So here we are on the last Friday of our spring 2012 writing group (week 13, if you’re counting).  There will be a 15-week summer group at amstr’s site, starting 14 May.

This has been the last teaching week of my semester.  I feel simultaneously that the term went very quickly and took a long time doing it.  I’m feeling snowed under with grading, conference paper, other projects, and bits of Life Admin, and every time I sit down I remember something else I should be doing.

And yet this is what happens at the end: the loose ends somehow do get wrapped up.  Grades get assigned, papers get presented, the flurry of tasks swirls madly for awhile and then settles down.  Let’s think about where we’ve been, before moving on.

What have you achieved in the last thirteen weeks?  What helped you get writing done?  What obstacles did you acknowledge, name, and cope with?  Whether you exceeded, met, or fell short of the goals you set in February, you’ve made some progress.  Recognize and celebrate that forward progress; think about how to capitalize on what you have gained from this spring’s efforts.

Thanks for being here.

20 thoughts on “All good things must come to an end

  1. Thanks for hosting, DEH! It’s been a real pleasure to be part of this writing community!

    What did I do over the last thirteen weeks? Good lord, it was a lot of writing. I finished draft 2 of the dissertation including massive revision of chapters 1, 4, and 5. I wrote a conference paper, wrote applications for internal and external funding (and got it!), and revised my paper for Kalamazoo. The only thing I didn’t do was try and turn chapter 3 into a publication (mostly because my advisors decided I shouldn’t publish too much of the diss if I want to get a book contract quickly, but I doubt I’d have had the time to get that done, too).

    What helped me get writing done: having to show up here every Friday and say what I got done, which in turn made my weekends more productive. There were a few weeks where I did really spotty work until Friday morning, and then kicked it on so I could post something, and managed to keep the momentum going through Monday. It also helped that I’ve been on fellowship, so I haven’t been teaching.

    The best part of this that I’m so close to being done, I can practically taste it. I doubt I would be this close if it wasn’t for this writing group.

  2. Dame Eleanor Hull, I do thank you very very much for your kind hosting this on-line writing group! Yes, it really, really helped me so much.

    What I have achieved are: submitting one text-book chapter, one encyclopaedia project, one presentation, returning proof-reading of a translation project.

    My actual writing done is not really great, but I am at least satisfied with myself of not giving up this writing group. Sometimes I was so tired that I just took a grance at the wonderful discussion going here, only posting my short comment, but I usually really enjoy reading what other people feel and work during this long way of writing. Knowing other participants’ way helped me and encouraged me greatly.

    I am going to join the summer writing group at amstr’s. I am sure that this will be another great challenge for me and another encouraging experience as well.

    Thank you again, Dame and everyone! I do look forward to joining all of you again!

  3. Dame Eleanor, thank you so very much for hosting the writing group. I have found it extremely helpful to have to report on my progress.

    What did I get done? The most important thing I accomplished was to figure out my writing process; next important was to free myself from the old process, which no longer served me well. Those lessons slowed down the writing, but I think that figuring out the process will allow me to write better in the future.

    What helped me get anything accomplished was having to report to this group. Like Sapience, I would realize that I had to get something done before Friday or admit failure; like Matilda, I looked forward to reading everyone else’s comments, even though I didn’t always comment on them.

    This group helped me get through a cross-country move, a new day job, internet outages, and an ailing laptop. It is a miracle that I got anything done at all. I thank you again, Dame Eleanor, and all of you for keeping me honest these past thirteen weeks.

    I am joining Amstr’s group this summer, and look forward to seeing all of you there.

  4. Looking back, I’m surprised to see what I did accomplish because I always had the sense that I was saying Just A Page or Two…but they added up to quite a bit of progress on a variety of projects.

    I echo the gratitude to Dame (not only for hosting the group, which was spectacular, but also for urging us along the way weekly with the quotes! I loved seeing them every day). And I thank all of you for the camaraderie and support. Like the others, it helped to read about colleagues-in-writing-projects weekly. Good luck, everyone, on your future projects!

