I’m not feeling inspired about a topic for this week.  Bribery?  Coffee shops?  Finding a writing buddy or writing group?  If any of those appeal to you, discuss away, or make some suggestions I can use next time.  Sorry—but anyway, here’s the list.  How are you doing?

Amstr: 1) get Ch2Article back to reader, 2) Ch3: 10/29 tasks, 3) Ch2: type in changes, do 5/29 tasks, 4) Ch4: SFD of abstract.
Another Postdoc: Redo introduction and review section with the intention of clearly communicating what I want to say. Maybe begin the conclusion.
Bavardess: Finish revising article per supervisors’ feedback and figure out where I’m going to send it first; Read a couple of important theory articles for my proposal.
cly: write an hour every day.
Comrade PhysioProf: not checked in.  Probably because he drank too many cups of not fucken tea.
Contingent Cassandra: Finish current freelance piece; spend at least a brief period (1 hour if possible, as little as 15 minutes as not) on J article on at least 2 days; keep thinking/planning.
Dame Eleanor Hull:  Schedule 2 hours/day for research/writing; submit fellowship application.
Dr. Virago: pound out the rest of the draft of my 2500 word article and make some plans for the review essay.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell: Spend four hours on article O, and add at least 500 words.
GEW: four 15 minutes sessions again.
highly eccentric: write on two days, again.
historisusan: I want to keep reading, and maybe get myself an outline of the essay I want to write. I also want to hold on to the feeling of joy that I had when I was in a beautiful place.
humming42: still write/research every day, and turn writing into a daily habit again.
JaneB: (2 weeks’ worth) 1) write conference talk. 2) Survive conference. 3) Meet with colleague in conference-town and help them with their analysis. 4) go through few-author paper and make extensive list of what needs doing 5) draft case for support for small grant. 6) make appointment with chiropractor about neck.
JLiedl: Polish and deliver the keynote.
John Spence: excused absence
kiwi2: finish my analysis for Paper Z. I will also be talking to my collaborator on Paper X on Wednesday, so a secondary goal will be to work on rewriting that paper again to get it closer to submission.
kiwimedievalist: Get books out of the library. Write a character sheet for the priest.
Kris:  read two papers and figure out structure and argument of paper.
luolin88: 1/2 hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Matilda: revise outline, mainly re-constructing my argument/ finishing writing a really rough first draft.
meansomething:  1) an hour on lyric essay; 2) 4 12-min sessions on poem sequence; 3) one submission.
metheist: write every day and stop caring so much about what happens, or does not happen, in the classroom.
Notorious Ph.D.: Finish researching and writing the Big Background.
nwgirl:  Finish revisions on this chapter.
Pika: proofread, finalise, upload and submit the proposal (deadline is at the end of the week). And then celebrate.
Pilgrim/Heretic: 2,162 words, and getting my groove back.
Premodern: no check-in
rented life: Write/expand/edit 3 times on book specifically. Reading book D. Record as needed.
Salimata:  keep working on very-first-article, 30 mins on (ideally) every day Mon-Fri.
Sapience: next batch of job apps. I may be late checking in as I will be out of town over the weekend.
Sisyphus: touch my chapter revisions every day this week.
sophylou: let myself do some writing every day.
tracynicholrose: Rewrite findings for LM paper; continue notes on P&P paper; work on TS paper edits.
Trapped in Canadia: get ILL books to write conference paper and write three pages of said conference paper, hopefully by writing for an hour each day.
Undine (Not of General Interest): 1500 words on major project. Finish last 1/2 of reviewing project.
What Now?: Write at least three days (ideally before school), and aim for another 1,000 words.
Widgeon:  Finish cutting down conference paper and compiling power point. Begin processing primary source material. Two full days of research plus 30 minutes on three additional days.
Z (Mictlantecuhtli/Profacero): 2 blocks before Sunday night.

