Updated to add: Because it’s a holiday weekend in the US, you can have till tonight to check in (not sure what’s happening with our Kiwis—do you get a holiday, too?), but after this, you have to check in by Sunday at 6:00 p.m. U. S. Central time.  I teach MWF at an hour that requires me to get up at oh-dark-thirty, so I will normally need to get the next week’s goals sorted out before I go to bed on Sunday.  And I will close comments at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday just to make it clear that I mean it.  Nine people who indicated interest have yet to check in at noon on Monday 09.03, and we have probably about as many folks who have joined us here without any previous notice.  Welcome—but because it’s a big group, please check in on time even if you have to report “no progress.”  Let me know if you’ll miss a week.  Otherwise, you’re likely to get dropped./add

We have 43 participants this time, if I’ve counted correctly.  Some of you have already mentioned goals, but just to be official and keep everything in one place, let’s all post one main goal for the 15-week (plus “finals” week) group.  If you have other deadlines or ongoing projects coming up (as do I), add those as well, but make clear what is the One Big Thing that you plan to accomplish in the coming weeks.

Here are the ground rules, which will be familiar to those of you who were in the Spring 2012 Writing Group (if you weren’t, you might want to have a look at some of those posts, just for fun; scroll way down to find the list of tags for my blog):

  1. Post every week, even if you haven’t achieved anything.  We’ve all had bad weeks.  Face it, forgive yourself, move on.  The group will help you deal with it.
  2. This week, please post your 15-Week Goal in your first paragraph and a specific goal for next week in a second paragraph.  If you have any other comments or questions, put them in another paragraph.
  3. Next week and in all subsequent weeks, please use the following four-paragraph format: 1. Last week’s goal. 2. What was achieved toward that goal. 3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong. 4. Goal for the next week.
  4. Feel free to comment on each other’s posts.

I will post my goals in the comments like everyone else.

Here’s the list of participants as of this afternoon:

Another Postdoc
Comrade PhysioProf
Contingent Cassandra
Dame Eleanor Hull
Dr. Virago
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
highly eccentric
Notorious Ph.D.
rented life
Trapped in Canadia
Undine (Not of General Interest)
Way To Go Homesteader
What Now?
Z (Mictlantecuhtli/Profacero)

Lately, drawing on Virginia Valian (summer writing-group participants from amstr’s Writing Account will remember this), it has been very helpful for me to remember that I have a responsibility to the work itself, the writing, reading, and research that are not only what I love but also part of what I am paid to do and, above all, what I feel called to do.  Something I love can be a responsibility and not just an indulgence that should be put aside to serve others (students, administrators, whoever).  This thought has helped me stick with the writing in this first busy, distracting week of classes when lots of other people have needs.  If it helps you, too, great.  If not, let’s figure out what your motivation will be.

Welcome, or welcome back.  I wish you happy writing and a productive, sane semester.

108 thoughts on “Sept-Dec 2012 Writing Group, Week 1 Check-In

  1. My main goal for this writing group is to write two chapters of my dissertation. As I said in the Getting to know you post, I also have two conference papers this semester – one to revise and one to write entirely – a book chapter that needs to be finished asap (but that I’m considering scrapping entirely because it is very tangential to my work and a major time drain), and a book review that needs to be written asap. This is a lot because I’m teaching four classes, all of which are my first attempts and so require a lot of prep time, but I’m hoping to get on a schedule early and stick to it.

    My goal for this week is to revise the first conference paper and get it out of the way. I wish I could take advantage of the long weekend, but I have to work at my second job all weekend and just won’t have the time. That’s the price of paying bills!

    At this point, my motivation is no longer that I love my research and my topic. I used to, but, going on five years in, I’m tired of it to be honest. Does this just happen to me? I’m tired, in general, of my dissertation. Now I’m just trying to push myself across the finish line to defend and (please!) find a job or a post-doc. I keep getting told the best dissertation is a finished dissertation, but 1) I’m not used to working under that assumption and 2) I’ve spend so much time on the thing that I want it to be amazing. It’s helped that I took this summer off and now feel much more refreshed, so I’m hoping that feeling sticks with me throughout the semester.

    1. I think it is, indeed, normal to be tired of one’s dissertation five years in, while also feeling that, since you’ve spent so much time on it, it should be good. I certainly felt that way, and it undoubtedly slowed the process down (without making the diss all that much better, and mine is definitely not amazing, just done, and not downright embarrassing). It may help to remember that you will probably have a chance to revise all or part of it at least once more, as you turn it into articles (if you haven’t already), and/or a book. And if the idea of working on it more for a book sounds deadly, keep in mind that your first book doesn’t have to be a revised version of your diss. (in fact, with dissertations available digitally, it’s probably getting harder to sell that idea to a publisher).

      So, yes, a done dissertation is a good dissertation — not that knowing that makes the process any easier.

      And if you can jettison anything that’s taking time away from the diss (and not bringing in income) without damage to your professional reputation, I’d do it. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate for the fall.

    2. That is a lot, especially if you have a second job on top of the four classes. Focus on what is the most important. It may actually be a good thing to be tired of your dissertation: that can be a sign that you really do know enough and can just write it up and move on. It is worthwhile to write a diss that will be easily “bookable,” but many people don’t do that (I didn’t) & still go on to lead happy and productive lives. So if the choice is taking more time now to work on something you’re feeling tired of, or just finishing it off and getting on with things, and you have this high courseload plus a second job (that is, you’re not in a position to stay in grad school in semi-comfort until you have a book manuscript drafted), then it may be time to scrap everything but the diss and just power through.

