This post is scheduled to appear at noon on Friday (US Central Time).  Please check in by 6:00 p.m. (again, US Central) on Sunday.  Comments will close at that time.  Anyone who is MIA for the second week in a row will be dropped from future lists of participants.  If you know you will miss a week, let me know in advance and I will try to keep track of you (though given the way things are going around here, I can’t swear I won’t forget that you told me).

How did your week go?  Whether your goals were process or product, how did you do?  What worked?  What didn’t?  What are you going to try next?

Please use the four-paragraph format (last goal, accomplished, next goal, commentary), and keep your goals specific and succinct.  Save commentary for the last paragraph, even go to five or six if you want, but look at the length of the roll here and make it easy for your hostess to find your next goal.
Roll call:

alloverthemap: Main goal: finish Project Q; last week’s goal: get Project RM to on-hold state.
Amstr: Main goal: finish dissertation; last week’s goal: 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.
Another Postdoc: Main goal: complete a book proposal and make a working outline; last week’s goal: read advice books/columns, construct “Book Publishing Plan,” complete conference paper for submission.
Bavardess: Main goal: finish article, finish draft of PhD proposal; last week’s goal: print and review current article draft, outline proposal.
cly: Main goal: finish fifth chapter of book; last week’s goal: re-draft companion-to-something article and submit two job applications.
Comrade PhysioProf: Main goal: complete and submit a new R01 application to NIH for the October 5 due date; last week’s goal: write the Specific Aims page.
Contingent Cassandra: Main goal: finish J article; continue P project; plan/schedule additional P sub-projects; continue freelance work; last week’s goal: finish teaching prep, finish the current freelance piece.
Coree: MIA
Daisy: Main goal: finish my thesis; last week’s goal: read draft of one paper and decide how to approach revisions.
Dame Eleanor Hull: Main goal: Finish and submit MMP; last week’s goal: 2 hours research/writing per day, progress on MMP and translation.
Dr. Virago: Main goal: write 2500-word article and revise double book review into a review essay; last week’s goal: get *something* done on one of those two projects.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell: Main goal: plan, research and write first draft of new article; last week’s goal: plan the research trip.
emmawriting: Main goal:  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; last week’s goal: 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. [Does this mean you won’t be checking in again until the 15th?]
Erika: MIA
Erinys: Main goal: publishable article; last week’s goal: Figure out the argument of the article.
GEW: Main goal: write 20-25 pages of chapter 5 of my dissertation; last week’s goal: Read one chapter or one article and write 500 words.
highly eccentric: Main goal: keep writing new(ish) medieval academic content; last week’s goal: write M, T, F, finish “ugly draft” of current article.
historisusan: Main goal: write an essay for one of those Oxford handbook thingies; last week’s goal: one manuscript proposal to review, a book review to finish, and a set of revisions for another article.
humming42: Main goal: finish chapter 2 of the book manuscript; last week’s goal:  set a timeline for Chapter 2.
JaneB: Main goal: a) complete and submit a paper with multiple co-authors, b) complete and submit a substantial second paper from a different project, and c) write and submit a grant application for December 1st; last week’s goal: think about my bigger picture wishes and aims for the coming year.
Jason: MIA
JLiedl: Main goal: complete my own chapter for an edited collection, write a keynote and turn a conference paper into an article; last week’s goal: write 1500 words for my chapter.
jmmcswee: Main goal: (1) Full draft of my first comprehensive, and (2) full draft of an opinion paper I would like to write; last week’s goal: (1) Outline a tentative draft of my comprehensive, and (2) map out the main ideas for my paper.
John Spence: Main goal: prepare a short edition of a medieval text; last week’s goal: finish a few introductory paragraphs for a short extract from a medieval chronicle.
Kirstin: MIA
kiwi2: MIA
kiwimedievalist: MIA
Kris: Main goal: finish a journal article; last week’s goal: complete the conference paper that is the first step towards the final paper.
luolin88: MIA
Matilda: Main goal: conference paper (November) / a journal article based on the paper; last week’s goal: make a 15 week plan and finish the main part of the short article.
meansomething: Main goal: 1) 10,000 words on a lyric essay; 2) a complete draft of a poetic sequence; last week’s goal:  1) reach 2,000 words on the lyric essay; 2) four sessions on the poems, of at least 30 minutes each.
Metheist: Main goal: finish my dissertation; last week’s goal: finish the last chapter.
Moria: Main goal: fellowship application; last week’s goal: 4000 new words.
Notorious Ph.D.: Main goal: transform a conference paper I gave last January into an article MS; last week’s goal: figure out what the article is going to be about.
nwgirl: Main goal: revise four chapters of my book manuscript; last week’s goal: write the AB section of chapter one.
Pika: Main goal: Large proposal (P1) due mid-October, small proposal (P2) due mid-December; last week’s goal: concrete outline of planned work, list specific research tasks and how they fit with staffing, download and read submission instructions and prepare a template for the proposal.
Pilgrim/Heretic: Main goal: 30,000 words written towards a book draft; last week’s goal: at least 8 hours of writing per week, or 2,000 words, whichever comes first.
Premodern: Main goal: new book chapter; last week’s goal: Write 1000 words and read 4 or 5 articles/book chapters; carve out 2 hours each day for this reading and preliminary writing.
rented life: Main goal: Move fiction book project forward and figure out my idenity as a writer; last week’s goal: Continue reading Book S for research; Begin a draft of a smaller writing piece.
Salimata: Main goal: turn conference paper into a ready-to-submit article; last week’s goal: decide which conference paper to use.
Sapience: Main goal: job market materials and applications, review article; last week’s goal: Finish revising my letter for writing program jobs, and start the reading for the review article.
Sisyphus: Main goal: Revise and Beautify chapter 3 of diss as book chapter; last week’s goal: revisions/cleaning up citations for chapter 1, and work a bit every day.
sophylou: Main goal: rework article for submission; last week’s goal: send e-mail, read over the article and revision notes, take notes on at least two relevant articles, do some free writing.
Susan: MIA
tracynicholrose: Main goal: 1. Finalize and submit P&P paper; 2. Turn LM paper into HM presentation; 3. Complete first draft of TS paper; 4. Complete analysis and write up findings for BE paper; last week’s goal: 1. Reread P&P paper; 2. Read and take notes for TS paper; 3. Complete outline for HM presentation.
Trapped in Canadia: Main goal: write two chapters of my dissertation; last week’s goal: revise the first conference paper.
Undine (Not of General Interest): Main goal: finish two chapters of the book manuscript; last week’s goal: finish a chapter, polish (references) for a piece that’s due, look at the overall picture.
Way To Go Homesteader: MIA
What Now?: Main goal: draft first chapter; last week’s goal: five hours of research.
Widgeon: Main goal: turn a conference paper into a book chapter; last week’s goal: two research days per week? (Sorry: DEH wasn’t sure what the deliverable for this past week was.)
Z (Mictlantecuhtli/Profacero): Main goal: Keep to semester’s research schedule; last week’s goal: stick to weekly research time goals, 17.5 hours in 6 blocks.

173 thoughts on “Sept-Dec 2012 Writing Group Week 2 Check-In

  1. Main goal: transform a conference paper I gave last January into an article MS; last week’s goal: figure out what the article is going to be about.

    accomplished: Yes! I decided to go for the slightly more complex article. I divided my article up into its major tentative subsections and drew up a preliminary bibliography for each.

    next goal: I’ve already gotten a little start on this one, but by the end of week 2 I’d like to have read/skimmed the three “classic” works on the Big Question and have written a 400-word synopsis, to set me up for moving into the more specific historiography. I also need to order up those books and articles so they’re teed up and ready to go.

    commentary: I was helped a lot this week by finding some notes I took about this article idea back two months ago when I was feeling all inspired. I had forgotten about these ideas I had then, but when I saw them, I saw that they were 80% good, and certainly made a fine jumping-off place. Lesson: when a project is new, the ideas flit around and don’t necessarily stick because you haven’t committed to any of them yet, so WRITE EVERY IDEA DOWN.

    1. and have a place to put them!

