I have to write a paper for Kalamazoo.  In a sense, it’s already started.  I’ve been thinking about the manuscripts on which it focuses for a few years now.  I wrote the abstract last summer, and there isn’t much about it I want to change right now.  This week, I sent some 2000 words of notes to my RL writing group, with the questions, “What patterns do you see?  What do you want to know more about?”

2000 words is enough for a 20-minute paper, the way I read.  But these are not, yet, the right words.  There’s a lot of plot summary.  Some of it is necessary, not just to acquaint the audience with the story, but as part of the actual argument.  Even so, I want to cut down on the plot.  I feel like I’m at the stage where I’m pushing pieces around, trying to work out the pattern.  Also there are things I would like to know more about in order to answer some of the questions I have, but no one  (that I can find) has written about these things, and working them out from scratch would be a huge, hairy, ugly proposition, worthy of a dissertation.  So I need to figure out how to avoid those questions and focus the paper through some other analytic lens.

I think this is what Boice means by his rule #2, “Wait.”  I have collected my mosaic bits, read some articles, done some bibliography searches, taken notes when reading for the MMP (or teaching, or whatever) coincides with the Zoo paper.

Soon I will need to do the “real writing,” and I need to think about how and where to start.  I feel like I’m on the verge of moving from one method of starting to a new way, but I’m not quite there yet.  All the thoughtful attention to what I’m doing now and have done in the past for the MMP, all the posts for writing groups in the past year, make me feel like something in my process needs to shift.  But as with pushing the mosaic bits of my argument around, I’m not quite sure how the process is going to change.  I’m still waiting.

How do you get started?

Roll call:

Amstr: 1) rest, 2) write 1000 (or more) words on Chapter 3, 3) read 5 theory articles, 4) take care of photocopying and bibliographic details.
ComradePhysioProf: checked in, but no goal posted.
Contingent Cassandra: (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.
DEH: 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.
EAM: Work an hour a day on the first article, and the second one if I manage to finish the first.
FeMOMhist: 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.
GEW: 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.
Ink: 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.
JaneB: 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.
JLiedl: Get past the halfway point and complete the next major chapter section.
kiwimedievalist: 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.
Luo Lin: Monday and Friday: 1/2 hour of revising; Wednesday 1 hour.
Matilda: finishing reading materials, definitely; constructing arguments, definitely; at first, making a practical plan of working time.
Nancy Warren: 3 pages.
profgrrrl: Move forward on book proposal and BS manuscript.
Rented Life: Do the other job application. Write/edit 1 page/section. Read 1 chapter.
Sapience: Work on cutting down my conference paper draft for KZoo from 20 minutes to 15.

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77 thoughts on “Spring 2012 Writing Group, Week 10: starting

  1. What you describe–finding all the pieces, looking at them but not *quite* seeing the patterns yet, writing lots of plot summary or ultimately unecessary bits that will have to get cut down later–is usually how I start too.

    Goal for last week: Work on cutting down my conference paper draft for KZoo from 20 minutes to 15. (Implied goal: give chapter 4 the silent treatment and see if it comes to apologize for being so difficult.)

    Achieved: Cut down the conference paper from 10 pages down to 8.

    Analysis: If I read my KZoo paper really fast, I can get it down to 15 minutes! I ended up cutting a lot of quotations from the actual presentation and putting them on a handout, so people can read them as I talk about them. Not my favorite tactic, but the best I can do for this particular paper. Also, I think chapter 4 may have come to give me a peace offering, as I have a new angle that I’m ready to try. I started working on it this morning, and I think I have a new intro and the start to a new outline. Not sure if it will work long term, but it’s better than what I was doing.

    Goal for next week: Revision of at least 5 pages of chapter 4 (that’s probably far lower than I’ll get, but I also need to do some work for my summer research trip, which is going to mean figuring out which libraries have which manuscripts and books I want to look at and writing requests for access. I’m not yet sure how much time that will take.)

    1. Don’t read fast. Cut some more. It is hard enough to follow an oral presentation that is given at a normal speed. But I think our papers are at the same time, so I will not be sitting there looking dazed and confused.

      I’m glad to hear that chapter 4 is being more tractable now.

      1. I said that because I always find myself reading much faster in front of a group, anyway, and then if I finish early I feel idiotic. Nerves, maybe? But good point, DEH.