  2. I have a lot of little writing projects to do in this fifteen-week stretch, some of which may turn into big writing projects. I just finished the dissertation (turned the whole thing in to my committee yesterday in preparation for the defense), so I’m trying to figure out where I go from here. So, in order of priority: job market materials and applications, review article, and two short articles (one of which may turn into a big article). The first two things must get done during this fifteen-week stretch, the last two would be nice but could theoretically wait. The hardest part, however, will be figuring out how to stop fiddling with the job market materials and work on the harder things.

    Specific goal for next week: Finish revising my letter for writing program jobs, and start the reading for the review article.

    1. Congratulations, indeed! I like the idea of working on the review article concurrently with the job market materials. Although parts of those will be substantive takes on your research, a lot of that work is basically clerical, and is, indeed, worth only so much of your time.

  3. My main goal for this writing group is to revise four chapters of my book manuscript. Two of those chapters need significant revision. I also have a paper to revise and submit and a digital humanities project to finish.

    My goal for this week is to write the AB section of chapter one.

    It’s going to be a tough semester. My teaching load isn’t the problem — three classes/two preps, all classes I have taught before. I am supervising several theses this year including three from the previous year. I also have two professional service commitments that are taking a chunk of time right now. But I’m two weeks into the fall semester and I’m keeping up with my writing goals. I credit the Virginia Valian essay that Dame Eleanor mentioned for that consistency. That’s my other goal this semester, to remember my responsibility to the work itself. The book project, the other writing and research projects are also part of my contract with the university, along with the teaching and the service.

    1. I’d be interested to hear more about your work on the DH project, since, as I mentioned below, I’m starting one of my own. I’m especially trying to figure out where work on it fits into my daily work/energy rhythms: it doesn’t quite seem to fit the “writing” slot, and, although there’s definitely plenty of thought about overall goals and how to achieve them involved, there’s also some fairly mechanical/clerical work, which perhaps would fit better into the times of day when I usually do things like answer student emails and grade online discussion posts (not that I don’t have plenty of those to deal with).

  4. I have promised to write an essay for one of those Oxford handbook thingies. I have a general idea about what I want to do, but I need to focus, and do some research, and then actually, you know, write. That’s the big picture goal.

    To get there, though, I first need to clear the decks. So for this week my goal is deck clearing: one manuscript proposal to review, a book review to finish, and a set of revisions for another article. Given the luxury of a long weekend, I think this is do-able. I have Tuesdays and Fridays free from teaching, so I more or less have four days to get this done. Maybe next Friday I’ll look at what I’ve promised and set a plan of research!

    1. Academics: long weekends are for getting work done! It feels so good when the decks actually get cleared, though. I hope they’re properly holystoned by next Friday.

  5. I still need to post an introduction, but I think I’ll go back and do that in the next day or two. For now, here are my goals:

    Goal(s) for the 15 weeks: finish J article (to ready or near-ready to submit condition; it’s currently missing parts of the intro and conclusion, and is fairly rough in between. Oh, and it has no citations to the secondary literature, though I have ideas/notes); Continue P project, including: prepare and give short conference presentation (this isn’t a full-fledged paper, but a 5-minute or so roundtable contribution, with handouts), begin creating webpage; plan/schedule additional P sub-projects (which include at least one article, a reprint edition, and a monograph — yes, this is a long-term project). I also plan to continue freelance work — some reference-work writing I started over the summer, and which pays well enough for it to feel worthwhile, but which I’m trying to figure out how to balance with the unpaid scholarly work (which isn’t necessary for my job, either).

    Goal for next week: finishing teaching prep (the semester has started, but I’m still creating some assignments, etc., for a new class), finish the current freelance piece.

    I’m not really sure how I’m going to juggle all of the above, or even whether I should keep going on the J article right now, or switch immediately to the P project, on which I need to present in mid-October (which I know will come much faster than I expect). I’d also like to have something up on the website by then. I’m also dithering over whether to consider website creation “writing.” It’s definitely a major academic project, and one I believe will form a useful part of my academic portfolio (and which I may submit to peer review; there is an organization which does that for Digital Humanities projects in my place/time period of study). But it’s a different sort of project, and I’m also committed to continuing to write and publish in more traditional venues, and I’m not sure whether I should use the same time slot to do both (though I’m not sure there’s really any other time slot available for academic projects). It may be that I will sometimes do the freelance writing in the “writing” slot, and try to find some other time for the website project. I will continue to mull that over this week.

    1. You’re another person who has a lot of projects to juggle, and it will feel great when they’re all done, but it can be distracting to have to think about them all at once. Is there anything that you can “put on the list” to do later?

  6. My One Big Thing: rework article for submission. Smaller goals: this week I MUST send a particular overdue email related to this article; shyness is holding me back. For this week, I would like to read over the article as it is and the more recent writing I’ve done toward reworking it. I’d like to read and take notes on at least two relevant articles, and do some free writing as to how to approach the changes that need to be made.

    I also have a phone interview this coming week, so that is going to siphon off some energy. I also need to spend some time over the weekend doing some creative work (in an earlier life I was a poet and I’m trying to get some of that back — it just goes with history for me, and it’s hard for me to make progress on one if the other isn’t underway in some form). There is a second article that I would like to rework, and I would like to reread an important book chapter to help me reframe that. But that’s a back-burner, just get a bit done at a time project, and it’s too easy to let it distract me from The One Big Thing.

