I didn’t get this post written & scheduled in advance, and I’m feeling very scattered today.  The Tiny Cat has been losing weight for no clear reason, so we had another vet appointment for her this morning; and the Shakespearean Heroine has a UTI caused by highly antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, so she’s been poorly all week despite the wide-spectrum antibiotic she’s been on.  I will shortly be going to collect the one drug the vet could find to treat this.  So the day so far has been eaten by cat troubles and troubled cats: I am trying to get some things done in my study right now, but Glendower keeps munching on me, the power cord, my pen, and anything else he can find.  Cat toys are just as popular as anything else, but basically he defines everything smaller than a bread box as a cat toy.

So, post your results and new goals, and if you have any concentration tips (or if you’d like a fluffy black cat), leave a comment about that, too!

Amstr: 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.
ComradePhysioProf: finish editing and submit a revised version of a grad student’s manuscript, write two invited review articles, and finish editing and submit a revised version of a pre-doctoral training grant application.
Contingent Cassandra: work on conference follow-ups/ancillary tasks related to the P project
DEH: 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
EAM: Continue to work an hour a day.
FeMOMhist: get 1 more section completed of side project
GEW: Read 20 pages of a secondary support book (or one article) and write two pages.
Ink: another page plus revisions.
JaneB: a) paper with MSc student (draft results and discussion sections) b) paper WeirdBugMan wants to see, draft results and note the main discussion points.
JLiedl: 1000 words.
Luo Lin: One hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Matilda: working on materials and arguments; starting to write a draft for my presentation; revising my writing schedule.
Nancy Warren: 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.
profgrrrl: Touch the manuscript each day until it’s done (whenever that is). Do necessary work to set up summer study (write the IRB, etc.)
Rented Life: Finish started job application. Read one chapter. Any writing on my project is a bonus.
Sapience: 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.

41 thoughts on “Writing Group, week 11: scrambling

  1. Hope the cats are better soon! Awwwww. Hugs to everyone.

    Goals: one page plus
    Achieved: four new pages plus a bunch of revised pages (didn’t count them but it was enough that I reprinted 100 pages so as to be able to read the “new” version)
    Analysis: low goal = good
    Next goal: survive the grading avalanche and get two new pages done!

    1. Good luck with the grading. I still find that getting up my nerve to dive into a pile is the hardest part. But don’t let that overwhelm you. I know that I’m not looking forward to next Tuesday afternoon when the Ancient Near Eastern exams hit my desk!

  2. My goal was 1000 words

    My actual word count was just under 500 (499, literally)

    My analysis? One day of focused writing was all that I needed. I’ve got two separate chunks of text that need to be brought into alignment – I think the final week will let me put together a polished version now that I have the rough sections blasted out. The goal is to have this out by the end of April: I think I can make it if I stop thinking about adding more and start thinking about pulling what I have together.

    Goal for next week: Complete the draft.

    Thanks, Dame Eleanor, for an inspiring hosting experience. Without this group I would have gotten my first chapter and my grant done, but this last chapter would have been impossible.

    1. Yay for 499 beautiful new words!

      Also, “I think I can make it if I stop thinking about adding more and start thinking about pulling what I have together.” This seems wise, in terms…always seems as though that blending tends to lead to new writing, too, so there’s that possibility.

      1. scratch the “in terms” part…I went a different direction for the second part of that sentenct than I’d originally intended and clearly I haven’t had enough coffee yet to realize it. sigh.

      2. Yes, I’m sure there will be some new writing. Which is probably needed, actually. What isn’t needed is a whole new tangent and that’s what trying to sit down and write new stuff might inspire. I need to stay focused on the key examples and core argument or the chapter will get all flabby. So writing but to fill the gaps and stitch up the pieces. Frankenwriting?

      1. It lives! *cobbled together words shamble off down the road* Oh, no! Come back here! I still have to edit you!

    1. Well, just working on it in general is a big goal, so three out of five days seems like awesomeness. Just sayin’.

  3. I hope the sick kitties get better!

    Last week’s Goal: 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.

    Achieved: As expected, I definitely surpassed the 5 page goal. Probably got somewhere closer to 15 pages, but a lot of that was rearranging previously written bits, though I wrote probably 2-3 new pages to replace material I cut. Also managed to get a partial list of the special collections materials for my summer research trip.