  5. Thank you Dame Eleanor for hosting the group. I wish I had been a more active participant. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

    This writing group helped me get into the routine of writing and prove to myself that I could do it. Even when I’m tired and my schedule is disrupted and I don’t meet my goals, like this week, I can get a bit done. I no longer think of myself as someone who can’t (or won’t) ever find enough time to write.

    That change probably the most important thing that I accomplished over the last thirteen weeks. Starting a new medication helped a lot. Before that, the accountability of the group meant acknowledging to myself that I wasn’t writing.

  6. Thank you for hosting. The group has been really helpful… it has led to work on Fridays and Saturdays and in odd moments so that I had something to report, when without accountability I would have just let that time slip. I’ve not done everything I hoped to, but I have made progress, and I’ve enjoyed being part of the community. A final four-paragraph report:

    original goals for this group 1) a large grant draft 2) Methods paper 3) MSc paper

    progress1) I have about 1000 words 2) is fully drafted, with figures, and being circulated among co-authors at the moment and 3) I’ve done all the analyses.

    4) I also: wrote a detailed outline for an odds-and-ends paper, finished (all the little garnishes, sigh) and submitted what I’ve called PowerHouseProjectPaper over on my blog, tidied my writing spaces (though you wouldn’t really know that to look at them right now, there are still remnants of that order visible to me), listed all the writing projects that usually float around in my brain, worked with my post-doc on a couple of papers from her PhD and with a visiting post-doc on something that will turn into a neat little paper in a good journal.

    lessons: fighting All The Things and those mental bugs is a pain, but its often possible to tell them to get lost for just half an hour… especially if that half hour is being stolen from what-I-should-do-today as a defiant up-yours at all the annoying things that get in the way of work. This is pretty childish, but it seems to work, so I’ll call it childlike and embrace it!

    Using writing as ‘extra brain RAM’ always works, and writing generates understanding. So why do I keep having to relearn this lesson?

    I need to note and celebrate the unexpected achievements as well as progress against my planned goals. I’m not naturally a very structured person, and sometimes making concrete plans seems to trigger failing to achieve them. But I do do decent work, and I DO get things written around all the teaching/administrivia/people stuff, so I need to recognise that too.

    goals: thank DEH again, and not lose the momentum between now and the new group!

  7. Thank you DEH for hosting and for quotes from people I might not have otherwise been exposed to!

    Writing, writing fiction in particular, and not for work, is very new to me, and this group allowed me to try and understand what this process is. Well, I still thinking I’m trying to understand that, and how to balance that project with work that “must” be done. I really appreciate the encouragement of so many of you to schedule time for myself (that worked, when I did it. I need to do that again), and to just keep going when things took an unexpected negative turn personally this semester. I appreciate having the group, reading what other people go through in their varius types of writings, and of course, I benefit from being obligated to report somewhere. Someone, Ink I believe, had mentioned how teaching is a FT job and everything else is bonus, and every time I got discouraged with what I couldn’t get done, I reminded myself that I do work full time (well at over load with 6 classes. STUPID idea.) and that the writing will still be there, I don’t have to give up if I don’t get to it right this moment.

    My goal for this last week was to apply to a couple jobs. I applied to three, all in the same day, and two of those had more than one position open. Perhaps odds will be in my favor.

    I’m looking foward to exploring how to negotiate the writing I want to do into life things I have to do as I most over to amstr’s summer group!

    1. every time I got discouraged with what I couldn’t get done, I reminded myself that I do work full time (well at over load with 6 classes. STUPID idea.) and that the writing will still be there, I don’t have to give up if I don’t get to it right this moment.

      This is a useful mindset to try to maintain, I think: not “I’m not a writer/scholar/whatever, because I can’t keep up with the pace others with different loads/responsibilities,” but “I’m a writer/scholar/whatever, and am making slow progress because I have to fit my writing/research/whatever into very short/unpredictable bits of time.”

      It’s also worth noting that 6 classes would be 2x to 3x a full load for many people who do write/research as part of their jobs (of course, many of them also carry heavy service/administrative responsibilities, but still. . .).

      Good luck with the job applications!