    1. Oh, I should add that this semester I am hoping to start on a digital humanities project with another scholar, and just finalized a trip to a THATCamp in September (in Philadelphia) for us to talk face to face and learn some stuff together. But we don’t expect to get really started on that until considerably later in the semester.

  7. Don’t be mad, but I can’t conform to your special multi-paragraph format; it is too confining of my snowflake intellect. Hahahah. Actually, I am too lazy and lack the attention span to follow the rules.

    My goal is to complete and submit a new R01 application to NIH for the October 5 due date. My goal for next week is to write the Specific Aims page.

  8. Main goal: finish two partially drafted chapters of the book manuscript. I have to write a couple of conference papers, too, but they are short and draw on some previously drafted work.

    This week: deck clearing, including the last few paragraphs of a chapter; polishing (references) for a piece that’s due, and looking at the overall picture.

    Thanks for hosting this, Dame Eleanor. I’m writing these in a notebook, too, to help keep myself accountable, and this writing group will help.

  9. Thanks again for hosting, Dame Eleanor. I’ll keep my check-in this time brief, because if I try to get it “just right,” I’ll never get it done. So:

    My overall goal: transform a conference paper I gave last January into an article MS (approx. 8,000 words).

    My goal for this next week: figure out what the article is going to be about, and nail down my central question and (perhaps) the subsidiary questions it will break down into. See, I have about three possible directions I could take it in, which sounds good, except that the reason I haven’t picked one yet is that none of them seems particularly compelling. I have one that seems too complex (save it for the book), and one that seems too “duh.” I need to figure out what the main one in the middle is.

    The sad thing is that the topic is inherently interesting on its own — it’s about pirates, ferthaluvagod! But as I tell my undergraduates: A research topic is not a research question.

    1. But as I tell my undergraduates: A research topic is not a research question.

      This is very true. But sometimes (frequently in my lab), you don’t know what the research question is until the project is nearly done.

    2. Can you work backwards? That is, it would be nice if the article somehow heralded the book without trying to be a miniature version of it; so how could you aim the article so that it concludes that the book is needed?

      But since you’re a historian and I’m not, I’m probably talking through my hat here. Maybe if you argue me down, you can figure out what the article really should do.

      1. Notorious, I think DH is right. I think you can signal a more complex argument in an article. And a riff on CPP, maybe think about what the big question is? I tell my students there’s usually a metaquestion (“what is truth”) and a detailed way you take that on (what is true in 13th C Blargistan).

    3. Thanks, everyone — I have decided to go for the more complex one, but figure that this is a trial run for the book idea. I’ve already made a lot of progress on the “laying the groundwork” thing, so hooray for small, achievable goals!

  10. My One Big Thing is to finish a journal article that has turned out to be harder than expected. I’ve got other writing deadlines over this time period but this is the one that is likely to slip into the netherworld of almost but not quite done. The other projects are co-authored and bubbling along nicely but I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this one, and I’m on my own. I need the accountability to keep going.

    In the next week I will complete the conference paper that is the first step towards the final paper. The front part is done but I have to finish the analysis and figure out a way of presenting findings that is coherent and engaging.

    1. How I hate that netherworld, which is so eager to suck me and my projects into it! I too will be working on a tricky journal article, so here’s to us toasting each other’s success by December!

      1. I’ve had a few projects languish there. I’ve felt quite embarrassed by both the number of paper stewing there, particularly as some are so close to done.

        So yes, let’s lift a glass in December.

  11. I’m late to the party, but could I still join, please?

    Short intro: junior academic in Europe (tt-equivalent for US readers), in applied ICT field. Goal for the next few years: expand my funding support from national and EU sources to develop my research group. In terms of writing this requires a constant output of grant proposals and papers.

    Main goal for this group: two sole-PI grant proposals. Large proposal (P1) due mid-October, small proposal (P2) due mid-December.
    Plus various papers/ revisions etc. on the side that have a more flexible schedule and also depend on students and co-authors, so I won’t count those specifically as my goals, although it would be great to clean up some of these bits by the end of the year and get them submitted asap.

    Goal for next week: I have a general idea of what I want to write about for P1, but I need to plan the concrete outline of planned work, list specific research tasks and think how they would fit with staffing, so that I can contact research office for preliminary budget and start writing. Also to do: download and read submission instructions and prepare a template for the proposal.

  12. 15-week goal: turn in conference paper into a ready-to-submit article

    goal for next week: decide on which conference paper to tackle first; I have two potential candidates, but for now only have time to work on one.

    It’ll be my first article (ever!)–I just defended, and start a 2-year VAP this coming week. I’m not really sure how to decided between the two papers. One gets to the heart of my dissertation, which some suggest is not a good idea for a first paper? The other is only tangentially related, and I fear that not knowing quite as much about the topic as I do about Actual Topic would make for a worse paper.

    Besides making a decision about what to write, I expect to be fairly busy this week with teaching–I’m teaching a 3-2, with all new preps. Wish me luck!

    Best of luck to all of you, and many thanks to you, Dame Eleonar Hull, for hosting us here!

    1. Congrats! If you haven’t published before and you haven’t looked at Wendy Belcher’s _Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks_, it is a very handy starting point.

  13. 15 week goal- (1) Full draft of my first comprehensive, and (2) full draft of an opinion paper I would like to write.

    Goals for next week- (1) Outline a tentative draft of my comprehensive, and (2) map out the main ideas for my paper

    I am in a bit of a difficult situation with my comprehensive. Ideally, I would like to have a complete draft finished by this semester, but I am still awaiting a meeting with my full committee to finalize the content/format/timeline. My advisor and I have discussed a potential first comprehensive (which will be a lot like my first chapter), so I figure if I start working with that direction in mind, I will at worst, have an outline for my first chapter.