135 thoughts on “Sept-Dec 2012 Writing Group, Week 8 Check-in

  1. Or we could just chime in on the “rebooting” post below, and check in here. I, at least, found the idea of “rebooting” appropriate to this stage of the semester (as witness my long comment).

  2. Last week’s goal: Write at least three days (ideally before school), and aim for another 1,000 words.

    Accomplished: Only two days, and 801 words.

    Commentary: Between writing letters of rec and doing major grading, I lost some writing steam this week, although I’m not beating myself up about it. And it’s a similarly busy week at school next week (Parents’ Day — ack!) … but I do have time this weekend, and I need to make good use of it. The habit of writing before school is working well, but by midweek I had run out of my easy-to-tackle bits and bobs. So this morning I actually got up to do my third before-school writing session of the week, and I couldn’t settle on what to write! So I need to do prep work this weekend so that I can take advantage of those before-school sessions. Plus, I need to take another look at the larger picture for the chapter in light of the work I’ve done the last couple weeks.

    Next week’s goal: Spend time this weekend sorting out my evidence and outline and prepping for my writing sessions during the week. Then, write at least three days (ideally before school), and aim for another 1,000 words.

    1. That’s smart – prep work is very helpful. I often have ideas about one section that pop into my head while I’m writing another, so instead of losing them (or worse, trying to work on both at once), it helps a lot to keep a section of “Here are ideas to work on later.” That saves me a lot of floundering around the next day.

      I’m impressed that you’re keeping up your early-morning sessions!

  3. The glow is faint and wobbly, but it’s here. My original goal was 2,000, adapted to 2,162 in an effort to top the grand accomplishments of a couple of weeks ago.

    Accomplished: around 1,700.

    Analysis: I am counting that as a success, because I also finished a book review that was driving me crazy. AND, more importantly, being low on my word count inspired me to write for a couple of hours tonight, which I don’t usually do on Fridays. That’s two hours of work that for sure wouldn’t have gotten done if I weren’t thinking of this very check-in. Plus it was a good lesson about Fridays – I usually sort of dick around on Friday afternoons, in that awful limbo of not really wanting to work but not really relaxing either, and it just feels icky. Now I can quit and get a beer and genuinely enjoy the rest of the evening!

    1. Sounds like some nice glow for the end of the week! (I had an image of fading glow sticks at the beginning there.) Here’s to success! Cheers!

    2. I would totally call this a success! Getting the book review off of your plate must feel great and will undoubtedly free up energy in the next weeks. And 1700 is a lot of words! I hope you enjoyed your beer last night.

    3. Oh, and I forgot the coming week’s goal. I’m planning to get a bunch of little pesky tasks cleaned up this weekend, and next week is the last clear one I have before two weeks of advising chaos, AND it’s the week before my birthday, so I’m going to up the ante: 2500 words. And a bonus celebration if I make it.

  4. It is Friday and I am just into the first of the 2 blocks for this weekend.

    Further goals for the week are 1 block a day M-F, for a total of 5 new blocks. Ideally each is 2.5 hours long but 30 minutes each is also good enough this week.

    Commentary: very little actual writing has been accomplished so far but the writing group has caused me to maintain some sort of research focus and more importantly identity, and this makes me do everything else better as well. The writing group is changing me back into some version of my old self at the speed of light.

    1. The writing group is changing me back into some version of my old self at the speed of light.
      That’s wonderful! Keep going, we’re all cheering you on!

  5. Goal:
    1/2 hour MWF

    Monday; 1 hour editing. trying not to obsess about perfect organization
    Wed. Nada
    Fri. 1/2 hour editing

    What worked: staying off the internet. On Monday and Friday, I put in my editing time before going online at all. I didn’t need to use any databases or Zotero so I could work offline if I wanted to.

    Also, the editing worked as productive procrastination from grading papers.

    Wednesday was an almost total loss: no writing, no grading, no running, plenty of time online.