      1. Thanks! I hope I’ll be writing in the next month or so about job interviews and offers. 🙂
        I had service expertations, but I let them drop a little (and I don’t regret that), just so I could survive! I do think I need to just keep reminding myself that I am a writer (though thinking of myself in these terms is very new!)

  8. First, many thanks, Dame, for hosting; though I have less measurable progress to report than I had hoped, I am definitely more in touch with the projects than I would be if I hadn’t had to think about them in order to report in each week. That may not be much, but it’s something.

    Goal for the writing group: work on P article-in-revision as necessary; make progress on both J and P article-in-progress; be ready for conference presentation of P article-in-progress in late March.

    Achieved: actually, with the goals stated as I have above, I didn’t do too badly. The only completely dropped ball is the J article-in-progress, which is exactly where it was at the beginning of the semester/writing group. The P article-in-progress did better. My ideal would have been to have some sort of real draft of the P article-in-progress before the conference presentation, and have cut it down for the presentation; instead, I wrote a presentable if not stellar conference paper that worked quite well in context, and helped me along in my thinking about what the P article-in-progress needs to be (which has shifted quite a bit, in productive ways, over the course of the semester/writing group, even though I haven’t actually written all that much. Maybe I need to figure out what I’m writing, and how to frame it, before I can write it). And the writing-group period was bracketed by work on the P article-in-revision; I was working on a new draft in response to a provisional acceptance during the first weeks of the writing group, and I’m working on responding to edits on the nearly-final version as we end.

    What has worked/hasn’t: clearly, truly firm, real-word deadlines help; I’ve met (or am about to meet) editors’ deadlines on the P article-in-revision with no real problem, and I produced the conference paper (maybe not quite the conference paper I had originally envisioned, but *a* conference paper) when I had to. This is probably an argument for getting a few more manuscripts out there and circulating by the end of the summer; it also suggests that it’s a good thing that I need to present versions of both the J and P articles-in-progress at fall conferences. What has been much, much harder is getting into any kind of writing rhythm/schedule. Part of the problem was a highly irregular schedule; and a bunch of occupied Saturday mornings; I need to be much more protective of those in the future, since they seem to be my one best opportunity to write, and I need to not go into campus on extra days if I don’t have to (and, since service isn’t part of my job description, I really don’t have to). I’ve also had real trouble getting into anything resembling the get-up-early-to-write rhythm that served me pretty well in the fall. That might be seasonal (dark mornings, which aren’t entirely overcome by my light-based alarm clock); it was definitely also a result of staying up late trying to catch up with things, which was itself a product of some combination of not getting enough prep done before the term started, too many night meetings, and increased transportation time thanks to an ailing car (=using public transport, which works but just plain takes more time, not to mention planning). My schedule is much more flexible for the summer (even though I’m teaching a summer class, it’s online), but I’ll have to think carefully about how I plan my writing time in the fall, especially since I’ll be teaching late into the evening once a week (a new thing for me, but it involves a chance to teach a class I don’t usually get to). For the moment, the best approach I can think of is to guard my Saturday mornings (and other time as possible, though I just said “yes” to a couple other things at church, which isn’t ideal, but follows from a commitment I made two years ago, and lasts for another year — I’m on the governing board, and there’s a certain amount of “other duties as assigned” involved), and make as much progress as possible during the summer (keeping in mind that I also have some pressing household/financial/life maintenance issues to attend to).

    And if trying to get back on a better sleep schedule is one goal for the summer, I should go to bed. Thank you again, Dame, and everyone else; I’ll see many of you over at Amstr’s place next week.

  9. I echo all the thanks to DEH.

    I had an incredibly lofty goal this semester of getting a complete rough draft of the dissertation done. Instead, I got an almost complete chapter draft, a completed intro, theory sections for each chapter, and the stamp of approval from both advisors for my overall plan and my work so far. I’ve also got the intro in complete enough form that it’s making the rounds to my writing partner and advisors (with revisions in between).

    As Contingent Cassandra mentioned, real life, external deadlines really help motivate my work. But I’ve also found talking myself into just a half hour of evening work, or setting a timer for an initial work spurt in the morning can get me moving into a longer productive work time. I keep being reminded again and again that Small Achievable Goals are key.