    I have cut down on my workload this year, and will be working 5 hours a week doing RA work, and 10 TA work. This means that the majority of my time can be devoted to my comp, scholarship work (perhaps the completion of my national scholarship application should be a goal too!), and outside paper.

  14. My 15 week goal is to write the short article (2500 words) I was invited to do for a special topics issue of a journal in my field and to revise the double book review that I was asked to turn into a review essay. (See, this is what I meant by all the invited publications I’ve been doing lately instead of peer-reviewed ones.)

    My goal for next week is simply to get *something* done on one of those two projects. I’ve got this other professional/writing obligations — going over the proofs of the anthology I’m co-editing — that is going slower than I’d like and getting in the way of getting started on these other things.

    Btw, I’m glad you didn’t get this up until last night, because I didn’t have time yesterday to check in. What’s the rule about time to check-in before we’re considered absent for that week — 24 hours? The weekend?

    1. We’ve been giving people the whole weekend in recent writing-group iterations, so I will stick with that. It would be useful for me if people could check in by Sunday afternoon, though.

      Modest, meetable goals are excellent things. This term could be your deck-clearing time when you finish off the invited stuff, and then figure out what you want to write for your next peer-review submission. I suppose you know by now how your uni counts invitations; mine allows a status of both “refereed” and “invited,” if you’re asked to submit for, say, a special issue on a theme, but still go through a couple of peer-reviewers.

      1. That’s a helpful point about deadlines, DEH. I’ve set up a writing accountability chart for myself that (for no particular reason except that I like it this way) goes from Monday to Sunday. An additional motivation will now be that if I can reach my weekly goals by Friday, I can report in on time AND have a little more fun over the weekends.

  15. I’m joining up late, too, and I hope that’s OK. I need the accountability, big time. Thank you for hosting!

    My 15-week goal is modest but twofold: 1) 10,000 words on a lyric essay that I recently began (and of which I have 800+ words written). This is a new form for me, and I’m very much exploring and seeing where it takes me. No idea how long the finished piece will be, so my goal is to generate the word count and then see where I am with it; 2) a complete draft of a poetic sequence that currently consists of one almost-finished poem and two or three partial drafts.

    For next week: 1) reach 2,000 words on the lyric essay; 2) four sessions on the poems, of at least 30 minutes each.

    1. MS, I’m so glad you’ll be part of this group as well! One of my projects for the fall is to figure out how to write during the school year — something I really haven’t done much of in the five years I’ve been teaching HS, when I’ve mostly written in the summer, and not even that for the last couple of summers — so I’ll look to you for inspiration on that score.

  16. Hello, all

    Main Goal: a conference paper(November) / a journal article based on the paper

    I am presenting a paper at a rather big conference(big, at least for me ) in November and I need to prepare for that. This is the most important project this Sep-Dec term. For thatI am going to revise and expand a topic I presented in July. Also I have to write up a very short article in September based on the research related to the topic. Anyway, it seems that I need to arrange which topic is for which presentation/article.

    Next goal: making a 15 week plan; finishing the main part of the short article

    There are several other short writings I need to do and submit. I know I am poor at working on multiple projects, so I will constantly revise my plan and observe what I have done and what I need to do next. My classes starts on Monday. Good luck for me…

  17. My One Big Thing is to finish my thesis. I’m writing it as papers and there are 4 of them, in various states of completeness. I would really like to defend near the end of this Fall term.
    Since I’m new in a tt job and teaching 2 news courses this term I’m not going to start any new projects until the thesis is done, but I also want to include a minor 15 week goal of getting enough reading and background research done to be in a position to apply for a field grant in February, so I will be adding a reading goal to each week.

    This week’s goal is to take the paper/chapter closest to being done out of the moving boxes where it has been languishing for 3 weeks and read it with fresh eyes, find out what it still needs and get it going again. I’m hoping to practice making estimates of how long I think stuff will take, so for each thing I have to do with the paper I’ll give myself an estimate, and then work that amount of time and see how close I got, sort of a prediction run workout I guess. I’m hoping to get better at time estimates over this term since that has been a very weak area for me.

    1. Having a reading goal and a writing goal makes a lot of sense to me. I always say I can’t write till I’ve read, and it’s interesting to see that that’s not just true in the humanities. Good luck with finishing off the thesis: that will be a lovely thing to celebrate when it’s done.

  18. My 15-week goal is to write a rough version of the first chapter.

    For Week 1, my goal is to do five hours of research (both some time in the archives and some time reading some documents that I have on file). At some point I’ll want to shift to goals that are about specific tasks rather than hours, but since this is a new-ish project and since I’m not used to writing during the school year, I think I need to start with a commitment to do so many hours.

    I also have two more prosaic but still important goals: to get Dropbox talking between my home & school computers (which has not been working lately) so that I can work more easily at school, taking advantage of 45-minute “free” periods here and there. And to work out with my co-author and the project coordinator an initial proposal for what we’ll be paid — all new territory for me! The whole notion of having a co-author, and of getting paid (not much, but still!), and of having multiple interested parties having a say in the project is a whole new world; we’ll see how it works out.

    1. Those practical goals, not-exactly-writing but in-support-of-writing tasks, are important and should not be overlooked. They count as “moving the project forward” or “taking baby steps.” And better a baby step in the right direction than running rapidly in the wrong one.