      I came across about eight pages of reasonably coherent critique of key works for the paper I’m writing … and I couldn’t every remember reading the works in the first place.

      This made me happy but also a little embarrassed at my lack of organisation.

      1. I am so glad I am not the only person who does this.
        I seem to have improved again but a few years ago, after my mother died, huge globs of work-related stuff fell right out of my head, and I had no memory of ever reading or taking notes on things I’d been working on, though there were the notes on my laptop, in my writing style. It was like being a ghost in my own life.

    2. And in addition to WRITE EVERY IDEA DOWN, I’d add REMEMBER TO GO BACK AND READ ALL YOUR IDEAS. If I’d read all my notes on the chapter I worked on this summer (a big revision fail), I’d have ended up with much better writing, I think

    3. “order up those books and articles so they’re teed up and ready to go”—a good task for days when you only have 5 minutes or you’re brain dead. It moves the project forward.

      1. My “ideas” file for each project is the most valuable file I have. I can dump anything in there–no matter how seemingly crazy. If I’ve scribbled something down I try to type it up in the “ideas” file ASAP as bits of paper are easily lost.

    1. And in addition to WRITE EVERY IDEA DOWN, I’d add REMEMBER TO GO BACK AND READ ALL YOUR IDEAS. If I’d read all my notes on the chapter I worked on this summer (a big revision fail), I’d have ended up with much better writing, I think.

      1. Last week’s goal: 2 hours research/writing per day, progress on MMP and translation.

        Achieved: one day of 2 hours; another day where I wrote 215 words and ordered some ILL books. This was all in aid of the MMP. No translation work.

        Next goal: 2 hours research/writing per day, progress on MMP MWF and translation T-Th.

        Commentary: we’ll see if more specificity about what to work on when will help me get to both the projects. I am having some trouble with my schedule this term, in all sorts of ways: teaching in the morning means I have to leave quite early if I want to avoid adding 50% to my already-hefty commute time. This means more time on campus but it’s harder to get exercise and yoga shoe-horned in. At any rate, the result is that my campus days are very productive (I leave campus and go to a coffee shop to write, and I do feel a little guilty about “running away” and refusing to work on teaching or service in that slot, but also triumphant that I have done so!), but then the next day, at home, I’m worn out and also need to put in more time exercising and prepping food for the long days on campus.

        Added to that, the Tiny Cat needs a lot of care and attention. In each of the last 3 weeks, there’s been an emergency vet run, and each time we think “this will probably be the end” and each time she has surprised us and pulled through. I keep reminding myself that this is not, in fact, “the new normal” but a situation that probably won’t go on very much longer. I swear that cat has borrowed lives from somewhere, but even she can’t have an unlimited supply. So I’m doing the best I can in this situation (and looking after her on at-home days is another reason campus days are better for writing, just now).

        Oh, cats. How can such small critters fill so much head-space?

      2. Oh, poor Tiny Cat, and poor Dame Eleanor! That’s an emotionally exhausting situation — and yes, it’s inevitably going to take up head space.

      3. Pets provide much needed comfort and distraction. So sorry to hear that tiny cat is in distress.

      4. Poor kitty! I am sorry your household is having to go through this and has to begin to say goodbye.

      5. I always have a notebook (i.e. a real, paper notebook) that I use to write down ideas for a given project — each project gets a dedicated notebook. I haven’t quite figured out how to translate that into digital formats (beyond keeping an equivalent folder in Dropbox), but I’ve used this since writing my dissertation — each chapter was on an individual writer, so each chapter got a dedicated notebook.

        Which reminds me, I really need to read over the notebook(s) for this project…

      1. I had a hard time posting, too, so please axe away if my comments show up twice. No links or HTML, but WordPress has been giving me a hard time.

      2. I just had to approve a couple more comments from people who have posted here before & should go through with ease. I’m sorry, people; I have no idea what is up with WordPress this weekend. I haven’t changed anything to do with commenting.

  2. Last week’s goal: 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.

    Accomplished: 1) read a bit and firmed up my reading list, 2) yes, along with advisor notes from all iterations of the chapter, 3) yes, freewriting saved me this week, 4) still waiting on writing partner, ALSO) wrote a new abstract for Ch. 2 and sent to writing partner

    Next goal: 1) freewrite 3×20 min. and solidify outline, 2) read for Ch. 2, 3) new Ch. 2 draft: 1500 words, 4) make easy revisions of Ch. 3 from writing partner review.

    Commentary: This week was all about preparing for the revise and easing into the post-vacation work week and my kids’ first week of school. I had to fight feelings of panic surrounding my impending deadline (Ch. 2 draft article version to editor by mid-October). My summer revision of this chapter went awry because I was so focused on the deadline and didn’t take the time I needed to let my insightful mind work on the problem. The three freewriting sessions were quite productive. I’ve got a new through-line for the chapter and have worked out some of the outlining. Next week, I’m going to pick up the pace on reading a bit, but still try to keep that insightful mind in terms of the writing. I’ll be redrafting on a blank screen (Scrivener lets me see my old draft to cut and paste from); so low word count, and (I hope) less panic.

    1. I was fighting panic this week with my paper, too. It’s been a while since I had that feeling and I was shocked at how my brain froze and I had only white noise in my head.

      I think it’s great we both kept going despite the panicky feelings.

  3. Last week’s goal: finish a few introductory paragraphs for a short extract from a medieval chronicle.

    Accomplished: Done! (This was mainly revisions and editing, not related to the main goal project.)

    Next goal: 1 side of note-making on the introduction to the short edition, and turn a page of transcription into a page of a ‘first edit’. I won’t be able to log in next weekend; I will report back in two weeks.

    Commentary: I started with an achievable weekly goal. The next goal is a bit more stretching but should still be achievable. I’m a little nervous about the main goal though!

      1. Glad to have you! I hope you have a good weekend “off” next week. It’s good you’re starting out with an achievement before going to the stretchier goal: builds up momentum.

  4. Last week’s goal: Write the AB section of chapter 1.

    Accomplished: Done but still quite rough. I think this may need to combine with the J section in this chapter.

    Next goal: Continue work on AB section and combine with J section.

    Commentary: It was a busy week even in spite of, or perhaps because it was a short week. I am on the verge of finishing a university committee appointment, so that took time away from writing this week. And I worked on a couple of other research/writing related things that I need to clear off my list. Still, I did manage to work on book ms. revisions all but one day this week.

  5. I didn’t post last week due to holiday travel and three birthdays.

    goal for this September-December group:
    1. submit article that still needs revisions
    2. submit article that just needs proofreading and re-formatting
    3. write MLA paper

    1 and 2 were my goals for the summer, and I thought 3 would be a limited and reasonable goal for my fall semester.

    One of my goals for the semester is to figure out working on multiple projects. Juggling teaching, service, writing is enough of a challenge, but I need to be able to prioritize and juggle better.

    Goal: I didn’t post one, but was planning to work on my article today.
    Accomplished: Other than facing up to the fact that my summer goals are unmet, nothing.

    I had time to squeeze in writing on Wednesday and Friday, but did not.

    Next Goal:
    time: work 1/2-1 hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    Frankly, I’m not sure how realistic that is, since taking time once a week whiles teaching has been my big victory the past few semesters.
    task: editing the journal article

    1. It seems like getting item #2 off your list as quickly as you can would help solve some of the juggling. You can do it! It might be time to apply some productive procrastination–make the formatting and proofreading the thing you do when you’re avoiding one of your other projects.

      1. Also, formatting and editing are things it’s easier to do in small stints. You can set goals like “one paragraph” or “one page,” and then it’s easy to remember where you left off. You’ll feel so good when you get that article sent off!

      2. I completely agree, but I’ve let it hang over my head forever. That’s part of what I mean by juggling–not just the hard things, but letting go of a big job to get the small job done.

  6. Last week’s goal: complete the conference paper that is the first step towards the final paper.

    Accomplished: paper completed and sent to discussant, powerpoint slides done, figured out a good structure for the talk.

    This week’s goal: feel confident with the talk, fly around the world, give the talk, enjoy the last days of a European summer, figure out the next steps for the paper.