    Analysis: I met with my advisor about my new idea for Chapter 4, and he liked it, at least tentatively. He also gave me a few books to take a look at, and they really kick-started my thinking about how this chapter will really work. In any case, on Wednesday afternoon I started tearing chapter 4 to pieces and now I’m working on rebuilding it with the new argument/approach in place. So far it seems to be working, though I haven’t gotten to the hard part yet.

    Goal for next week: another 10-15 pages of revision. Might be less depending on how much harder the hard part is.

    1. Way to go! The tearing apart and rebuilding can be scary and rejuvenating all at the same time, I find. (I’m dreading the one chapter I have that needs major expansion/revision.) But go at the hard part with gusto. Worst case–your revision will bomb and you’ll have to re-do the hard part, but you’ll have a better idea of what will work and what won’t work.

      1. Yeah, it’s terrifying until you get into it and get distracted by the nitty-gritty of actually having all these pieces that need to go in new places and have connecting bits and . . . So, yes. I’m hitting it hard, and if it bombs, I just do it again. And again, and again. My revision process is always lengthy–one article I wrote had 42 numbered drafts before it got published. I’ve definitely taken the idea of “shitty first drafts” to a whole new level, because it’s also shitty second drafts, third drafts, fifteenth drafts… 😉

  4. Sorry for absence last weekend – a road-trip to visit my five-year-old niece meant I was out of internet range for three days. Amazingly, the internet was still there when we returned – the world did not disappear because we weren’t checking on it…

    Last week’s (unstated) goal: research and prepare for post-doc proposal.

    Accomplished: I think I’ve found an area I can propose a project for.

    Analysis: The post-doc areas are slightly outside of my current work, but right in the middle of stuff I’m interested in. It’s just been a bit of a scramble to try and work out what has been done in the area, and where there’s research room… But I think I’ve found something…

    Next week: Write up the 1,000 word proposal by Wednesday, so I can post three copies of everything to the other side of the world… Then shine it up a bit more, before sending to the other uni in the Centre, and keep fingers crossed. Fortunately, there’s a very quick turn-around time between the due date and the interviews, so I can start planning the rest of the year… (I had the HOD asking if I was available for next semester. I don’t know! Not the most useful answer for HoD.)

  5. Last week’s goal: work on conference follow-ups/ancillary tasks related to the P project

    Accomplished: nothing (well, at least not on the P project front; there was a lot of grading, and conferencing, and finishing an annual report, and even a partial day off, which I really, really needed).

    Analysis: it’s an overwhelming time of year any semester, and this has, for some reason, been an especially overwhelming semester. Frankly, I’m mostly relieved that it is almost over (I have a separate summer term immediately following, but there will be a few weeks without classes, and then summer classes will be online), and my head is still above water. I was also happy to see how much in the way of research/writing activity I had to report on my annual report (it doesn’t actually “count,” since my job is officially teaching only, but they give us a place to report it anyway). That’s in large part thanks to participating in this and earlier online writing groups, and reading academic blogs in general, which has helped me get back in touch with the research/writing culture that is not part of my job.

    Goal for next week: work on ancillary tasks related to the P project.

    Goal by mid-May (revised, I think; I’m not sure I ever set a clear one): finish ancillary tasks and the revision of the P article-in-revision. Plan further work on P project if time.

    I’m very sorry to hear of the SH’s death (in the post above), and send my best to the tiny cat, who does not sound like she needs to be any smaller. I would love a fluffy black cat, or in fact any cat, but your description of Glendower’s activities, DH, reminds me all too clearly why I hesitate to introduce a young, active, cat (or, worse for me but better for them, a pair of them) into my very small apartment. The chaos, which is already pretty impressive, would no doubt be exponentially increased (especially since cats are completely capable of moving items larger than a breadbox if said items are precariously piled on top of other even larger items, which is the case in this room; I’m sure Glendower would take one look and think “jungle gym!”). The fairly staid early-teens feline with whom I originally moved in did quite well (I have a nice windowsill — sunny, and with a view), but she, sadly, died of cancer a few years ago, and I’m not sure I’m psychologically or financially up to taking on an older cat. So for the moment, I will enjoy your description of Glendower’s activities, which are probably more enjoyable to read than to experience anyway.