    2. Good luck with the project. I hope that Dropbox starts cooperating. If not, can you resort to Google Docs for the short term? I’ve found that’s useful for online collaborative work (and, at the end of the day, I save what I’m working onto my own computer in the dropbox folder for extra security).

  19. My main fifteen-week goal is to finish the fifth and final chapter of the book I am working on. In order to get there, I also need to do a bit of ‘deck-clearing’. This week, my smaller fire-fighting goals are to re-draft the companion-to-something article that I have been on the verge of completing for too long, and send off at least two job applications. Le sigh.

    Because I remember this works best when I focus, my book-related goal this week is to re-read the fourth chapter, and try to piece together my notes for the fifth. Maybe I’ll come up with a working plan…

  20. My 15-Week Goal is to complete my own chapter for an edited collection, write a keynote and turn a conference paper into an article. All of these are works-in-progress so I’ll probably spend three weeks on the first task, three weeks on the second and the remainder of our writing group time on the third

    My specific goal for next week is to write 1500 words for my chapter. That will put me past the halfway point in the overall piece. I can visualize exactly what I need to write and how it breaks down. I just need a few hours at a go to sit down and make that happen.

    I have two days a week this term in which I can really focus on writing, plus a bit of time on Mondays. (Wednesdays and Fridays are packed with teaching and meetings: I’m considering those days write-offs for writing.) This feels like a luxury since fall terms I am usually teaching four days a week. Of course, the trade-off is that I have a really awful Wednesday.

    If I haven’t said so already, thank you so much, Dame E, for this group. Between this and another academic coaching exercise that I’m involved in, I have supports to keep me focused and positive in this crazily busy term.

  21. My main goal for this writing group is to prepare for writing a book. To that end, I would like to complete a book proposal and make a working outline for the structure of the book. A more immediate goal is to finish a paper, due next week, for a conference. I will also turn use this conference paper for an edited volume project, so I would like for it to be as close to looking like an article as possible for the conference submission.

    Goal for next week: Read “Getting it Published,” which has sat on my desk taunting me all summer. Print out and read other advice columns for publishing an academic book. Use the information from these sources to construct a “Book Publishing Plan”. Also, complete conference paper for submission. (I have a very detailed plan for this, which I won’t take up space with here)

    Good wishes to everyone for a great start to the semester!

  22. My main goal is to turn a conference paper into a book chapter. This will also require more research, so my word counts will sometimes be note-taking rather than “proper” writing.

    My desk clearing is pretty substantial. Finish drafting a talk I am giving in 3 weeks. Finish reading and commenting on two dissertations for students who are defending (excellent dissertations, I am so proud!). Come up with ideas for a roundtable I’m doing in October (related to September talk). Internal tenure letter and general teaching/advising/service duties. I am determined to carve out two research days per week, and to work less on the weekends so I can recharge and spend time with my family. More discipline during the week should allow me to do this.

    1. “Moving the project forward” always counts as work, even if it isn’t “proper writing.” Are you going to clear decks before tackling the paper-into-chapter, or work on the chapter as you take care of other tasks?

      1. Good question! I’m hoping to work on the chapter as I take care of other tasks. And you are right about the “moving the project forward” bit.

  23. Hello!

    My current project is revising my dissertation into a book manuscript. My goal for this coming 15 weeks is to completely Revise and Beautify chapter 3. Additionally, I will be going on the job market yet again and teaching my usual 4 classes.

    My goal for this week is to clear the deck by finishing up the last bits of revisions/cleaning up citations for chapter 1. That and to work on this project if even only for a little bit every day.

  24. I said this in wrong place so am reposting Sept 1, for Friday Aug 31 checkin: I have actually stuck pretty much to research time despite hurricane and houseguests. I attribute this to very good teaching schedule this term, elimination of harassment at work and my having become more intelligent again. I am not setting writing goals, just research time goals and letting it go from there, and as a result of this, yesterday I started to see a better, far more functional book outline.

    Responsibility to work is a good motivator but also, the idea that my work is good. Earlier in life, it was just work and it was interesting, and I had not gotten the complexes about it that I got later.

    1. Oh, good! There is nothing like that feeling of just having the time to do research and letting the work happen because it is coming naturally. I’m glad the work situation (that is, employment) has improved. I hope the whole term will be like this for you.

      1. 17.5 hours, believe it or not, in 6 blocks! Blocks are supposed to be 2.5 hours and can be shortened or broken in two, but the big thing is continuity … really have the six blocks, ideally on six days although permissibly moved into fewer days.

  25. 15-week goal: Finish the MMP (recalcitrant article). Detour for fellowship application due in October. Find some regular time to work on very-long-term translation project.

    Goal for the week: two hours of research/writing time each day; progress on MMP; do something (anything) on translation work.

    Commentary: I recently discovered something about MS provenance for one of the MSS I’m discussing in the MMP; this is very cool but means that I need to re-outline the essay, yet again, and try to keep some sort of balance among all the pieces that need to be there (or that I’m not willing to eliminate). In some ways it might be better to let it become two essays, but I think the pieces really do belong together, so I need to articulate clearly how and why they matter to each other.

    Advice to all posters: there is a certain temptation, when planning writing/research work, to list All The Things that need to be done or might distract from that work. I get that; I have it, too. This is, however, a writing group, not a getting-things-done or anti-procrastination group. The teaching will happen, the service will happen, at least some of us will be Overcome By Events (OBE [tm Notorious: http://girlscholar.blogspot.com/search?q=overcome+by+events%5D) including teaching, service, and Life Stuff, from time to time, but let’s keep the focus on the writing and on the tangible, deliverable goals, whether we measure those in time, in word count, or in some other way.