    I was exhausted all week long, including Monday and Friday,
    so I am really not sure why I was able to make better choices (as they say in pre-school) those days than Wednesday. To be honest, I surprised myself by getting editing done on Monday, because I was falling asleep in the coffee shop before I started working.

    Next Goal:
    Write or edit for half hour on Monday and Friday.
    Take 30 minutes on Wednesday to think about conference paper coming up so I can get Interlibrary Loan requests in if necessary.
    Go to bed early enough to get at least 7 hours of sleep.

    1. I found not having wifi last weekend for my writing retreat was the biggest help. When I sat down, I couldn’t do my automatic clicking through various site (email, facebook, reader), so I just started working right away, sometimes with a freewrite to assess where I was and get moving. Since I had no choice about the internet, I ended up keeping a list of things I needed to do online with page #s where the info should go. Then when I got home I did all of it in one sitting. I think I may start turning off my wireless while I’m working. I may start by turning it off on my computer the night before, and if that doesn’t work, I may ask my husband to unplug the wireless router when he leaves for work. I am way, way to tempted by the internet. (Case in point, I should be editing my article right now, since it’s due tomorrow.)

      Congrats on some good work this week!

    2. Sounds like a great week. Congrats on being productive. I think that not going on the internet helped keep you focused. Sometimes there is such a thing as a good tired.

  6. Last week: proofread, finalise, upload and submit the proposal (deadline is at the end of the week). And then celebrate.

    Accomplished: grant proposal finished and submitted!!

    But the celebration is not going to happen, because of course, the day after submission I felt sick with a bad cold that is unrelenting. 😦

    Anyway, I’m very pleased that I managed to write and submit this, since it is a very large grant and the first time I’m trying for something this size. And I found the weekly accountability here very motivating to stay on track, which certainly made me more efficient, so thanks again Dame Eleanor for running this!

    Next up are a few weeks of teaching+marking, so I’ll keep writing goals low for now. My second general aim for this group is a smaller grant proposal due in December so for next week I’ll set a simple goal: get instructions for this smaller proposal from the funding agency website.

  7. Last goals: revise outline, mainly re-constructing my argument/ finishing writing a really rough first draft.

    Achieved: a half of the first draft

    Analysis: my argument is still under construction. it is frightening to think my research might finally reach nowhere. Anyway, time is running short, I do have to conclude what I have done with my materials…

    Next goal: finishing the first draft.

    1. Usually the argument is already in there somewhere. When I hit that point where it all seems to be going nowhere, I have to find someone to listen to me talk through the idea, what I’m trying to prove, and why I think it’s not working. Sometimes just talking through it helps. And sometimes I’m lucky enough to have someone in my field listen and ask me great questions that help focus my argument. Good luck!

    2. Hang in there Matilda. Last week I was where you are now – without a clearly constructed argument. Amstr has some great advice. I would add that I write out what I am trying to argue simply and clearly on a notepad and then reread my paper with my argument in mind. I rarely have anyone to listen to me, but sometimes I talk to myself out loud (and probably appear to be a crazy person). I agree that it is frightening that research can lead nowhere but don’t think about that. It will lead somewhere, even if it is to the next idea.

    3. Yep, I think there’s always *something* there. Can’t tell you how many times grad students and colleagues have been in despair, thinking they had nothing, and they tell me what they’re doing, and I say “Well, that’s your argument, right there.” Sometimes it’s just too close to your own nose to see clearly. 🙂

      1. One of my co-advisors replied to my final diss draft with a list of the arguments I made. One of the best gifts ever.

    4. Thank you very much for your warm comments and great advice, amstr, Another Postdoc, Pilgrum/Heretic and Dame Eleanor Hull! I’ll do my best and concentrate on finishing up my draft with your encouragements! Thanks!

  8. I am now coming down to the absolute deadline of potential-baby-arrival. A scare today made me realize that if I were to be trapped in the hospital for five days, at least one not-yet-done thing would cause huge, huge problems. So I got a draft done. Nothing like a panic to provoke good-enough work….