    1. I have ‘adopted’ middle-aged cats for similar reasons – one was 6 (and was incredibly healthy until the week before she died) and the current Madam was 8ish (now 12ish, and again, no vets costs beyond the usual checks and innoculations and flea drops) – the combination of a small untidy house and a position in the middle of town meant I wanted a cat which would enjoy sleeping more than rampaging… It was horrible when the first one died, but I don’t regret having her, or adopting the current specimen! Do keep revisiting the idea – older cats are so much harder to rehome, so they end up stuck in rescue centres, but they have a lot to offer

    2. Good for you for taking part of a day off. Sometimes that’s the thing that helps move the writing forward. As an undergrad I used to swear by going to see a movie in the day or two before a paper was due, and now all this brain research seems to justify the rest the brain needs in order to get to the insight stage.

  6. 1. Last week’s goal: Read 20 pages of a secondary support book (or one article) and write two pages.

    2. None of that. I really didn’t do any work on the chapter. However, I did send the first few pages of it to my PhD supervisor so that she would at least know what direction I’m heading in. I imagine I’ll hear back next week.

    3. Just plugging along with the college crisis that seemed to get even more crisis-y this week. Also trying to keep up with grading and the kids’ 4-H events. That’s about all I can handle.

    4. This week’s goal: Buy plane tix to UK so I can go to my uni and meet with my supervisor at the end of May. Re-read current draft and make notes for changes and next steps.

    1. It seems like a great time to be able to look forward to a trip to your uni. And I found putting together all the materials to take with me on my trip was a fantastic process. I hope you are surprised (in a good way) by the progress you’ve made in the midst of the craziness of life.

  7. Ink, thanks for taking over on the cheerleading this week! I love low goals; congratulations on so much awesomeness, and on having the good sense to keep this week’s goal low, too. Good luck with the grading.

    Janice, it sounds like you’ve done very well, too, and I am so glad to hear that the group has been helpful. I’ve enjoyed running it.

    FeMOMhist, you continue to be an inspiration with your steady progress on multiple fronts. You’ve done more with your sabbatical than most people do, and I have enjoyed reading about it on your blog as well as hear.

    Sapience, terrific progress, and I hope Chapter Four comes to heel. Sometimes the tearing-down and re-building process can be fun—may it be so in this case.

    Kiwimedievalist, glad you’re back! I hope you had a good trip. Good luck with your proposal—we’ll cross our fingers for you.

    Contingent Cassandra, it really is a tough time of term for most people, and this semester seems to have been unusually rough in various cases, so I think you get praise just for keeping your projects in mind and showing up here! I’ll have to post more about Glendower for your delectation. After Basement Cat, I swore “no more kittens,” but even 1 year old seems young enough to be troublesome. Maybe “no more under-threes” is the new mantra. I always have preferred cats to kittens: kittens are cute, but I prefer the finished product.

    GEW, I love it when “get plane ticket” is a legitimate research task (it moves the project forward, right? Right!).

  8. My last goal: same time goals (20 minutes on campus days, 1 hour W, F, Sa). I’m not very happy about having the MMP and the Zoo paper going simultaneously, and I need to decide how to manage this.

    Achieved: Met the goal M, T, W. Thursday was overscheduled and I was just too tired when it was over to do anything. Friday, as you can imagine, went to hell in a handbasket, as did Saturday (though eventually I checked off a set of homeworks). Wednesday was a wonderful, productive hour plus: I outlined the article I want the Zoo paper to become.

    Analysis: Family emergencies sometimes take over for a bit. Yesterday Sir John & I had to collect the Heroine’s body from the open-overnight vet where we’d taken her to stay cool till morning, and deliver her to our regular vet, where in addition for arranging for cremation, the techs do a memorial paw plaque and snip a lock of fur for a keepsake. We’re that sort of sentimental about our cats. And we just wanted to spend the rest of the day quietly together with the other cats. I’m hoping to put in some writing time today before Sir John gets up, but the rest of the day needs to be housework and errand-y stuff. Two more weeks of classes. Two more sets of homework, a quiz, and the batch of papers that I collected Thursday (they’re getting minimal comments, of course). I have a batch of extra meetings and such, and I fear I may have to be on campus all 5 days in the last week (60 miles and at least an hour each way, not to mention the cost of gas and tolls).