    1. Ooh. Process goals! I forgot about those. I guess I have one of those too, which is listed in my “Morning Person Redux” post: I’m trying to get control of my mornings again. So this will be my secret, hidden goal for this week. Thanks for the reminder.

  26. goal for time-till-Christmas: In order of priority to me, a) complete and submit a paper with multiple co-authors which is at the advanced draft stage now, b) complete and submit a substantial second paper from a different project which has only a couple of co-authors – at present it is at the 2-thirds of analysis mostly done, a couple of pages of notes of writing done stage – and c) write and submit a grant application for December 1st. There is a lot of deck-clearing and fire-fighting and backlog-hacking-through writing that needs doing as well, and often this will form the bulk of the goals for a given week, but I will keep these three things in mind as the overall focus.

    goal for next week: semester here doesn’t start for three weeks (don’t be too jealous, we finished 22nd June for summer this year), and this week is Clean The House then Host a Parental Visit week (my first and only full week out of the office this summer). So my goal is to relax and to think about my bigger picture wishes and aims for the coming year…

    The challenges I want to focus on in this iteration of the writing group are how to make productive use of small pockets of time and working out how to set and keep to my own priorities when I have a lot of co-authored proejcts where co-authors have different priorities (and when the department wants things that suit it’s needs, not mine) without feeling guilty about it. A life work, that last one!

    Thank you again for hosting.

  27. Hi all! My 15-week goal is to get into a writing groove during the semester (which I’ve never really done before), and to get 30,000 words written towards a book draft. I’m not really concerned at this point about which chapters get written, or how polished they are; I just want to get writing done.

    To that end, my weekly goals are to do at least 8 hours of writing per week, or 2,000 words, whichever comes first. (I’m hoping if I meet one goal, I’ll be inspired enough to continue towards the other.)

    Thanks to DEH for hosting, to everyone else for encouragement and accompaniment, and good luck to all!

  28. Hello all! Sorry for the late check-in:s.

    Goal between now and Christmas: I have a number of interesting deadlines, but given the variables of work, thesis corrections, health, and study, I’m opting for a process goal this time. Short version is that I want to keep writing. And to keep writing new(ish) medieval academic content. Easier said than done.

    I’ll consider that goal kept to minimum satisfaction if I manage one writing day, and 500+ words per week. I’ll give myself mental gold stars for two or more days days or 1000+ words. I would prefer to limit this goal to article-drafting, but may end up counting thesis revisions as well. Oh, and PhD proposal work definitely counts.

    Intervening deadlines:
    1. I’m about to start part-time study on a CELTA course, which will take up 12 hours of my week plus self-study time for ten weeks (finishing at the end of November)
    2. I promised several people that I’d have one article drafted, polished and out for consideration by December, and a second draft completed
    3. I expect my MPhil thesis back for corrections (minor? major? revise and resubmit? IDEK) some time between the end of October and the end of the year
    4. I wish to have a PhD application, and associated scholarship applications, in this round of considerations (deadlines start in October and end in December, for the 2013 intake).
    5. I need to start planning/writing lectures for next year, in consultation with the relevant course co-ordinator.

    Mitigating factors: I also work two days a week as a proofreader and do some private tutoring. And I have on-again-off-again mental health problems, which is why I’m focusing on the process goal. At this point I feel like training myself into dedicating at least a day per week to academic writing, regardless of what else is going on, is more useful to me than meeting any specific deadlines or end products.

    Goal for next week:
    – Monday, Tuesday and Friday should all be free for ‘writing days’.
    – I hope to finish the ‘ugly draft’ of the current article.

    1. Process goals are just fine, so long as they’re measurable (an hour a day, a day per week, whatever) and you can see how you’re doing. Remember to analyze what goes right and try to repeat/ capitalize on successes.

      1. I mean, I’ll be pretty peeved with myself if I don’t get the actual content out by the end of the year, but the process part is more important to me at this point. If I can set aside time, and also keep my head clear enough that I write things in the time, then content will happen. If I focus too much on the deadlines, I go a bit batty.

  29. 15 week goal: The real goal is to learn to make research and writing progress while teaching. This will be my first semester teaching more than one course, first semester teaching at all in two years, and first time teaching more than 30 students. I expect it to be a time management challenge, but I figure now’s the time to learn. My teaching obligations are certainly not likely to go down over the next several years!

    The 15 week writing goal is to finish and submit the major paper from my thesis. Let’s call it Project Q. A (hopefully small) amount of additional research will be required. A new section must be drafted. Then I need to get a round of feedback and revise, but that will hopefully be fairly painless because the part that’s written has already seen substantial feedback and revision.

    Next week’s goals: First, clear the decks by getting my current project (let’s call it Project RM) to a state in which it can be put on hold. That involves 1) a quick read-through and minor revisions; 2) reviewing past research that has not yet made it into the paper; 3) writing a short summary of that research (approaches tried, not detailed results).

    Second, mentally get back into Project Q. Figure out exactly how much research needs to be done. Ideally, I’d outline how the new section will go.

  30. I missed the get-to-know-you post, so here’s my quick and dirty: I’m an ABD in English, not quite a year into a dissertation. General areas include religion, gender/sexuality, and things premodern.

    As for goals… well, I’m a little afraid of my goals. Which are: {1} Fellowship application materials, including {2} a viable dissertation prospectus and {3} a complete, writing-sampleable draft of Diss Chapter 1. Other term-long goals include {4} transforming a messy draft into an article and {5} transforming the same messy draft into a conference paper. That I can’t state a single Big Thing (or adequately prioritize the above commitments) is both a problem and a basic fact of existence at this stage of the profession.