      2. I was exaggerating slightly, and yes, I will be cutting a bit more. It’s getting harder to maintain the integrity of the argument, though…

  2. Goal: one page
    Achieved: two pages plus research!
    Analysis: think it’s better to keep the expectations low because it felt different this week…not Oh No I Can Never Do IT but It’s Just One Page, So I Can Do It.
    Goal: another page plus revisions

    1. Keeping expectations realistic also stops us from beating ourselves up when we fail to meet the unrealistic expectations. Good for you in seeing this and getting stuff done!

    2. If low expectations work, go for it. They’ve been working for me the past few weeks. I’ve done a lot more than I did the previous few weeks when I had higher expectations.

      1. Thanks, all. It seems like “Opposite Day,” as my kids call it, kind of thinking but it’s taken the pressure off, which is much nicer than aiming for the moon and not even getting out of the driveway…

  3. Goal: Move forward on book proposal and BS manuscript

    Achieved: Well, I did do a bit of work on each. More on the manuscript than the proposal. Actually, I feel like I made significant progress on the manuscript.

    Analysis: It was not the most productive week I’ve ever had in terms of scholarship, and I let that be the case. It was, however, the last true crazy week of the term and I crossed a ton of big teaching, service, and administration tasks off my list. I figured it was better to do those while fatigued and feeling nausea and then use my good moments for writing. And, well, I’m just kind of letting it all be right now. It is what it is. I may be able to triumph over lots of workplace annoyances, but when it’s a battle between me and morning sickness or stress, I just can’t win. I have two OB appointments Monday morning (first try screening at the high risk dude, then regular OB), and I recognize that my whole week next week could be destroyed one way or another (all is well and I’ll be giddy and distracted; all is not well and I could be stressed or scheduling more procedures). It’s out of my control. I’m trying to accept that and accept what it means for scholarship at the moment. It’s OK to not always be productive. It is.

    Goal: Touch the manuscript each day until it’s done (whenever that is). Do necessary work to set up summer study (write the IRB, etc.)

    1. “Touch it every day” keeps you, literally, in touch with the project. That’s the main thing. And yes, sometimes you have to accept less productivity. You’re producing in other ways (teaching; biologically). It will get better. Summer’s coming, and morning sickness and pregnancy both pass with time!

    2. Good on you for getting stuff done despite all the craziness of the term. I hope you can touch the manuscript daily and get to feel giddy a LOT!

      1. I love the “touch it every day” idea, too. And wait, morning sickness? I missed something! Yay! Going to read your blog…

    3. Well … the OB appointment was not good. That makes 2 “no heartbeat” ultrasounds in 6 months. It’s a lot to take in, and in some ways a big picture game changer for what our life will look like (can’t say that it’s necessarily bad, just different; we see some advantages to staying put as a fabulous family of 3). D&C tomorrow morning. And then … ??? I don’t know. Not feeling all that hopeful for productivity this week, but I’m going to try to not wallow in self-pity and to throw myself into work and family stuff if at all possible.

  4. I like getting started on new ideas, and so I’ve really enjoyed digging into this “new chapter” over the past few months, but I kept getting frustrated that starting was taking so long (or lasting so long). The problem was that I was trying to write before I really knew very much. When I first started the PhD thesis, my supervisor said, “Don’t think you can read everything and

    *then* write; start writing right away, even from a place of ignorance.” I took that advice to heart, so that’s what I do. But then it takes me quite a long time to make progress because I’m learning as I go, digging myself out of a hole. But I suppose that’s where the “waiting” comes in. I feel as if, as of this week, I had finally waited long enough and done enough reading and thinking to really start making progress. I’m not sure if I’m still starting or if I’m in the middle, but, either way, it feels great, and I realize that there was just no way for me to make progress any earlier. I didn’t know what I needed to know.

    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.

    Achieved: I did pretty much all of it! I don’t know that I wrote 5-7 pages, but between all that I edited and fixed and added, it might have been that much. But I read a lot of different things and and found articles and learned stuff and clarified ideas and it felt great. I’m getting close to having a draft that people can read so that I can get feedback. And I think I’m also building some foundations that will help me with the remaining chapters.