    Commentary: this paper has knocked my confidence. My initial plans for analysis aren’t working because I don’t have the theory chops to do what I planned. But I’ve built something halfway decent that shouldn’t be a cause for public shaming and ridicule.

    Two things that helped writing despite the despair: reading Notorious PhD’s post on starting out a new project; and being reminded by a colleague that I won’t be the worst presenter at the conference.

    Some weeks I aim for glory, some weeks not being the most crap is enough.

    1. The nice aspect of conferences is that you can bring in preliminary work and admit that it’s still a work-in-progress. That can actually inspire your audience to give useful feedback. Sure, there might be a few who’re more interested in shooting others down than adding to the scholarly discourse, but I find they’re not the majority of people I meet at conferences. Good luck to you!

      1. That’s a helpful comment. There’s power to be had in being the person up the front, framing the terms of engagement.

        And you’re right: academic people on the whole are nice, not nasty.

    2. Good luck at your conference! Congrats on all the work you got done this week. I hear you about not being the most crap. These days I’m mostly aiming for passable.

    3. I love your last comment. J Leidl is right – I have seen that strategy work well at a number of conferences and I’m hoping to use it myself in February.

      1. Absolutely. Conference papers do not have to be perfect and polished. The one I’m working on certainly isn’t. And your goal is achieved so congrats!

    4. The most comments/questions I ever received at a conference were at one where I said right up front that it’s a work in progress and I welcome any comments or questions because I’d much rather have them there than at my dissertation defense. People laughed, so they were on my side right away, but I also came away with great ideas to think about AND some really positive feedback that validated what I was doing. So presenting works in progress can be so helpful!

  7. Last week’s goal: write 1500 words for my chapter.

    Accomplished: 780 words for the chapter.

    Next week’s goal: 1500 words for the chapter. That should put me pretty close to completion and at a spot where I can assess how much will need to be revised and rewritten before it goes onto my editor.

    Commentary: I didn’t get as much done as I’d planned. Some of that was due to the start of term and its usual troubles in slightly new versions. There’s nothing like spending one entire day wrestling your university’s newly updated and dreadfully opaque CMS into shape to make you think that teaching without technology has advantages! I also diverted some of my writing time into preliminary work on a new project (which can mostly sit on the back burner until the new year beyond a week’s worth of dedicated work in early October.) No use beating myself up, though. Just keep swimming!

  8. Last week’s goal: finish a chapter, polish (references) for a piece that’s due, look at the overall picture.

    Accomplished: lots of looking at the overall picture; should finish the references this evening; didn’t finish the chapter.

    For next week: Begin work on a new chapter, to the tune of at least 1500 words.

    Commentary: I think I’m just plain burned out on the chapter that’s about 90% finished: I avoid working on it and am just sick of it. Hence a switch to productive procrastination: working on the next chapter, which I’m very excited about. Also–having to check in this week is really making a difference!

    1. I’m a huge believer in productive procrastination. (I worked for an hour on a sabbatical proposal last Sunday because I didn’t want to grade … and yet the grading got done anyway because it had to, plus I’d started the proposal. Everyone’s a winner!) Good luck with the new chapter this week.

    2. Oh, I hate that point where you are just sick and tired of whatever it is you’re working on. I think when you reach that point, it’s probably more productive to take a break from it and do something else.

      1. That’s also why I find it really hard to work with just ONE goal for a time period like this writing group – I’m much more productive if I can move between two projects depending on which I dislike least…

      2. Sorry… I swear I didn’t hit enter, there. But I was going to say Yes, switching things around is hugely helpful… even with my one big project, I’m giving myself a lot of freedom to write in different sections completely at random, depending on what I feel like working on. It means I probably won’t have any one chapter done until they all are, which has its own drawbacks, but for now it lets me get a lot more done.

  9. Main goal: draft first chapter; last week’s goal: five hours of research (plus minor goals: get Dropbox working so that I can work from home or school; plus hammer out with co-author our budget request)

    Accomplishment: Made it on all fronts! And in the first week of classes as well — yay! Plus I worked for about an hour on a sabbatical application.

    Next week’s goal: Five hours of research, spread over at least three days; plus, committee meeting to present the budget request

    Commentary: I feel great about the five hours of archival research I did this past week, plus the one hour on the sabbatical proposal, but I also did it all in two sessions that left me tired rather than energized afterward. Some of this is inevitable with archival work — it’s not practicable to just pop into the archive for 20 minutes — but I do want to move to a more sustainable practice over the course of the term. I’ve been thinking this week about Boice’s advocacy of “brief, daily sessions,” which has worked extremely well for me in the past but seems difficult to put into practice on a HS teacher’s schedule, especially while I’m doing research rather than writing. But I thought I’d try moving toward brief, daily sessions by at least spreading my five hours next week over an additional day, three days instead of two, in hopes that a shorter session today will make it easier for me to start a session tomorrow.

    1. It must be really hard to incorporate archival research into a full-time work week, so five hours is great. I’ve tried the ‘writing in small increments’ approach but it just doesn’t work for me – I get really frustrated if I get into a flow and then have to stop after 20 minutes or so. Hope you figure out a way to continue the research but make it a bit less draining.

    2. I get really energized by time in the archives (or similar) and then can’t wait to start writing things up. But certainly doing archival work in short spurts is a ridiculous notion. Remember that Boice is a psychologist; he probably has to spend longer chunks of time running experiments or interviewing the people he’s studying. Archival time for us is as lab time is for scientists.

      1. That is a great comparison of lab work/archive time! I’ve never thought of that before. I really miss my lab time now that I’m past the data stage for all my current projects.

    3. Hello WhatNow,

      trying to combine archival work with another full-time job sounds very difficult. I’m also doing the researching for my writing around another job. Is it possible to take photos or photocopies of some of the key items and work on those when you have 20 minutes, rather than having to set yourself up in the archive each time?

      1. John, I was thinking along much the same lines, actually. There are some things that just require buckling down in the archive itself, but many other items are digitized and can be looked at in much shorter bursts of effort.

    4. Awesome. I know what those days are like and how it is sometimes hard to find time to go to the bathroom. Literally.

  10. Main goal: finish dissertation.

    Weekly goal: finish last chapter.

    Accomplished: I gathered almost all of my material in one place and checked out a couple of books from the library. But goal not achieved.

    Commentary: Someone in my first period class breathed on me and I immediately fell ill and have been out for the count for the past week. That is when I have not been teaching.

    Goal for next week: Finish this chapter! I need to find a catchy intro for the chapter; solidify my argument in the introduction to the chapter; and put in my statistical and anecdotal examples. Fresh writing should be about 10-15pp.

      1. Thanks! I’m feeling better and I told my students that they were not allowed to breathe on me 🙂
        Hope your writing goes well too!

  11. Last week’s goal: (1) Outline a tentative draft of my comprehensive, and (2) map out the main ideas for my paper.

    Accomplished: (1) Outline of my first few dissertation chapters [which will make up my comprehensive!], and (2) began mapping the ideas for my paper, gathered some foundation articles for it and began reading and making notes.

    Next week’s goals: (1) I would like to begin making more specific sentence like points in my comprehensive outline with specific notes/references and ideas; and (2) read at least 5 articles pertaining to my paper topic [I have 5 really great theory and review papers that I think would add great direction] and with this, begin incorporating writing / notes into my ‘idea mapping’.

    Commentary: I realized that making an outline to guide a paper or large piece of work is more difficult than I thought it would. I am still swimming through literature and to map out a comp/chapter that is mostly theoretical and conceptually based is more difficult than I imagined. To be honest, I am not confident in my outline’s direction, and got a bit lost. I have so many ideas and thoughts that I think are valuable to my dissertation, and it’s hard to know exactly where they would be best placed without actually writing and connecting thoughts…this made me doubt my knowledge of the topic and my ability to synthesize what I have read. I have never taken the route to design a really structured outline before I being writing, so this is different for me. Normally I just write and write and write, and then go back and restructure and edit it down until I feel I have captured all my thoughts, ideas and the literature out there. So I have to say- week one was more difficult than I thought, and was certainly an eye opener to what I can learn from such a simple task.