    Nonetheless, the Zoo approacheth, so the next week’s goal is 20 minutes on teaching days, 2 hours each on Wednesday and Friday (I will see if I can schedule a writing date with a buddy), and another hour on Saturday. I hope that will get me a presentable conference paper draft.

    1. I’m glad you had a “wonderful, productive hour” in the midst of a week that went haywire. The memories of those hours can be such lasting motivation.

  9. last week’s goal:
    One hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

    Monday and Friday I revised for one hour, Wednesday only 1/2 hour.

    Analysis of what worked or not:

    I credit this group for meeting my goal Monday, because I almost stopped after 40 minutes, but then remembered my goal and realized I had time to work another 20 minutes. I’m glad I met the goal, because I was disappointed in myself for my slow start.

    On Wednesday a slow start and an additonal appointment meant not enough time in morning. Once started, it was hard to focus, especially since it was a troublesome section of the paper.

    In general, I am still plagued by slow starts, though I am glad that I get going faster than I used to.

    Goal for next week:
    I’m not sure what is realistic for the week, so I’ll just say: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday; 1 hour Wednesday

  10. goal: a) paper with MSc student (draft results and discussion sections) b) paper WeirdBugMan wants to see, draft results and note the main discussion points.

    accomplished: nothing. However, two writing-related things happened – I met with my post-doc to talk about revisions on the paper she’s working on, which I am a co-author on (6th out of 7, but still), and I discovered that a book chapter based on a bit of consultancy work for which I helped someone else’s grad student with the analysis (a couple of days of working with the student then quite a few emails/help with writing about the results) has come out, so that’s c.v. points of a sort.

    analysis: I’m still a bit depressed, and wasting energy on feeling guilty about it because life is, generally, fine (compared to the terminal illnesses and deaths of family members furry and human, job losses, miscarriages etc.etc. which seem to be going on all around me in ‘real’ life and on-line life), so what do I have to be depressed about? Stupid brain chemistry. So being back in the full swing of the semester is taking up a lot of my energy (3 weeks of classes, 4 weeks of exams, 2 weeks of meetings still to go before summer for us). Writing is energising, but finding a space for it can feel rather overwhelmingly difficult (I have been trying to get something done all weekend, and achieved a couple of lengthy naps and a brief one actually in front of my computer – I am too old for naps in front of the computer, especially when one is awoken from said nap by the cat (currently 15.5 pounds of cat) deciding that the perfect place to sit is between your shoulderblades, and jumping there – oof!). I need to try and do some writing FIRST, not fit it in around all the other stuff.

    goals/plan: not sure how much I will get chance to actually work on my writing projects this week – there are two coursework deadlines for students meaning many interruptions for me and the arrival of a new grading alplet at the end of the week, and I have an academic visitor Monday and Tuesday (although Visitor is coming to work with me on data analysis that will be turned into a joint paper, so it is writing related). So my goals are small this week – write 500 words worth of actual coherent sentences on the funding idea I came up with from free-writing, and go over the revisions to the R&R we got for the paper with my post-doc (she drafted it, now I get to polish/check/add to it). Anything else will be a bonus.

    1. It sounds frustrating to have things to write and not to have the time or stamina. Your goals for the week seem just the right size given a busy week. I think your writing FIRST is a great idea too. Any idea where you can find a few moments to do that this week? Even 15 minutes of protected writing time might help to lift the overwhelmedness.

  11. So sorry to hear about SH, Dame Eleanor. If I were not allergic to cats, I’d offer to take your black cat, but alas, I cannot. My dogs are part of my life, so I can somewhat understand how you and Sir John feel.

    1. My goal was to write an hour a day.

    2. Accomplished. Hurrah for small goals.

    3. What I learned: Like Ink, I am finding a small goal works better for me. Further, it helps to have a time goal, because I am tearing the original paper into confetti. There is a new mosaic forming (to borrow DEH’s visual) that pleases me much more.

    I have a very demanding new day job. I need to find the balance during the honeymoon before I become entangled in the politics and stress that so many of you detail in your comments.

    It is also important for me to have some time to nurture some of the creative writing ideas that occur to me. I cannot pursue them very far, but I want to take some notes, make some outlines, before returning to the academic articles that need to dominate my time.