    Analysis: This week was spring break, and I had a 24-hour stretch with no family around. I’m so proud of myself for making the most of it and not futzing around and wasting it. Also, while I’ve checked work email about the college crisis and have gotten pretty stressed a few times, I’ve tried to block most of it out this week for the sake of the dissertation and the family. I’ve also blown off my grading. Oh, if every week could be focused just on family, research, and writing. Shoot, I’d even keep the teaching if I could ditch the college crisis work.

    Goal for next week: Read 20 pages of a secondary support book (or one article) and write two pages. (It’ll be tricky with everything going on, but I want to keep up my momentum!)

    1. Yay!!! Congrats on your very productive 24 hours, and for protecting spring break.

      I hope the college crisis is resolved soon (in a very positive way). I think this year of service might count quadruple for you.

      Here’s to momentum!

    2. That sounds like good advice–writing right away. I kept putting off my current project because I felt like I didn’t know enough until I was encouraged to at least get down the ideas I *do* have.

      Can you skip out on service next year with all you’re dealing with on the college crisis? 😛

      1. I really wish I could skip on it next year, but I have reassigned time for a position that will carry on for two more years, and this position requires me to be at the table for the crisis, which means the work goes way beyond the release time (which is one class, so I still have three classes a term, mostly comp). In addition to the college crisis, my reassignment position is going to require a labor intensive accreditation report for October and then deep involvement with our comprehensive self-study due In 2014. I short, I’m screwed for the next two years. But then? It’s cianara, Sweetheart! I’m bailing on service for a few years after that. But it’s a real bummer to know what the next two years are going to be like. But I’ll try to stop complaining about it in all of my posts! ;). (Then again, if our college loses its accreditation and closes its doors, which is a real threat right now,Hubby and I will be out of work, and I’ll have all the time in the world to finish the dissertation!

      2. Eek! Well, sometimes the priorities make themselves rather clear.

        Any chance of jumping ship/starting a job search? Though with two jobs in one place, you’ve got harder-to-surpass situation. And searching ABD in this market would be hard.

  5. 1. do I stay with side project #1 or switch to more fruitful side project #2?

    2. kid spring break + visiting company = no work of any sort this week! YIKES

    3. have def decided to switch horses (again) to 2nd side project

    4. get 1 more section completed of side project

    1. It’s ok…work will be there when you’re free. Always is…sigh. Or huzzah, depending on how we are feeling about it at that moment. Good that you decided and I hope all goes well.

  6. goal: 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 coherent and typed list. c) freewriting. grant ideas. 15 minutes, three days, let’s say, to have an actual measurable goal.

    achieved: a) revised complicated paper, and it’s now ready to go out to the co-authors next week. There’s one section I haven’t really touched but hopefully one of the co-authors will do something with it, they are co-authors after all (and I have a pretty good idea who it will be – the other really busy person on the list). (b) I turned the free-writing about things I need to write into a table. There are 29 items in the table, and that deliberately excludes the papers from students’ theses which they never finished/submitted, they have now gone on to new jobs, but I put a plentitude of time into and the work is sufficiently aligned with my research agenda that it is worth publishing. And it excludes two book-length projects I want to do, but common-sense says I should focus on papers. No wonader I get overwhelmed and hop from thing to thing! I added a column of ‘next thing to do’ for each project, so where the next thing is relatively easy and quick I’ll try to knock those off over the next month or so. c) I put off and put off, and then decided to free-write about why it was hard to do, and lo and behold, that evolved, and now I have identified the two ideas to take further at this moment, for which deadlines, and what the next steps are. It was one long session rather than three little ones but it worked!

    analysis: I’ve not had a good week, but I did get these little writing goals done. I’m glad to be sending out complicated paper!

    next week: a) paper with MSc student (draft results and discussion sections) b) paper WierdBugMan wants to see, draft results and note the main discussion points.

    1. Congrats on some great accomplishments. It sounds like you have a much better sense of where you are and where you need to go. Freewriting has saved me many a time as well. It’s a handy little trick.

      1. Yes: that sounds like really useful progress. Recognizing how many projects you want to work on is a necessary stop in figuring out how to get them done (or which ones most need to be done). And having a complete list corrals the anxiety that tends to come when an idea flits across your brain and you feel like you have to remember it but there are already all the other THINGS.

  7. 1. My goal was: Get past the halfway point and complete the next major chapter section.