    1. Thinking in terms of a big project like a dissertation is a difficult shift. My dissertation is shaping up to look much different than my prospectus prescribed, but with the same topic and literature. My advisor suggested having a ‘best guess’ for the early stages, and then modifying the outline as my writing progressed. Last spring the dissertation finally seemed like a whole thing (in my head) rather than four disparate chapters. It took a long time of being mired in the details and writing my way through to get to a place mentally where I could step back and conceive of the thing as a whole. You will get there! Outlining can be helpful, but don’t let the process keep you from writing.

      1. I am glad you mentioned that I should let it take me away from writing! Because I felt like I was getting overwhelmed and bogged down by it! It’s nice to hear others’ experiences with this process. It’s difficult to conceptualize a chapter within a larger dissertation!

    2. I’m at the point of trying to develop an outline for my proposal, and I’m having exactly the same problems. After struggling with it quite a bit, I decided to just set up a draft structure with the knowledge that I can always change it (and surely will) as I go through the writing process. I’m using Scrivener for this early stage stuff, and am finding it suits me a lot better than Word because it’s easy to set up ideas/themes/ sections as separate chunks of text and then rearrange them until they seem to make sense. Like using index cards but with the benefit of being able to incorporate references, tags, links to other sections etc.

      1. I love Scrivener! It’s been great for early stages, and then as I send out drafts, I tend to shift into Word. If I have major revisions/rewrites, I often shift back into Scrivener.

      2. Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s nice to know others are feeling like me! I like your attitude that it’s an evolving document! I feel like it should be, but also am hesitant to stray from it! I have Scrivener and am excited to use it! Like you said, I think it’s going to be so helpful for organizing thoughts and ideas! I love their corkboard approach!

    3. Don’t be discouraged by the many different directions that are possible during the outline stage of such a large project. Mine had three main avenues outlined at the proposal stage, one of them turned into the main topic of two papers, , the second turned out to be a complete bust (as in, can’t be done, others have tried and failed) and another one disappeared entirely (technical as well as intellectual reasons – it wasn’t doable with the material we have, and turned out that it wasn’t as interesting as first thought), and a topic that I briefly mentioned as a possible question in one paragraph at the end of the outline turned into a fantastic project, with results that has actually completely changed how people view the topic, and makes up half my thesis now.. So you never know when the “would be nice to do if I have time” part will turn into something great. The thesis outline is not set in stone, you can adjust later on.

  12. Last week’s goal: Finish revising my letter for writing program jobs, and start the reading for the review article.

    Accomplished: I didn’t finish revising the letter, but I did get another draft done for the writing jobs, and also revised (and possibly finished?) my R1 letter. Read one article for the review article.

    Analysis: Well, I kinda flubbed the reading part, but I feel like I got a lot done nonetheless. Mostly, I think I’m still recovering from the dissertation, and irrationally obsessing over the job market when the job list hasn’t even come out yet.

    Goals for next week: Get application for at least one, but preferably two, fellowships done. Read a BOOK for the review article (may be a stretch goal; I have papers that will be coming in on Wednesday that will need a very quick turn around).

    1. Congrats on all you got done! I’ve already neede multiple recovery sessions from the dissertation, and im only 2/3 done. I’d imagine it takes some time to feel like getting back in the groove of writing (which isnt to say one should avoid writing when one doesn’t feel like it).

    2. As far as I can remember, I think I substituted relationship drama for dissertation drama. I do not actually recommend this as a recovery method, though it certainly took my mind off the diss. Steady progress on job applications seems like a more productive approach.

      1. I took the relationship drama route too. Then moved to another country. I survived, but it perhaps wasn’t the smartest approach…

      2. My blood relatives were kind(?) enough to supply significant (and significantly disruptive) drama within 5 months of my defense (just after I’d deliberately taken a summer off and was feeling ready to plunge back in). I don’t really recommend that route, either. Maybe job-market drama is the least of the available evils?

  13. This week’s goal: feel short. Only 2 of six (to seven) work blocks actually accomplished.

    Next week’s goal: do all possible blocks. One per day, minus Sunday when I co-compose conference presentation and Friday when I am at conference. But there will be one research-writing block Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. In this time I will ideally finish reading one book and as I do so, look my book proto-outline in the face.

    Method: next week is going to OD on teaching-service-admin-academic guests the way this one did. Blocks can be therefore be shortened but at least one block must be done each day without fail. When to schedule: first thing in morning. Get up as early as is necessary.

    Commentary: continuity is the most important thing for me, in all areas of life. For research-writing, continuity is of course important and so is seeing these as the non negotiable activity.

      1. It depends on them and how you handle. It comes down to, you have to use them as inspiration, no matter what.

  14. last goal: Set a timeline for Chapter 2.

    accomplished: Yes.

    next goal: Print the existing mess and figure out its order

    commentary: When I set a series of deadlines to finish this chapter in 15 weeks, each task seemed more than reasonable for the allotted time. It even looked like it would be easy. Yet I know that were it not for holding myself accountable to the group, that chapter would go untouched until winter break, when I would be in a rushed panic to get as much done as possible before Spring semester begins. Setting small incremental goals seems a good approach.

    1. I feel exactly the same way – there’s a sense of accomplishment with having met the weekly goal that really keeps me going, more than I’d anticipated.

  15. Last week’s goal:
    Print and review article draft, come up with a working outline for PhD proposal

    Surprisingly, I got both these things done. I was pretty reluctant to review the article, but knowing I had to check in here was the kick in the pants I needed.

    Next goal:
    Tidy up article draft and send to supervisors/friendly reader for review
    Draft one thematic chunk of the historigraphy section for my proposal
    Refine the proposal section covering definition of terms

    Firstly, being accountable to someone other than myself definitely worked, so thank you Dame Eleanor for letting me join the group. Also, I noticed I wasted some time dithering this week because I couldn’t decide what to work on first when I got to my desk in the morning. So this week I’m going to try leaving myself a task at the end of the to start with the next morning (thus avoiding the stress of actually having to make a decision come sparrow-fart).

    1. I am so with you on the importance of having decided ahead of time exactly what the starting task is for the next day — makes all the difference!

  16. Last week’s goal: concrete outline of planned work, list specific research tasks and how they fit with staffing, download and read submission instructions and prepare a template for the proposal.

    Achieved: got the plan, linked the workpackages and tasks with what staff I would like to have (postdocs, PhD students, tech) and asked the research office to prepare the budget for me based on the staffing (to be seen if this fits within the max limit of the grant – since this is a new application scheme for me, I don’t have a good idea about how the budgeting works for this particular scheme, overheads, etc.). Also read instructions and prepared templates for 1. official forms, 2. part 1 (on scientist), 3. part 2 (on proposal) and 4. institutional supporting documents. By preparing templates I mean I read what needs to be in each of the parts and put specific bullet points in the structure of what I need to write in any section. Also looked at evaluation instructions to see what the criteria for evaluation are and make sure that I try to hit all those points in relevant sections. Parts 1 and 2 are the big two things to prepare. Part 1 has 3 separate sections, part 2 has 2 separate sections, so this gives me 5 sections to write.

    Next week: Two sections of part 1. Lit search to complement what sources I already have for part 2, but I need some extra argumentation for bits of it, download and print the newly found papers.

    Comments: so far so good, I didn’t have major issues last week, but semester hasn’t started yet, so let’s see how it goes when it does.

  17. No main goal posted last week, but see below.

    Accomplished: I did some really helpful reading on how to do the analysis for Paper Z. Now I just have to try it. Otherwise, not much.

    Next goal: actually doing the analysis for Paper Z, and redoing the graphs for Paper X.

    Commentary: Three days with a very ill friend. Two days doing some urgent lab work, and a conference abstract. None of this contributed to my main goal. On the other hand, my co-author on Paper X contributed an important piece of analysis which completes the main results section, so that has given me some momentum and enthusiasm.