    My goal for next Friday: 4,000 new words of shitty-first-drafting toward Diss Chapter 1.

    I’m looking forward to this, and to getting to know some of y’all!

    1. Since your first three goals are all subsumable into the fellowship application, let’s call that Thing One. If you just do that, you’ll have had a good semester. I’m very much in favor of setting manageable goals, and building on success. If you must have a secondary goal, then think of 4 and 5 as the same thing, revising a draft into an article, with a stop at conference paper along the way. I strongly recommend planning it as an article and cutting it down into a conference paper, rather than the other way around.

  31. Big goal: Move fiction book project forward and figure out my idenity as a writer. I realize “move foward” is vague but I have a combination of research, reading, writing, etc to do so moving forward is more cohesive than “write X chapters.” And I didn’t “write X chapters” and that didn’t work.
    Smaller goals in this include the reading, writing and research as well as allowing myself to work on smaller writing projects when I get writer’s block with the book or an idea for something else that needs to be committed to paper because the idea simply won’t shut up.

    This week: Continue reading Book S I’ve started for research–hopefully determine if this book is sufficient or if I need additional books in the same topic. (Currently the book leaves me with a lot of questions.) Begin a draft of a smaller writing piece for more immediate web publication.

    1. Having taken a look at where I am in reading Book S, I should be able to finish it. And!! If I need another book in this same research area when I’m done, I just found that my dad has one. Since I’m going there later this week I will take a look at that. (I may not be allowed to borrow it if he’s not finished…think he’ll notice?)

      And the more thinking I do the more I think that moving the project forward to me means having something reasonable for my two readers to read (whom I’ve already identified), to get some plot feedback. Ideally by the beginning of Jan.

    2. A suggestion for Rented Life: if you don’t have specific goals (“finish two chapters,” etc.), how about process goals — like: “write two hours a day, five days a week”? That way, you keep yourself accountable, because there’s something to be accountable to.

  32. OK, I am like CPP in that getting too precise hampers me, but I will try to follow format.

    15-week goal, acceptable: maintain all weekly goals, do not be distracted, moved from this purpose, or discouraged. Ideal: result of maintaining weekly goals should be that I finish at least one of my languishing texts and submit for publication. Along the way I will not failt to do my conference paper and must revise-resubmit fiction; part of my method, but also a sub-goal, is to deal with languishing research related correspondence. Super-ideal performance will be if I submit more than one academic piece somewhere but I am not even mentioning this possibility as I want to set sights low.

    Weekly goals are the same every week, and are the important thing: 17.5 hours of focused, research related work. In my case, organized reading leads to writing, and forced writing leads to unfocused frenzy, so I am using this group as a put-your-research-first group.

    Method, getting the arithmetic right: 7 research sessions per week, 5 mornings and two weekend blocks. Blocks are 2.5 hours and can be split into smaller pieces and moved around. More important than exact amounts of time are having the 7 blocks, not letting them get shunted off or put off. Goal, though, is to stabilize the habit: 7 blocks of ~2.5 hours each, ~17.5 hours.

  33. I am late already. Hence, my need for a writing group! I will post my introduction immediately after writing down my goals.

    My 15-week goal is to completely finish my dissertation. I am defending this semester and need to finish the last chapter, introduction, and conclusion, and then finish edits.

    My goal for this week is to finish the last chapter. It is half written, but I need to finish figuring out my Access data. I also need to edit my introduction, which I have written, but feel that I need to throw over half of it out. Finally, I need to write my conclusion, which is going to be very short. Really, just a matter of sitting down and concentrating on it.

  34. Oh my, late as well. My apologies!

    15-week goal: plan, research and write first draft of new article. I do have edits on a couple of other articles.

    Next week’s goal: Plan the research trip, from the mundane book the hotel and train to the list of what to look at in the various MSS I will be using.

    I needed the reminder that what I love to do can be a responsibility and part of the day job–thank you for that reminder, Dame Eleanor! This semester started at full throttle, and I need to hang onto the handlebars and get the beast under control.

    I’m glad to be back in the group; as many others have said, I needed the accountability!

  35. I will place blame for my tardiness on the almost-overdue book chapter that is still slightly unfinished. I tried to wrap it up before tending to other obligations, but I’m not there yet.

    My 15-week goal will be to finish chapter 2 of the book manuscript, a project that still needs a good nickname. I would say this is a revision of my dissertation, but it’s really a new project that uses my dissertation as a foundation. I had intended to finish the entire manuscript over the summer, and didn’t quite realize the magnitude of the project. I have a bunch of research I need to do, for starters.

    I have two projects to finish this week, but the point is that I need to make time to work on the manuscript along with all of the research projects, teaching, and service. So my goal for this week will be to set a timeline for Chapter 2. I’m excited because I know that without setting this goal, no work will be done on the manuscript.

    Glad to be here with you all.

  36. Hi all! I’m just back from a much needed vacation, and I’m trying to give myself a mental break until Tuesday morning.

    My big goal for the term: finish dissertation (and defend!) though the defense may be as late as January.

    This week’s goals: 1) read for Ch. 2 revise, 2) re-read Ch. 2, 3) freewrite 3×20 min. about revise, 4) make easy revisions of Ch. 3 from writing partner review.