    This week I flailed around again–I did manage to get my intro to my writing partner by Tues. but I stalled out on the other work, mostly because I didn’t have a clear plan about what I would be writing for the 1000 word goal, and figured out much too late that I probably need to do a little bit more reading.

    I also wasn’t really prepared for May to start. I’m not teaching at the moment, but my kids’ school activities somehow explode in this last month of school. It really takes its toll on my work schedule. I’m going to put a sign up over my desk that says “Do Not Be Discouraged” as a reminder that May will be over before I know it, and that I can still get work done in the meantime.

    I’m looking forward to having as many of you as can join in over at for the summer! If you aren’t planning to join for summer, but might want to join in for fall, check in over there at the end of August, and I’ll direct you to whatever fall permutation of the group there might be.

  10. thank you for being both a gracious and inspirational hostess. I just blogged the six lessons I learned from participating in the group. Only one is a “negative” lesson, which was a lovely surprise!

    1. you can do a lot in a little time.
    2. even an online anonymous writing group can provoke greater accountability
    3. risky ventures sometimes pay off and sometimes don’t
    4. doing the best work you are capable of always pays off
    5. progress is best measured by feeling rather than by quantitative measures
    6. I suck at “finishing”

  11. As everyone else has said, thank you for hosting. It is much appreciated.

    It’s been a challenging period for me, mostly due to personal health issues but also somewhat due to schedule issues/overcommitment, but this group has given me a reason to think about my writing even when I didn’t feel able to write, and even when I didn’t check in or comment here.

    Last week I had hoped to write, but instead spent the non-grading portion of the week with book proofs (didn’t know they were coming back to me so soon). The good news is that those are proofs of the book that I turned in during one of the earlier weeks of this writing group. It’s nice to see it all come full circle. I also did manage to draft a survey last week. AND the book proposal that I submitted recently looks likely to be accepted. I’ve done some other writing in the midst, not sure what, but I can feel that even when I think I’ve not been productive on a daily or weekly basis I really have.

    Nothing about the last several weeks has been typical for me, so it’s hard to talk about real changes or progress that I’ve made. If anything, the lesson learned is to just keep moving forward. And that I am.

    Hoping for a productive summer.

  12. I am so glad to hear that this group has been helpful, and to see how much progress we have, collectively, made. I feel like I’ve done a lot of wheel-spinning, but as with the rest of you, it has helped to have the group (both to be accountable and to set a good example!), and I’ve done more than I feel like I have: made progress with the MMP, though I’m still not done; cut down a draft chapter into a conference paper; written 1500 words of my K’zoo paper and written an outline for the article I hope it will become (though the outline is going to have to change, at least it exists and gives me something to work with).

    I still am laptop-less, and I am realizing how much I get done with the laptop in little bits of time! I never thought that added up to much, but seriously, if I can check my e-mail at home in the morning, I can spend the commute time working out what to do about various fires (or if they can be left to other people, even better); if I do other noodling around on the internet at home in between other tasks, then it’s out of the way and I can use my at-work time more efficiently. So I’m hoping to get my grading done and then go computer-shopping.

    It has been a good spring, and I’d be happy to run another writing group at some point. In the meantime, I’ll see you over at amstr’s. If you’re a medievalist, I may see you IRL at the Zoo this weekend. Be well, my friends.

  13. My first time missing the Sunday deadline! I’m happy to say that we were camping this weekend for my son’s birthday. We were at the beach, the weather was lovely, and fun was had by all.

    Well, I wanted to get 20-25 pages of a chapter draft completed, and I did that! (We won’t consider the fact that it’s the same goal I had for last November, which I did not do.)

    Mostly, it’s so nice to check in and see the progress and thoughts of everyone else. I’m at a CC where not too many people are doing research, and I’m thousands of miles from my PhD institution, so these groups are wonderful because they keep me connected to a group of writers.

    Thanks to all of you, especially Dame Eleanor who has been such a dedicated, gracious host.

    See you at Amstr’s place this summer! And congrats on all of your accomplishments.

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