    Main goal: To submit two papers (Paper X and Paper Y) and complete my part of the analysis on Paper Z. Current stages of completion:
    1) Paper X is essentially drafted, but needs redrawing of two graphs, tweaking of the results section, and general rewriting. And, it needs to be submitted without perfectionist mucking around, which I find difficult
    2) Paper Y, which needs further analysis of the data, drawing of 3 graphs, writing of Methods and Results sections, and general rewriting. I also want to submit this during the writing group period.
    3) Paper Z, a collaborative paper which on my part involves the analysis of one dataset, and the writing of these results (probably two paragraphs max.). It should be fairly straightforward, but because I am not totally confident about how to do this, it will take more time than usual.

    1. Momentum! Momentum is good. Honestly, some weeks getting that little piece of analysis to let you carry on is a great achievement. Good luck with your momentum this week!

  18. Overall goal: Book chapter. Weekly goals: cleaning up bits.

    Progress: Has it been a week already?! Somehow I’ve managed to be constantly busy, but still get nothing done. Well, almost nothing: the two job applications are away; the re-draft almost turned into a re-write and is about half-done. Nothing on the book though.

    Next week, re-reading chapter four and finishing the article.

    1. That sounds like good progress. We all know the “constantly busy/ get nothing done” problem; sometimes, once aware of it, it’s possible to get more done, and sometimes there really is that much busywork, especially at the beginning of a semester.

  19. Last Goal: Well clearly I didn’t do a great job defining this. But it was, indeed, two solid research days and working on the talk I am giving in 10 days.

    Accomplished: I did that! I worked two days on non-teaching/service tasks and finished a solid draft of the talk/powerpoint. It will need another edit and polish to shorten, but it’s all down on paper. And I read and commented on the dissertation I was less familiar with which will be defended next week. And got my two teenage daughters back to school.

    Next goal: This week is the week of two defenses at my previous institution, over an hour away. So my two research days will be spent on the road guiding these great graduate students into the next stage of their careers. Therefore, my goals are modest. Prepare comments for the dissertation I’m more familiar with. Read and write notes on two important books that will be helpful for my book chapter (and need to be incorporated into the conference paper for next month).

    Commentary: I was pleased that I managed to carve out so much research/writing time, but it required some mental discipline. I used the “freedom” program to disconnect from the internet. I highly recommend it for those of you easily distracted–it’s a free app. that allows you to not access the internet for up to two hours. If you really need to you can turn off and restart the computer which will get you connected again. But that’s enough of a disincentive to stop me.

    1. I’ve used Freedom in the past, and found it really helpful. I should try that again. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. Main goal: Revise and Beautify chapter 3 of diss as book chapter;

    last week’s goal: revisions/cleaning up citations for chapter 1, and work a bit every day.

    accomplished: worked either 30 min or an hour each day and rough revised 5 pages of ch 3.

    next goal: work an hour each day and revise 7 more pages of ch 3. This would mean I finish revising the entire chapter Nov. 7, which I have entered into my calendar.

    commentary: Ok, you might notice I didn’t go back and finish chapter 1, but I am pretty sick of it and was exited to reread and get into the thick of chapter 3. I am having trouble fitting in a whole hour *and* working out *and* getting to campus early enough to find a parking space, but I am making incremental progress. Also, the first sets of student essays are looming and I may soon become completely buried in grading. I hope to keep up the momentum though!

    1. All progress is good progress! And it sounds like you’re making it. Letting go of Chapter 1 seems the most productive thing to do. I’m sure when you come back to it, you’ll be ready to have some great insights about it.

  21. I wish you much comfort and patience and strength with Tiny Cat. They fill up so much of our lives, and it’s all the harder to see them go.

    Last goal: at least 8 hours of writing per week, or 2,000 words, whichever comes first.

    What was achieved: I did hit the 8 hours, though not quite the 2,000 words.

    Analysis: I am SO happy about having joined this group. Planning out the 8 hours of writing made me rethink my schedule, and most importantly, it helped me prioritize writing over the other things that usually get in the way. I haven’t been writing regularly for a few weeks, so I’m not at all disappointed at not meeting the word goal – it took some time to go back over what I already had and figure out what needed to come next. But all of those ideas are stirring around in my head now, and I’ve overcome the initial resistance that I always have to taking on a project. Groove, here I come. I’m also thinking about getting back to blogging, but I can’t decide whether that will help the writing or take time away… do I have a finite amount of words in me, or will using them generate more?

    Goal for next week: at least 8 hours of writing per week, or 2,000 words.

  22. Main goal: a) complete and submit a paper with multiple co-authors, b) complete and submit a substantial second paper from a different project, and c) write and submit a grant application for December 1st

    last week’s goal: think about my bigger picture wishes and aims for the coming year

    achieved: Nothing towards my goal, really. this has been week -3 before the students return, and my first full week off of the summer, so I have been tidying/cleaning, sleeping and reading novels, and since Thursday hosting visitors. I did one writing-related thing – commenting on an abstract being submitted to a conference on behalf of a group project by a colleague – and otherwise have done very very little. And it’s been GREAT! In terms of larger goals for the year, I did find a rather desirable job to apply for which closes next week, so that will force me to actually pull together my materials and review where I am in a positive, how-can-I-prove-I-can-do-this-job way – a useful first step in sorting out the bigger picture. I’ve also been getting lots of ideas for using writing as a teaching tool in different modules, particularly inspired by What Now’s post about her summer school experiences, which will help with the whole ‘writing must be part of the warp and weft of every day life, not something done at special times’ approach I need to refind. I wrote a bit of thinking-about-the-job stuff on my blog too, so I guess that sort of counts as writing…

    analysis: time off is bliss. And it’s been such a nice change to do productive things rather than just reactive avoiding-work things. It’s going to be a great feeling to go into the new semester from a cleaned, reorganised, decluttered space (there’s still work to do, especially on the books, but I can create a cluttered mass of chaos in a giant hotel room with just an overnight bag, without any effort, so there always will be work to do!). I’m assuming that I needed this break to make space and distance for thinking about things like goals, aims and writing, and focusing on what comes next.

    planning for next week: Tomorrow I am busy – attacking my messy room, taking my visitors out for a meal, going for a walk if it’s not too hot (bad forecast). Monday I have an examiners meeting then will be spending time with my visitors. Tuesday I will have a nice block of writing time after they leave (which will be about 10am), and a good reason to stay at home and write in it as I have an appointment to get a quote for work on the house mid-afternoon. Wednesday to Friday will probably be pretty busy with people and teaching preparation.

    goals for next week: complete and file the job application and review the status of the multi-author paper (goal a).

    1. I’m glad the time off has been rejuvenating. I hope the rest refreshed you enough to make work this week productive!

  23. Last week’s goal: get *something* done on one of the two projects that are my main goal for the semester.

    Progress: Welp, I actually did that — I wrote 590 words of my short invited article, in one sitting no less (and even put a little progress bar on my blog). It’s just draft-level writing, but that’s over 20% of my word limit! Woot!

    Next goal: continue writing the invited article (at least 250 words), but at least start thinking about the review essay (perhaps by reading others — I’m really not familiar with the genre except in the NYRB style).

    But in doing that, I pretty much said “F’ it!” to other stuff I’m supposed to be doing. Sigh. Too many balls! Poor juggling skills!

    Also, hugs to you, Dame E., regarding Tiny Cat’s health. We also had an emergency vet trip this week — though for a much less serious situation — and that place is the saddest place in the world, even when you know your pet isn’t on the brink of death, because so many others are. So I can imagine the distress it must be to go there constantly and wonder if this time is the last time for your pet. I hope the rest of the time you have left with her is a little gentler.

    1. Well done, Dr. V! But, yes, big sigh on the trying to juggle everything. I have this fantasy life in which I exercise and eat well and stay on top of grading and write daily and prep/teach great classes and am a receptive and emotionally present partner and have a clean house and … and … and … And I’m just not sure that it’s possible to get all of these things done! Hence the need for priorities, I guess, and it’s feeling good to re-prioritize writing, but I’m also very aware of the things that are therefore slipping down on the priorities list and probably won’t get done.