    2. My reality was: work on writing? What writing? *facepalm*

    3. My analysis: term’s over and, theoretically, I should be free. In reality, the combination of Easter (which involved lots of travel and visiting), a late grade class shoe-horned in, another set of meeting and tonnes of marking? I muzzily thought about the chapter progress on Friday morning but had to say ‘forget it.’

    So, lesson learned: when my schedule opens up, my sense of classroom/meeting time and marking time versus writing time falls apart. Suddenly ALL the time is marking time or meeting time or whatever. No: I am setting aside two days and one afternoon to write (Monday, Thursday and Wednesday afternoon).

    4. My goal is: 1000 words.

    1. Good luck! And yes, that sudden open time is such a problem. When it goes on for awhile, as on sabbatical, I think we learn to cope with it, but at the end of a term it’s disorienting.

      1. At the end of term, I often feel as if I’m not allowed to do anything else until all of the grading is finished. Not always the most productive mindset. Good luck with those 1000 words!

    2. Totally understand. It’s hard to balance everything you’re doing and something we just have to acknowlege that and go for whatever has to be finished first, deadlinewise. Good luck with this week’s goal!

  8. On starting: I have very bad ‘starting’ habits. I procrastinate, a lot. Sometimes that’s kind of useful procrastination, such as making a nice graph, or paperchasing through a few references on vaguely related topics, but mostly it’s unproductive in terms of the writing at least (its amazing how much procrastination can be achieved by spending a little more time on each email you need to reply to etc.).

    But eventually there comes a point where I really need to start, and here I collect the pieces I have either literally as a pile of paper/printouts/readings or as words on paper, and I get out my fountain pen and some blank or quadrille paper (lined paper is no good for this stage at all) and I write. I write whatever bits make sense – it’s not really freewriting because it’s not continuous, I might be jotting down figure captions or drawing little pictures or adding things in with arrows. It’s thinking on paper. It’s using the paper as external storage to start laying out all the little tendrils of thoughts that have wandered around in my head for a while. Sometimes I need to do this stage multiple times, but at some point, I’m ready to start putting in some bullet points under the section headings of a paper (STEM papers have pretty standard structures), and I do that on screen.

    The move to electronic writing is when I really regard the paper as started, as opposed to just being a paper idea, but the starting process nearly always involves a fountain pen and plain paper. Why those tools? Because they are the most fluid, least structured tools for externalising the stuff in my head that I have. Even mind-map or note-making software still gets in the way – I have to make boxes and drag things around and move around on the screen and switch between mouse and keyboard – whilst with pen and paper, I have freedom to write and doodle upside down and sideways and all over the shop (hence the preference for plain or quadrille, rather than lined – also, ‘keeping on the line’ is something I was bad at at school when learning to write, and the lines also make me think of all the basics like the correct size and shape of letter elements etc.. so having lines awakes some very early Critical Bugge Voices which focus on how I am writing not what I am writing. I’d not realised that before ‘writing’ this, but that is definitely a good reason to avoid lined paper!). Fountain pens just run faster for me, and I have a nice not-very-expensive pen with a rubber grip which suits my hand and is weighted well and easy to hold and move even if my wrist is sulking (I have a chronic repetitive strain thingie which is made worse by mouse use and I use the mouse in my dominant hand because no-one suggested otherwise when I was starting out…). Ideally, my plain paper is resting on a writing slope too, for maximum comfort. The point at which it all starts to come together is the best bit of a paper! Yet still, I procrastinate and procrastinate…

    1. Could the procrastination really be part of the process? Are things percolating while you think you’re procrastinating? I think one way to tell is by how the listing and thinking goes once you settle down to it. If you get lots of good ideas going, that may be a sign that you needed the percolation time.

      1. I start on paper, too. It’s imperative that I be able to scratch things out, draw arrows, circle key ideas, etc.

  9. On starting: your process sounds a lot like mine, except, perhaps, that I sometimes find myself wondering just how many bits of how many different mosaics I have jumbled together. But producing enough prose, in terms of word count, is never a problem; finding a shape and argument sometimes is.

    Last week’s goal: Work on annual report during writing time. Get taxes done.

    Accomplished: some progress on the annual report (due Monday). Also some progress on taxes, but I’ll end up filing an extension in favor of keeping up with grading (my usual modus operandi, and even if it seems odd to leave a refund in the hands of the IRS any longer than necessary, the money comes in useful over the summer). Some stray thoughts on how to approach the P article-in-progress.

