. I won’t have a lot of time to work b/c we agreed to take in our niece and nephew for most of the week, so we’ll have four kids in the house for much of the week, but I will get a big part of Monday and Tuesday to work while Hubby drives to go pick up the kids. He kindly suggested that I stay home and work while he and our kids make the pick up, which is about five hours away. Although I have a couple of bigs stacks of essays, I plan to focus mostly on the dissertation while they’re gone (and a trip to the craft store so that I can have some projects on hand for when they get back).

    I love road trips with the family, so I’m sad not to hop in the car with them, but I’m really eager to get work done. I never get as much done as I hope, but I’m optimistic.

    4. Goal: add 5-7 pages to chapter, revise all of chapter to clarify theorectical approach, do article search on relevant side topic. Also, I want to get a lot of reading done, but I still need to figure out how best to target those efforts.

    1. Bleck. Such embarrassing typos. It’s the iPad. I swear. Autocorrect kicks my ass and sets out to make me look like an idiot.

      I reely due no how to right. 😉

  15. Last Week’s goal: keep trying to get 5 more pages of chapter version.

    Accomplished: only about 2 pages, but also had to start writing the draft of a hiring proposal, the draft of an annual report for my department, and another big stack of annual review letters, so I’m counting 2 pages as a win.

    What worked: carving out small bits of time and forcing myself to focus in short intervals

    This week’s goal: those elusive 3 pages

    On conclusions: I am not sure I have any great advice. I have a long history now of what I intend to be my conclusions actually turning out to be the introductions to the next project! So then I end up writing a pretty boring summing up kind of conclusion. I have one conclusion I love, though, which is a sort of coda with a close reading of an example that both wraps things up and opens some new questions.

  16. New term has started, and I have new classes to meet, new lectures to prepare, new people to work with. Visiting this place after a few days, I have overwhelmed by wide discussion going here.

    Last week’s goal: finishing my main material, starting to write my argument, writing 15 minutes a day

    Achieved: material: still need to be read and analyzed; argument: starting to construct only in my brain; writing: only two days

    Analysis: I should have prepared for my classes well in advance. My new administrative work put pressure on me; I feel stressed perhaps more than I have to.

    Goals for next: finishing reading materials, definitely; constructing arguments, definitely; at first, making a practical plan of working time.

      1. Thank you, Dame, yes, I hope the starting busyness will be calmed down, soon, and small goals will help me to, at least, doing something.

  17. Alas, I am a slacker. Or something. Well, I will explain in a moment.

    I’m going to try to pick back up here, and just move forward.

    I did not post goals for last week. Posting here was just one of the various things I either did not get to or couldn’t bring myself to do. I’m not really sure which. I couldn’t really bring myself to do much writing, either. I ran a bunch of stats for a project one day, wrote a few paragraphs on an article, wrote a few paragraphs on the book proposal. I also pulled together and gave a presentation that I actually think will be useful for me as I move forward, helping to frame and describe my research agenda. That perhaps was the most positive scholarship outcome.

    Analysis: paralysis!
    It’s a two issue paralysis. The first issue is one you all know quite well: overwhelmed with non-scholarship work. As of last week, I have concluded the part of my semester that involved (not joking) a student defense a week. I’ve read hundreds of pages for said defenses this semester. In the last two weeks, I also had my student who defended finish revisions, and have rounded a bend on the draft for the student who wants to defend really soon. I survived two big work events (both sucking up an entire day), graded 3 sets of brief papers for the 10-person class and 1 set of long papers for the 20-person class, graded department exams (comps), organized and ran two last-minute faculty meetings for discussing critical events, dealt with way too many summer/fall registration questions and auxiliary budget issues that just came up all at once … and, well, you know.

    The second issue, which I’ve decided to share here (perhaps letting it out will provide some degree of mental relief?), but not on my blog and please note that it’s not known even by most immediate family at this time so if you know me IRL please don’t say anything in another public forum (e.g., my blog, FB, in a face-to-face meeting) until I have said something there: I’m pregnant. 11w5d, to be exact. I’m exhausted, nauseous, etc. etc. And terrified of another miscarriage. I was totally losing my mind last week (convinced there is not really a living being inside), and I have another full week until I see the OB again. This week I’m doing better, partly because I’m seeing a tiny baby bump which I’m taking as a good sign (last time: found out at 10.5 weeks that heart stopped at 7.5 weeks; lost rather than gained weight). And since my husband, my mother, and 3 local friends are the only folks who know, I’m just sitting around quietly crying to myself all day.

    Bottom line: I’m not really in a good space to be productive right now.

    This week is not as overwhelming as the last few have been (although ILs are visiting Thurs-Sun). My only obligations beyond teaching are grading 10 papers, attending a seminar, and providing feedback on a dissertation draft. Easy-peasy after the last few weeks. But can I find my writing mojo?

    Goals: Move forward on book proposal and BS manuscript. Ideally, between my Tuesday and Thursday writing times I can finish one of those. I’m going to use Monday to strike all of the annoying little items off my list and then will just let the list start anew and pile up for the whole week, favoring writing over non-emergency advising/administration/service.

    1. Congratulations! I know how you feel worried, but already your little one is 11w 5d old, and this means that the baby is enjoying bewing with you.

    2. Congratulations—on being through the defenses, surviving the big events, and everything else, all while feeling rotten. You sound like SuperWoman, not a slacker. Best wishes!

Comments are now closed.