      1. I really think it’s not possible to get ALL of the things done. But instead of focusing on what you’re not doing right, I’m trying to think in terms of cycling around… so far this semester I’ve been really good about writing and going to the gym; over the summer I was better about attending to the house and my friendships. Next semester it’ll be something else. I can’t do all the things all the time, but as long as all of them get attention in cycles, that’s good enough.

  24. OK, that’s weird — my comment traveled in time and appeared *before* your last comment, Dame E. (making nonsense of its response to your trauma with Tiny Cat). What the heck?!

      1. At least the time stamps will help us sort all this out. Something is rotten in the state of WordPress, though.

        Thank you for your good wishes. As to the vet—one was an emergency run to our vet in normal hours, and the other two were so much in the middle of the night that we were the only clients there, so I guess things could have been worse; at least I wasn’t broken up over anyone else’s pets, which I probably would have been if someone else had been there with a potential end-of-life situation.

      2. Dame Eleanor, I’ve had this before at wordpress and this happens if you delete a comment that had a thread of subsequent comments. I think you must have deleted a comment by Notorious early on that someone replied to (at least that’s how it looks reading the time travelling comments) and this causes the time machine, because the “hanging” comments don’t know what they are linking to anymore and get shifted to the end every time something new appears.

  25. alloverthemap: Main goal: finish Project Q; last week’s goal: get Project RM to on-hold state.

    Last goal: get Project RM to on-hold state.

    Accomplished: 1.5 of the 2 major revisions required to get RM to the on-hold state.

    Next goal: I like the idea of product vs. process goals, so I’ll have one of each this time around.

    Product: same as last week. get Project RM to on-hold state. This requires synthesizing the notes I took on my own past RM work into a document I can read later about approaches I tried, what didn’t work, and what’s worth following up later. I started that document last week. I’d like to finish it next week. I’d also like to draft a much shorter version of that document in the form of a letter to my post-doc advisor summarizing and explaining where I’m at with the project.

    Process: work like I did last week. Continue the internet (except email) ban.

    Commentary: I was pretty unhappy about not accomplishing my goal when I left work at the end of the week, but I am really happy with the intensity I brought to my writing work this week. Project RM makes me unhappy, but the only way out is through. I embraced that attitude last week and it made all the difference to my productivity. I’m ready to do it again. It’s going to feel so, so good to get this project off my desk.

    1. I like this product and process goals thing. Maybe putting one in the service of the other? I might have to adopt this myself next week!

  26. (Main goal: Give articles a break, and work on novel idea which has been floating for years.) Last week’s goal: Figure out how to move forward with life (see commentary).

    Accomplished: I’ve got a great sense of relief at the thought of not pushing forward on the article writing track, and start to panic when trying to re-ignite the articles. Have been giving the whole ‘do I really want an academic career’ problem a good thinking through.

    Next week’s goal: Spend an hour a day, planning out the novel and working out where the research is needed.

    Commentary: I’ve really been struggling with the article-writing side of academic life. This has not been helped by having my best article languishing with a stupid post-grad journal (which, after 9 months of follow-up emails, has finally sent out the article to a new reader), and not really enjoying the directions which my supervisor thinks I should go with new articles. And this is really hard, because she does soooo much to help me in so many ways. I enjoy the research, sometimes, but hate trying to write things perfectly.

    So, I have been thinking about what life outside of academia looks like. I’ve been applying for academic jobs for 2 years now but, as I _still_ don’t have anything on the actual-factual publications list, I know that this year’s round is not going to be any better. So perhaps I should take a break from that, polish up the other couple of articles and send them out, but not apply for jobs (unless they’re really relevant), and look at getting on with something else. This is, in part, rather scary, but when I think about not having to write articles, I feel so much happier.

    So, while researching other job options, rather than tossing writing out the window, I thought this might be a good opportunity to a) create good habits, and b) do the research and start writing this novel I’ve been contemplating for about 9 years, on and off. I don’t know if I can write fiction, and it may start out as historical research, but there’s only one real way to find out.

    TL:DNR – I’m moving in a different direction than I was about a month ago, and it’s kind of exciting.

    1. Good luck with the new direction! I like the building good habits idea; I think that’s what I’m going to have to do with the freelance work I’ve taken on — do it, at least on occasion, during the time slots I’d prefer to reserve for research writing, because there’s no other time. But at least it keeps up the writing habit, right? At least I hope so.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’ve just gone and spent an hour sorting things and inputting them into Scrivener. Feeling really energised, which will hopefully also brush off onto research writing during the week, as well.

    2. I agree with you completely that the only way to know if you enjoy fiction writing is to try it. There is a wide grey area in historical writing, from strict historical fact to creative non-fiction. You might well find someplace in the middle that you like. Go for it!

      1. I have a few friends writing fiction of various sorts, so thought I might as well try. (And I do half want to create something new, with the sources and various scraps of information, mixed with the story…)

      2. That’s what I am doing, in a sense. My novel takes a tangent from my dissertation, filling in what gaps exist in the historical record in what I hope is a consistent way.

        As for the day job, I think it forces me to be efficient; it also proves to me that I want to write fiction, because I have to crowbar it into my life.
        Like rented life, I’d happily write full-time, but don’t have the wherewithal to do that.
        I will say that the synergy between the academic writing and the fiction is very helpful for each, so I would probably continue to do the academic writing even if it were not required by the day job.
        Best of luck, and I look forward to hearing about your progress!

    3. Yay! Fiction! I’m trying that too. If someone would pay me a living wage to teach and not deal with anything else (no meetings, service, annoying co-workers), I’d do it, but that’s not really an option. I’ve spent the last several years trying to fit into academia and ignoring my desire to write in other ways. It’s been a bit of a struggle to allow myself to be “me” now–someone who wants to (can?) write fiction. Good luck!

      1. I think, though I’m not sure, that having a real job (for the next couple of weeks) will help with writing fiction, owing to the fact that I have to get up and do other stuff. If I was at home all day, I know I would get little done, largely on account of the cat demanding I sit down so she can sit on me…

      2. My cat does that but then demands that once I get started on the computer or reading that I must feed him. (In fact he’s doing that right now)

    4. Are you me?!? I hear you on the two years on the job market, nothing great published on the CV. And struggling with article writing! My supervisor is really great as well, but I wish I’d had more of a kick in the ass about articles. My commiserations.. it’s hard!

      1. It’s really good to know I’m not alone. But rather hard to be asking “What do you want to do when you grow up?” at age 35! I thought I had the answer, but now I’m not so sure.

  27. Last week’s goal: Plan the research trip.

    Accomplished: Nearly done. I have been granted access to the materials I need, and have received leave from my university. I have plotted a rough outline of what to look at when, following the general logic of the planned article. I have made my train reservations, but still have to make hotel arrangements.

    Analysis: I made very small, discrete pieces of the goal to work on, as I knew this past week would be difficult. Fall semester is in full swing, and the library has become less of a place to hide. I am canvassing nearby buildings for hidey-holes once I get to the outlining and writing stages.

    Next week’s goal: outline of the article. I need to get a better sense of what manuscript or incunabulum fits where, and therefore what can be skimmed or checked from film.

    I sympathize with everyone having trouble finding things. Despite marking boxes with “RESEARCH–OPEN FIRST,” I am finding them at the bottom and the back of the piles in the basement and garage. The moving men were far too bored with the stacks of boxes to allow me the time to nudge them one way or the other with the necessary focus. That’s something to think about for the next move, which, eek, will be upon me far too soon.

    So sorry that Tiny Cat is having such troubles!

    1. I’ve got boxes like that squirreled away in all kinds of places, from several moves, and, for the most part, only myself to blame. Maybe I can claim I’m creating an archive or set of time capsules or something? Amazon very kindly reminds when I’ve already bought a book from them, but sometimes I end up buying another copy anyway.

      1. Ha, I love the excuse of building an archive! I am becoming ruthless with things as I go through boxes. I am so irritated by finding my summer work dresses yesterday, now that the weather has changed. Gah!

        I assuage my guilt when Amazon reminds me that I’ve already bought a book by buying the Kindle version. Of course, then I should follow through and sell the physical book when I unearth it, but am sometimes Luddite enough to keep the original.