    Analysis: the annual report is frustrating, because so much of the work involved is really clerical: assembling syllabi and assignments and such and getting them into some sort of order that will make the mountain of virtual paper a bit easier to navigate for the reviewer. Since teaching is the only criterion on which I’m evaluated, I’m very, very greatful that student evals aren’t the sole measure of quality, but the whole process is frustratingly time consuming, and falls at a bad time of year. There’s a bit of reflecting-on-teaching writing involved, but not enough for me to feel I really “wrote” this week. The stray thoughts about the article were encouraging, even if they never made it from my head to pixels; I credit this group, and the conference I attended a few weeks ago, with at least keeping me in touch with the project.

    Goal for next week: work on conference follow-ups/ancillary tasks related to the P project (real writing will resume soon, but some of these are becoming urgent, and I’ve got very limited time to do anything but grade and hold conferences).

    1. I should probably consider whether my bits belong to more than one picture! It might make things easier. I always start out completely convinced that they all beong together if I could just work out how.

  10. I usually start the actual writing because I have a deadline (sadly). I’ll often invent a deadline and then try to push through writing a bunch of words in a week, just to get a bad draft. As I’ve mentioned before, I think, I often do iterations instead of revising, and getting one bad draft done that I’ll throw out shows me where I need to do thinking and research. After some time with the text and criticism, I’ll dive in for another draft. A lot of my writing really starts in freewrites or in outline/lists. And I invariably get stuck enough that I have to talk through what I’m trying to argue to figure it out.

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

    Accomplished: 1) I did rest and felt pretty useless the first half of the week, 2) no additional words, 3) read 5 theory articles, 3 of which are very helpful, 4) done.

    Analysis: The first half of the week was taken up with one sick kid, one kid on spring break, two days of canceled babysitters, a doctor’s appointment, and general lethargy. Much of the last few days has been spent trying to get my 4 yr old to take nasty antibiotics. Thanks to one “back to normal” day and an afternoon today (provided by amazing husband and Netflix), I got through much of what I wanted to accomplish. I did feel the big lull after turning in a big project, and it was difficult to get back into the mindset to do more work. I picked up a theory article on Wed. and it made absolutely no sense to me. Today was much better.

    This week I’m off to meet with my advisor (this involves a cross-country flight with no children), so my goals will be modest.

    New Goals: 1) write 1000 words on Chapter 3, 2) take notes on theory articles, 3) read 5 more articles, 4) record necessary stuff from advisor meetings and write in between meetings to process feedback.

      1. After a big push to finish something like that, I always have an urge to buy new bed linens and clean out a bathroom cabinet. I think color and cleanliness help me recover! Good smelling candles, too, are a fairly inexpensive remedy.

        Hope the kiddos are better, and I hope the trip is smooth.

  11. Just submitted another post-doc’s new manuscript on Friday! Current goals are to finish editing and submit a revised version of a grad student’s manuscript, to write to invited review articles, and to finish editing and submit a revised version of a pre-doctoral training grant application.

  12. Last week’s goal: 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.

    Accomplished: Writing sessions as planned M-Th, if you count “moving the project forward” as writing. I printed out the one-page-per-paragraph document so I’d have something to work with, but haven’t worked with it yet. I also did some work on the Zoo paper. Bed at 10 just isn’t happening; 11 is usually the best I can do. But I’m going to keep trying.

    Analysis: As to time spent, M-Th went okay; the weekend so far has been a lot of procrastinating because of having too many tasks that have to get done, and thus not starting any of them. OTOH, after staying up late on a bad-novel reading-binge, I feel healthily sick of my sloth and ready to dig in to those tasks, starting with finishing off the taxes and then checking some student work. Today I also want to read through the Zoo-paper notes I gave to my RL writing group, so I’ll be ready to hear comments about them tomorrow.
    On the one hand, it seems like my life would be better (more sleep!) if I didn’t do these reading binges. On the other, I’ve done them periodically for years, and have cut back a lot in more recent years, and I do enjoy them, even when afterwards I wonder why I spent my time on such trash. I think I’d rather just accept them as a part of my life and work around them. I read a post at Research as a Second Language about moderation and a scheduled, organized life that sounded very sensible and oppressively dull. Sometimes such posts inspire me to increase the amount of routine in my life, and sometimes they make me want to rebel. This time it was the latter; hence last night’s binge.