    This Ch. 2 has been a sticky one from the beginning. I’ve never had a firm grasp of what my argument should be. Right now I have a lot of raw material that needs to be put to good use to prove some point that has so far eluded me. This week could be called the “find a point!” week.

    Thanks again for hosting, DEH!

      1. Thanks! It was busy, but good. Definitely a change of pace. And now for getting the kids ready for their first week of school!

  37. Wow, am I late to the party?

    My big goal for the next 15 weeks is to write a solid draft of chapter 5 of my dissertation. By solid draft, I mean 20-25 pages. I’m also supposed to revise an article that was rejected earlier this year (I told my PhD supervisor I’d have that done this fall), but I don’t know if I can do both. And since I much prefer developing a chapter to polishing article, I will declare that my goal is the chapter.

    This week’s goal: Read one chapter or one article and write 500 words.

    Thanks, DEH!

    1. I just realized that I overlooked the “getting to know you” post. So here is the skinny:

      I’m a tenured faculty member at a community college in the U.S., and my college is in the middle of a crisis (of the sort which threatens its existence), which is taking a lot of my attention and drives me crazy. I’m starting what I think is my 14th year at the college.

      I am also a PhD student at a university in the U.K. (I live in the U.S. but visit my university on a regular–but not too frequent–basis for meetings with my superivisors). Because I work so far from my PhD institution, these writing groups are great because they help me feel so much less isolated. I am also married with two awesome kids who are nine and seven.

      In the years to come, I hope to have finished the PhD, be working at the same college (if it survives), doing a lot less service work on campus, and having time for my own academic and creative writing.

  38. I’m so sorry for my tardiness, but if it’s not too late, may I still join, please? I’m an assistant professor trying to make headway on the book manuscript, and really need to sort out a regular writing schedule during the semester. I, too, would love the accountability and company of a writing group.

    I have a couple of projects for this semester, including revising two chapters of the manuscript, but my Big Goal for the next fifteen weeks is to write an entirely new chapter.

    My goal for next week: Write 1000 words and read 4 or 5 articles/book chapters; carve out 2 hours each day for this reading and preliminary writing. Mostly, I’m trying to establish a schedule for working on the book in a systematic and feasible way, but I’m also trying to learn how to demarcate and protect writing time despite the demands of teaching and service.

    Thank you so much for hosting!

  39. Another late one, but I hope it’s okay to just jump in here. I finished my MA in History at the beginning of this year and started a PhD in May. I’m in New Zealand so this will be a PhD by research-only, completed over about four years full time. I’m on a decent scholarship, but I also work about 10 hours a week as a PR/marketing contractor and am doing some teaching/tutoring this semester, too. 

    My goals for the 15 weeks are –
    1. Complete and submit an article I’ve been working on, which is based on part of my MA thesis and a conference paper I gave at Leeds this year (yes, I’m another medievalist).
    2. Complete a solid first draft of my PhD proposal (10,000 words)
    3. Write the first draft of a conference paper that has been accepted for a February conference (this will be coming out of work I’m doing for my proposal)

    Goals for this week –
    Article – print out the current draft and review it to make sure all my tinkering over the last few weeks hasn’t totally destroyed the central argument
    Proposal – settle on an outline for the overall structure, review my main bodies of secondary lit and sketch out the historigraphical framework

    Thanks so much for hosting this, Dame Eleanor. I think it will be a huge help!

  40. I’m late checking in here too….just got back from a wedding in the mountains.

    My goals for the semester are:
    1. Finalize and submit the P&P paper I presented this summer.
    2. Turn my LM paper into my HM presentation in Oct.
    3. Complete a solid first draft of the TS paper I worked on this summer.
    4. Complete the analysis and write up the findings for my BE paper.

    My goals for this week are:
    1. Reread the P&P paper
    2. Read and take notes for the TS paper
    3. Complete an outline for the HM presentation from the LM paper

    Thanks for hosting!

  41. May I join, super late? I need some external influences, having lost all my structure this summer. I just graduated with a PhD in medieval stuff, and now need to get publishing and find a job. I’ll have lots of little job-related stuff to do this year (goal: two job apps/week) but my big goal for this semester is one publishable article, based on thesis.

    This week’s goal: Figure out the argument of the article. Topic is set, but I need to have an overarching point, not just give narrative and analysis of little bits.

    1. Sounds good! I’m also trying to write an article based on the diss, and I agree that figuring out the argument is a worthy first week’s goal!

  42. Thanks for the hosting again!

    Overall goals: I am going to work on a super-scrunched 6-week schedule in case the baby arrives early. Goals for Oct 15th are: 1. Three grant proposals: one in LOI form, one simple one in draft form, and one full proposal. 2. One article fully drafted. 3. Data collected for two main studies plus 3 minor ones.

    Next week’s goals: By Sept 15th, data analysis done on two studies; final decisions made on what goes into which grant proposals and 6-week plan made; MC5 scales sent to RA for translation. Plus non-negotiable committee etc. work.

    1. … I am extremely disappointed to find that LOI is not a typo for LOL. I was envisioning you writing grant proposals LEIK DIS, FOR GRATE KNOWLEDGE

  43. Would it still be possible to join at this late stage?

    I do some academic writing as an independent scholar while my career is in another line of work. It would be very helpful to be part of this writing group, particularly at the moment, as I am coming to the end of a major writing project and I would like to keep on writing.

    My overall goal would be to prepare a short edition of a medieval text by the end of the 15 weeks, in a form that I could submit to a journal.

    My first week goal, though, would be to finish a few introductory paragraphs for a short extract from a medieval chronicle. I would like to complete that this week if possible.

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