    2. When we moved this summer I had boxes labled “IMPORTANT STUFF” and “MISCL SHIT” (that was my husband taking my comment a little to literal when labeling). I made sure all four important boxes went into dad’s car so that I could get to it right away instead of wondering where it all went 🙂

  28. Goal for last week: finish teaching prep, finish the current freelance piece

    Accomplished:progress on teaching prep; minimal progress on freelance piece

    Analysis:I’m still trying to get into the rhythm of the semester, with only partial success. The freelance piece also ran into some snags that required consultation just as contacts were away for the Labor Day weekend. So there was a certain amount of OBE, and there’s the usual issue of juggling too much, but I’m not entirely satisfied, especially since I’m back to staying up too late not getting much done — a bad pattern into which I tend to fall.

    Goal for the coming week:finish creating prompts for all major assignments; finish the current freelance piece; work toward a better sleep schedule.

    1. I feel your pain with the bad sleep schedule. I have sleep issues as it is, but with being so overwhelmed with my semester’s work, I find myself getting only 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. For some who really needs more like 9 hours, that just spells disaster. Good luck getting into a routine!

    2. Progress on the freelance piece is good! (even though you’d hoped to finish it). I hope the sleeping and the productivity go well this week.

  29. Yikes, I think I bookmarked the sign-up post of yours instead of your main blog website, so when I checked last week I figured nothing was happening yet! Sorry to miss last week.

    Main Goal: Write an article based on my dissertation. I’m going through the “Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks” book to help me, since I’ve never written an article before.

    Achieved: The last few weeks, nothing. But since starting in May, I’ve figured out what aspect of my dissertation to write about, have done a lot of literature review and note taking (my diss. was written in 2008-2009, and I’ve been a SAHM since then, so I hadn’t looked at what’s been written in the field until this summer), and I’ve started drafting the article.

    Next Goal: Finish weeks 3 and 4 in WYJA book.

    Commentary: Finally, finally, it appears as though the morning sickness has left and I am feeling mostly back to normal, just as of the last five or six days. (I’m 16 weeks pregnant and this summer was completely miserable). So, I should be able to get back to work this coming week. Woo hoo!

    1. I hope weeks 3 and 4 go well. It seems like week 3 has been hanging around for way too long–it might be time to do the bare minimum that you think will be helpful from it, move on, and come back to it in a few weeks. I’m not in your field, but I’m happy to read anything, if you need an outside reader. Just contact me off-list.

  30. Last week’s goal: 1) 2,000 words on lyric essay; 2) 4 sessions of 30 minutes each on poem sequence.

    Achieved: Yes! And I’m absolutely sure I wouldn’t have done a fraction of it without the motivation and accountability of this group, so, Dame Eleanor, I kiss the hem of your garment.

    Next week’s goals: 1) 1,000 words on lyric essay; 2) 3 sessions of 20 minutes each on poem sequence.

    Commentary: I’m dialing back on goals because I know it’s going to be a particularly demanding week in terms of teaching and family work, and I think I’d rather have the satisfaction of achieving a modest goal than the discouragement of falling short on a more ambitious one. I’m also disappointed that I did very little exercise this week–in a couple of cases, the writing did in fact push the exercise out of the way. So I’m also setting a couple of exercise goals (two bodyweight workouts and two runs, if you’re interested) and will try to hit those targets as well. Mens sana in corpore sano, and all that jazz.

    1. Wow — as always, I’m inspired by how much you get done in the many facets of your life! And I hear you on the exercise front as well. One thing I’m struggling with in adding writing goals to my week is that I also have a balanced-life goal, and I’m not sure how well the two work together. But of course the balanced-life goal is a perpetual one, so it’s not like I had it figured out before I added the writing goals!

      1. WN?, it always cheers me up when you remind me that I do, in fact, usually get quite a lot done, because there are so many things that I let slip. Thanks for the reminder that some goals are perpetual–I’ll never have it all figured out. I hope you have a great week–sounds like you’re off to a terrific start!

  31. I didn’t manage to finish the ugly draft, but I did meet the process-goal of at least one day’s writing (Monday), plus some writing work on Tuesday, Friday and indeed Saturday. So I’m counting that as a win, I think.

    Goals for this week: same again, I think. Try to knock out another 1000 words; two or three days’ of writing time.

  32. Last goal: To dust off 2 thesis papers and decide how to approach revisions
    Accomplished: Done, with some technical difficulties involving computers in boxes. I think I have a pretty good plan for the revisions, and I’ve read through the material I have so I know where I’m starting.
    Next goal: Revise Intro and Discussion sections for Paper A, and the Intro and data sections for Paper B. They are related so I have to work on them together to make sure they are consistent and not repeating themselves. Besides the result goal I’m also picking a process oriented one which is to block out 2 hours every day in the office where only writing will happen, no spill-over lecture prep or other stuff.
    Commentary: I picked an easy goal to start off with since this was also the week before classes start so it was filled with meetings and advising and technical organization. Next week’s goal is a real writing goal, so I’m hoping to get a good start with a writing habit.

  33. Main goal: turn conference paper into a ready-to-submit, first-ever article

    last week’s goal: decide which conference paper to use

    achieved: eh. . . no

    commentary: teaching 3 new classes is tough! But I guess you all already knew that, right? I did get myself Write Your Journal Article in 12 weeks–thanks for the tip! I’d read it before from the library, so I was familiar with it, but I hadn’t really used it, yet am planning to do so now–next week?

    new week’s goal: in addition to deciding on a paper, do the activities for Argument from Belcher’s 12-week book; carve out 30 minutes each day except Wednesday to do so

    1. Week 1 is a great way to ease into article writing, especially at the start of a new term. Good luck with those classes!

  34. Goal: make a 15 week plan and finish the main part of the short article.

    Accomplished: I’ve made onlly a rough plan and I decided not to write the short article.

    Commentary: the whole week was spent to prepare a bunch of document I needed to submit by today. I submitted it (so this is ok) but I was not able to do anything other than that. So my first week of this Sept-Dec Writing Group was not a good one. I must set myself to re-start for next week. Ok, I will focus on my presentation in November.

    Next goal: a 15 week plan/ read the first part of main material/ re-read three basic articles on this subject

    1. It sounds like you still made progress and made a deadline, even if you didn’t get your writing goals fulfilled. I’d call that good. I hope this next week is even more successful for you.

  35. Goal: make a 15 week plan/ finish the first part of the short article

    Accomplished: I’ve made only a rough plan. Worce, I decided not to write the short article, considering my schedule this fall.

    Commentary: I spent the whole week to prepare a bunch of important document. I had to revise several times and I was really exhausted. Anyway, this is done. Now, I am going to focus on my next big presentation in November. The topic is what I have been working on early this year, but I want to improve as much as possible, of course.

    Next goal: a 15 week plan/ read the first part of the main material/ re-read three basic articles

  36. Week’s goals: email sent. Good writing on article–I never count pages of writing because my writing style is extremely nonlinear–enough done to feel excited about doing more. Only one article read, but the writing is more important than reading at this point.

    Next week’s goals: continue writing, with hoped-for goal of half an hour every other day. Read and take notes on one or two articles or book chapters.

    I’d like to do more if possible, but my weeks are by definition unpredictable. Life-wise I’m really needing to learn how to say “no” and make it stick, which is difficult in my present circumstances! I’m grateful for the Sunday check-in since weekends are the best time for me to work on this project. Thanks!

    1. Saying “no” is really hard. Lately I’ve had a lot of motivation to say no, and I think it kind of shocks people when I give them a direct NO, instead of being more diplomatic. I’ve found it helpful to make it a practice to delay saying yes–even if I end up saying yes, I’m less likely to if I give myself time to consider. Checking the calendar or checking on other commitments can be good ways to delay. (Then you can try to convince yourself to say no.) I’m sure in about a week I’ll be needing my own advice on this, so let me know if you discover any tricks!