    New goals: same time goals. I’m not very happy about having the MMP and the Zoo paper going simultaneously, and I need to decide how to manage this: alternate days on each? Put together a draft of the Zoo paper, then put it aside to finish the MMP? It may depend on the feedback I get tomorrow.

    1. You tell us that “moving the project forward” counts, so it counts for you too!

      I think that not having an organized scheduled life isn’t all that bad, even if so muc literature tells us how unuseful it is. Sometimes having those nights where we work late, read “trash”, decide we’re going out the treat ourselves to dinner instead of following the sensible stay at home and make dinner, is all crucial to life. Recently husband and I both got reall antsy and broke out routines a few days these last couple weeks. I felt better than if I had stayed on the sensible path. So read your fun novels! We need it.

      1. ‘healthily sick of my sloth’ – I love that phrase! It’s a really nice feeling, sometimes, isn’t it? And I’m always happy to hear about other people having bad fiction binges – any recommendations??

    2. I think sometimes we need to ebb and flow with our natural patterns. Perhaps your brain needs these binges and, without them, there would be some other negative effect that would affect productivity even more. Maybe the binges just help remind you how much you truly need work of substance. (The way I feel the need to eat lots of good salad after too much sugar or red meat. At those times, salad never tasted so good!)

    3. I, too, suspect the bad-fiction binges might be serving a purpose. My current rationale(ization) for aiming for a day of light fiction (usually mystery) reading a week (which is working out to part of one such day a month) is that I’m giving my brain a chance to remember what it feels like to concentrate on one thing, and one thing only, for an extended period of time — or, in other words, to try to counteract the “your brain on the internet/multiple windows with multiple tasks” syndrome.

      Or maybe we just need some time when we’re awake, and one level of our brain is occupied, but not *too* occupied, just as we need dreaming.

      And yes, I think different levels of structure work for different people (and perhaps at different times). What works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. If most tasks that need to get done are getting done (or at least consciously deferred with due attention to both the urgent and the important), then your routine is probably working for you.

      But I still want to go to bed earlier, and haven’t consistently achieved that either, even last night, when I clearly was free to do so. So now I’m grading at molasses pace today. “Procrastinating because of having too many tasks that have to get done, and thus not starting any of them” rings a major bell for me, and is a state which often leads to late, equally unproductive nights.

    4. if you count “moving the project forward” as writing. = YES!

      And a bad-novel-reading-binge is necessary sometimes!

      RE: drafting, I agree with option B. Easier to do one, then move onto next instead of bopping back and forth between. At least for my brain but perhaps yours can track both developments at once?

  13. Goal: finishing reading materials, constructing arguments, making a practical plan

    Achieved: I have started to doing all of them, but I have nothing accomplished.

    Analysis: I have so much materials to read. I know that I have to chose what are the most important, and then this means that I need to limit my paper’s sphere. My arguments are still under construction. I am not confident that I can say this or that with the materials I am reading. I have tried to fix a practical working schedule; checking my regular classes and meeting, the day I can expect a helping hand for my children and so on. Then I’ve found I do have time, but also how much domestic chores also take my time. Somebody has to do these things, anyway.

    Goal for next week: working on materials and arguments; starting to write a draft for my presentation; revising my writing schedule.

  14. Starting–I just write pieces, with no concern to order until everything in my head is out. Then I print it up, cut it up sometimes, and piece things together, throwing out what won’t work, making note of holes or where I need more research/info. I know a lot of people who start “at the beginning” but I’ve never been good with that.

    goal: Do the other job application. Write/edit 1 page/section. Read 1 chapter.

    Accomplished: Did TWO job applications. I have found two additional jobs last week. I applied the one I intended to when I wrote my goal and completed an application to one of the other jobs I found, while starting a rough outline of a cove letter for the another application. (It’s so far outside of what I normally apply to that it’s taking a little extra brainpower to piece together a good letter.) No other reading or writing outside of WORK occured 😦

    Analysis: I didn’t expect to find two more jobs but when I do find that I need to jump on it, so that took priority. I’ve also been trying to create very different applications than usual to hopefully prompt some interviews. So while I’m not happy about not working on my project, I also know that what I did work on is important. Additionally, I had a few extra meetings than normal this week….the campus is trying to revise items that would impact assessment and that has caused all manner of extra meetings (which we do not need at the end of the semester!) which are time consuming. Thursday night I had an unexpected amount of energy which I channeled into organizing my grading and what’s left of my courses, to get a better handle on what needs to happen in the next month. That’s taken off some stress. Friday I finally returned to the habit I was trying to develop–I had a schedule for “free time” in my day and I stuck to it. I need to do that more.