    4. Write an hour a day. Why meddle with success?

    Seriously, I have two college-age sons who will be returning home this next weekend, so I have to keep my goals small. They have never been in the new house–or even the new city, so there will be a fair amount of adjustment. Wish me luck!

  12. 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.

    Accomplished: 1) nope, 2) nope, 3) yes, 4) yes.

    Analysis: I just got back from a four day trip to meet with advisors (I’m the west coast, my program is on the east), and I had some amazing meetings with colleagues and advisors. All were encouraging. I’ve got official permission to keep going, to emphasize writing instead of research in my schedule, and to anticipate an October defense date. And I wasn’t horrified at talk about turning the dissertation into a book. (I thought from the beginning that I would be so sick of the dissertation material that I wouldn’t want to think of “what’s next” for many months, if not years, but now that the thesis is coming together, I’m even more excited about my topic and argument.) I even got to meet the editor of one of the anthologies my work will be in, and she was quite encouraging as well.

    I had hoped to do a few more things this week, but coming out of a week of illness and preparing for my first big trip away from the kids too up a lot of the beginning of the week. And I forced myself to just do fun stuff on the long flight home.

    Goals: 1) notes/annotations on the articles I’ve read in the past couple weeks, 2) complete my introduction (add 2-3 key pages at the beginning, fill in some blank paragraphs) and send it off to my writing partner.

    1. that’s great that you’re more excited about the topic and argument now that its coming together! I’m also shooting for an October defense date and my advisors are starting to talk about turning it into a book too. Scary but exciting all at once!

    2. That’s all such good news! Except for the week of illness, of course. Way awesome that you can focus more on writing than research–such a reassurance.

  13. Sorry for checking-in late.

    Goals :continueing to work on my materials and arguments; starting to write a draft; revising my writing schedule

    Achieved: I have nearly finished reading materials, though my arguments need to be polished in various ways. I also started to write a draft, but it is still a draft. What I have not done is making a new writing schedule.

    Analysis: there are only 5 days left till my presentation, so I have been concentrating on preparing for that, and this means that I just work on my presentation and I put off anything I don’t have to do at the moment. There are so many things I must read and analyse, but only 5 days! It is a small, intimate research meeting but I don’t want them to waste their precious time.

    Goals for next week: finishing my presentation and hopefully some developments with it.

  14. AHHH! I forgot to check in. I was away Friday and Saturday and yesterday we were without power. (Still unclear why. It was only raining.)

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

    Accomplished: applied to job. Researched another job.

    Analysis: Do not try to plan a trip, apply to jobs and deal with other life stuff when it’s nearing the end of a semester and students are needy. Not enough time. I have another week and a half of classes and then a week of finals. It’s nutty here.

    New goal: Apply to 2 jobs. (One I’m unsure on, but will need an interview to get more info.) Read one chapter. Anything else is bonus.

  15. And I’m late (again) too, but am finally done with weekend travels to my son’s gymnastics competitions, so I should be OK through the end of the term. So sorry about the cats!

    Goal: reshaping chapter, getting 3 pages written, starting Kalamazoo paper.

    Achieved: I jotted down some notes about chapter restructuring, did not get anything actually written on the chapter, but did start the Kalamazoo paper. Plus did a bunch of admin-related writing (I keep adding that mostly for my own purposes, to remind myself that I am actually getting stuff done–just not always what I WANT to get done. But ebb and flow of different responsibilities goes with the territory, so that’s OK).

    Analysis: April is friggin’ busy! Every time I open my e-mail, I find out about another report or proposal or evaluation I have to do, generally within 48 hours!

    Goals: realistically, the chapter is probably going to have to wait until May for further attention. I have too many end of term responsibilities, plus the Kalamazoo paper. So this week is all about the Kalamazoo paper, which I hope to get drafted.

  16. last week’s goal:
    1/2 hour Monday and Friday; 1 hour


    Nothing Monday or Friday; 1/2 hour

    Wednesday morning.

    I think I fell into making the goal what I

    *should* have been able to do rather than

    what was realistic. I was

    right about being able to put more time

    in on Wednesday, though. I *could* have done more if I got started faster, but I did get other, end-of-semester grading and service tasks done on Monday and Friday

    Goal for next week:
    I still have plenty to do, but fewer things scheduled during work times next week.

    1 hour Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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