      1. I’m still learning. Saying “no” is frowned on where I work, so it’s a fine line to walk. The boundary-pushing is getting more intense, though, so “no” is becoming more necessary. I’ve also had more motivation lately too, and that helps, as does being clearer with myself about certain kinds of compartmentalization. The pushback can get unsettling though…

  37. Main goal: complete a book proposal and make a working outline; last week’s goal: read advice books/columns, construct “Book Publishing Plan,” complete conference paper for submission.

    Accomplished: I did all the readings and summarized the findings into a series of steps. I have the conference paper ready to go, but it’s a short version of the paper.

    Next Goal: I need to work on the longer version of this paper. For the book, I will do some free writing and brainstorming about the overall theme and argument of the book. I will also choose two books that I will use as models for my book. And I will make a list of potential presses and the contact information of editors.

    Commentary: I know I shouldn’t complain about this when others have to teach, but this unstructured free time is killing me. I’m very glad to be part of this writing group. I don’t know if I would have even completed these goals had it not been for this moment of check in.

    1. Unstructured free time is rough! I love/hated summers because while I love gardening and sunshine, I didnt know how to better use my time. This semester I only have one class, but even that forces me to organize a little.

    2. Unstructured time is hard! I find that even with say a 5 hour stretch of time (the usual for me), I stall until the last 2 hours. I think if I could convince myself to have a scheduled coffee break, or a scheduled work-out break, I’d be more successful at using the time well.

  38. Last week’s goal: Continue reading Book S for research; Begin a draft of a smaller writing piece.

    Accomplished: Finished book S.

    New goal: Create character web for book. Finish Book T (for research). Look into additiona sources to see if they are really necessary. Begin reviewing notes from Book S.

    Commentary: I’ve dropped the small writing piece after reviewing the submission guidelines and finding I couldn’t really meet those guidelines and write what I thought I was going to write. It’s no big deal, I can eventually submit the piece elsewhere when I get back to it.

    Since none of the writing I am doing is for a job per se, I feel a bit out of place! If I was writing for work, I’d have a far easier time with “you must write X hours a day” but when it’s for me, it is very different. The less fun I make it, the less I pursue it, so I’m still trying to figure that out. I’m sure it will come but that’s bee one reason why I haven’t set hard goals for myself yet, I’m still exploring. I also need to re-do my desk. It seems to be taken over by random junk over the summer. I started that process last night, trying to find a way to make things work for me. (And if husband can’t find something, oh well! haha!) The cleaning I did do made me realize we weren’t ever really out of pencils, I’ve found them all and for some reason we have about 25 sharpies. I don’t recall buying them. Ever.

    Re: kitties. Sorry about Tiny Cat!!! Captain kept us running around for awhile a few years back. Damn cat got stressed and that was what was causing his illness–after a million tests for everything else. They shouldn’t be allowed to get stressed out. I mean really.

    1. Dude the comment thing is BIZZARE!! Geez. (Also checking in when thre’s 134 comments already makes me feel a little intimidated!)

    2. I really liked your strategy (I think it was yours) of starting to write for an unspecified amount of time each day, and letting yourself stop before burn out. It seems like working with your excitement is a great way to go. It might help, too, at the end of each writing session to pick a problem to solve that starts off your next session (e.g., make this one sentence more functional/beautiful; develop this character description, etc.) to motivate the writing session and give you something interesting to start with.

      And clean desks are such a good thing! Mine’s getting piled up with articles again, so I think I probably need to spend a bit of time tomorrow sorting things out for my own sanity.

      Wow–25 sharpies!

      1. Yeah, that was me. I can’t remember who suggested that to me though. but it made a big difference in how I approached things. And it allowed me to get a few random ideas out of my head and committed enough to paper than I can return to them at a later time. Right now I’m been reading to see how other people set up the scenery. I can do dialog, but after that I get flustered trying to explain what I see in my head…looking at examples from books I enjoy (which happens to be a variety of genres) has been very enlightening!

        And the 25 sharpies? That’s after I threw out all the ones that weren’t working…only to find more in the car…I’m beginning to suspect husband brings them home from work and here they stay.

  39. Main Goal: A new book chapter.

    Last week’s goals: Write 1000 words and read 4/5 articles or book chapters; carve out 2 hours every day to do preliminary writing and reading.

    Accomplished: Almost nothing. I caught a particularly nasty bug immediately, which kept me off campus for days and put me horribly behind with teaching prep and service for the week. I did manage to write a new 1000-word abstract of the book project, to help me understand better how and where this chapter will fit. But still, I didn’t come close to meeting my goals.

    Commentary: I feel a little dispirited about the last week. But I’m trying just to push ahead and re-set the clock next week.

    Next week’s goals: The same again. 2 hours a day of reading/writing, and 1000 words of the chapter by the end of the week.

    Best wishes for Tiny Cat, and to you, DEH. I’m so sorry to hear of her distress.

  40. Main goal: Draft Chapter 5 of the dissertation.

    This week’s goal: read a chapter or an article, write 500 words.

    Accomplished: Not much. I wasted a bunch of time today trying to figure why the frack my Bluetooth keyboard wouldn’t connect to my iPad, and then I spent some time typing notes on the touch keyboard which is a pain. So I typed some quotations, and that’s about it.

    Commentary: I think I might try taking a page out of Z’s book and also take the advice of those who mentioned writing down all ideas AND re-reading them. Things are so busy right now that it’s easy for me to neglect the dissertation entirely, and no matter what, I will have very few large blocks or reading/writing time. So perhaps the important thing is not to forget/lose the ideas I’ve already genereated. With these things in mind, I’m going adjust my goals and focus on time spent rather that tasks accomplished.

    This week’s goal: Spend 15 minutes per day, six days per week, on dissertation work, for a total of 1.5 hours (if I miss a day, I’ll have to make it up, but 15 min seems makeupable). If nothing else, I can spend the 15 minutes re-reading notes, skimming back over chapter highlights, typing up flashes of brilliance. 😉

    I’m sending Tiny Cat a gentle scratch behind the earl

  41. Last week’s goal: Revise the first conference paper

    Accomplished: Done!

    Next goal: More desk-clearing – I want to finish reading the book and write the stupid book review, which I have promised myself will be my last that I will write before I finish my dissertation. I also want to get ahead in my lectures and try to write enough to get me through all of next week, if possible. That’s 10 1/2 lectures to write and I may be shooting for the stars here.

    Commentary: Revising a conference paper doesn’t sound like much, but, trust me, this week has been crazy and I’m amazed I pulled it off. I’ve been so overwhelmed, at only week 3 of the semester, that I forgot I was supposed to give a quiz to one class on Monday and had to reschedule it for Friday, which is probably better anyway because this particular class is really struggling. I am an awesome teacher. Ha.

    1. Congrats on meeting your goal!

      10 1/2 lectures sounds daunting, but reaching for the stars can be a really good strategy sometimes. Go for it!

  42. Good luck with the Tiny Cat… I hope the vet visits aren’t too stressful for any of you, and don’t beat yourself up too much if your productivity drops. It’s emotionally draining!

    So my last goal was to figure out the argument of the article.

    Accomplished! I have that done to my satisfaction (or at least enough to build a framework on, even if it changes.)

    Next goal: Build a framework. Strip the diss of anything relevant. Put it in the article in some sort of order.

    Analysis: I need a product goal as well as a process goal to get work done. Figuring out the article argument was great, but didn’t get any of it actually written. I need more concrete goals, and although this week is more logistical cut-and-paste than writing, I hope it will give me enough of a framework to start building more concrete goals.

  43. Sorry I’m late to report. I spent the weekend without internet again.

    Last week’s goal: 1. Reread P&P paper; 2. Read and take notes for TS paper; 3. Complete outline for HM presentation.

    Achieved: None of the above but I worked on my BE analysis and wrote an analytic memo and took notes on a completely different paper.

    Next week’s goal: Reread P&P paper and complete an outline for the TS intro

    Commentary: The last two weekends have involved social/family obligations that have left no time for work. I realized how much I rely on my weekends to get momentum on my writing. I also continue to amaze myself on how stubborn I can be about setting goals. It seems the more specific I am about what I’m going to work on, the more I end up working on something else. We’ll see how this next week goes. I should have a weekend and I’m trying to reduce my goals.

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