    There’s more meetings this coming week and I’m going away next weekend, so I’m not sure how that will impact things.

    New goal: Finish started job application. Read one chapter. Any writing on my project is a bonus.

    1. That’s great that you finished the job app and found two more openings! And you have my complete sympathy for last minute assessment work. I really dislike when service work ramps up at the end of term instead of winding down.

      1. me too! Especially since the last school I was at was doing this same type of assessment/re-figuring institutional goals, so I’m wondering if these projects just follow me? haha. I’m really excited about some of these job opportunities though.

      2. Well, once your college gets done with re-figuring assessment, just come over to mine to deal with it again!

    2. Good for you and good luck with everything else. Glad that you’re building in a bit of freetime/creativethinking/rest as well.

    3. Yes to all of it! Congrats on job apps and openings and creatively approaching the application process. And free time is a must (as is taking pleasure in that free time).

  15. Last week’s goal: Monday and Friday: 1/2 hour of revising; Wednesday 1 hour.

    Accomplished:
    40 minutes Monday and Wednesday. Nothing Friday.

    Analysis of what worked or not…
    The week was even busier than I had expected, especially Friday. On top of that, I didn’t get enough sleep at the beginning of the week. Between the sleep and the busy schedule and stress at home, by the end of the week, I was low on will power.

    Goal for next week:
    One hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

    1. “low on willpower” = such a big obstacle for me when I get tired! Good articulation. Congrats on the 40 mins!

  16. On starting: I ruminate and read and think, sometimes for far too long. Like GEW’s, my advisor also told me to start writing and see what I have to research further as I go. I find that I still have to have some gelling time before I start. At that point, I am much like JaneB–fountain pen and paper on a drafting board. I data dump, free write, then draw arrows, asterisks and so on.

    It’s ironic that this week would be about starting, given that I threw away the first three pages, and starting all over again.

    1. Write for an hour a day on the first article, and then on the second, if I finish the first.

    2. I didn’t finish the first article, but breaking down the old structure by throwing away the first pages was incredibly freeing, and I don’t feel that I’ve failed by not finishing.

    3. The most important thing I learned is that my precious words are not that precious if they are not informative, interesting, and alluring. Also, I don’t write the same way I did ten years ago when I first wrote this draft, and I don’t need to continue to chafe within a style that I have outgrown.

    4. Continue to work an hour a day.

  17. My way of starting, when I don’t have a deadline that makes the decision for me, is to wait until I feel I absolutely HAVE to write. That is, I read, and think, and take notes, and then I know it is time, and I write and write, very quickly, generally speaking. I know the baby / book comparisons are obnoxious, but it is awfully like the way one finally, simply HAS to push in labor. When I had my second son, my midwife was occupied with another woman delivering a child when I got to that point, and I sent my husband out into the hallway to find someone, anyone (a nurse, a janitor, a bystander, I did not care), to come catch the baby, because I was going to push no matter what! I feel like that with writing when I can let the process happen “naturally.” Of course, I often have to make myself start before I feel ready, And that, sort of, is like the induced labor I had with my first son. Slower, and in some ways more painful, but a means to a good end all the same.

    This week’s goal: 3 pages of my chapter.

    Accomplished: not a blessed thing, chapter wise, except some thinking in odd moments (while running, in the shower, while driving). I did have one pretty good idea about how to reshape some things, I think.

    What worked: not much, because all hell was breaking loose in various aspects of my life, and I was running from crisis to crisis. And also still in the process of buying a house, which takes way more time than I expected.

    Goal for this week: try to do the reshaping I have in mind, and keep plugging away at getting those pages. Also, time to start the Kalamazoo paper, which I have to extract from a longer draft of a different chapter.

    1. That sounds very much like Boice’s “waiting,” which is deliberate waiting while preparing; then the writing happens naturally, growing out of the notes, mapping, and so on.

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