    Week 6 goals: EOCP sent to collaborator. LOI fully rough drafted (deadline after weekend). MC5 fully prepped and sent to collaborator. Review letter 2nd section drafted if necessary. Results of Study 1 (Short Paper) written BADLY.

    Achieved: In the two weeks, all but the last were achieved. LOI was submitted and a full review letter draft written; grant proposal #2 was revised; info sent to reviewers. I am very close to starting second study.

    New goals: Basically, severe rationing of priorities. Review document entirely done (as much as possible) by Monday. Grant proposal #2 fully revised into good-enough state on Monday and uploaded. Then extras: EOCP sent to journal. Results of Study 1 attacked with a practical eye so that I can do Study 3. If still no baby, Study 3 sent to collaborator (ask him if this is possible); otherwise have to wait until.. when? January? Feb?… Grant proposal #2 made better.

    Analysis: I’m in emergency mode, which makes things easy because there are actual real deadlines. I was very proud of getting the EOCP article done and out to my coauthor– a good-enough job really was good enough. I did, however, need to review my work over the last two years, and it’s pretty shocking to see how much I prioritized service, teaching, and even data collection over writing. This summer, with the help of the writing group, was the first time I’ve made real progress in ages and ages. I now have a paper that I will send off to a journal THIS WEEK– and it’s the first time I’ve had a first-author paper (other than chapters) under review for…. four? five years? Something totally unfathomable like that. It’s not that I’ve been “too busy”– it’s true that I’ve been busy, but I’ve been producing tons of other things, just not articles. Reams and reams of department policies, workshops for students, classroom activities. Articles… nothing unless I was a coauthor and thus categorized it as “helping someone.” Something definitely needs to change. I hope that this writing group & its future instantiations will help keep me on track.

    1. Congratulations on getting the article out the door! It sounds like you’re well-prepared for some time off and to get back into writing as a priority when you’re ready. I hope the new little one arrives on a convenient timetable!

      1. Thanks! Agree… ESPECIALLY before they are born. 😉 Much more trouble out than in… 😉 (I *am* looking forward to the baby, but am already sighing about the inevitable difficulties– I tend to want to be a full-time mother and full-time researcher at the same time.)

    2. Good luck with the baby! It is interesting too how real deadlines can really help focus! I was also struck by your comment on reviewing the last two years, and seeing how much you have prioritised other things. It is so useful to think about this, and why. I find myself doing the same. . .

      1. Thanks… I’ve been thinking about it and I think that for me, it’s a kind of over-emphasis on needing positive feedback. With teaching, committee work, even article reviewing, there’s relatively immediate feedback from (at least some) people that they appreciate what I’m doing. With article-writing, though I try to remember that after publication there will be some rewarding exchanges with people who are interested, I first have to run that horrible gauntlet of article-reviewers who seldom take the time to say that they “appreciate” your article before launching into its shortcomings!! Plus, of course, writing an article is much more complicated and difficult than writing a plagiarism policy. 🙂 But I think that I’ve been spending too much time on the things that make me feel immediately helpful and important… something to be aware of. I think I need to remind myself that I might be being super-helpful partially because of the ego-boost I get from feeling that I’ve done a really, really good job and having it recognized by others… which is easier to get from non-articles.

      2. I definitely have a lot of real honest felt responsibility as well, but the imbalance I’m seeing suggests that hidden, lingering teacher-pet-itis is partly to blame… and there’s no excuse for that at ALL. 🙂 But I think my need for appreciation is greater than other people’s (i.e. not necessarily a reason for other peoples’ imbalances).

    3. Ohmygosh – that last comment is exactly what gets in my way; I’d never thought of it quite like that. It’s easier to see with teaching and service, in that they’re more likely to have immediate deadlines and the gratification that goes with them, but it’s the same with writing. I really need to think about that. Again, that’s the great thing about this writing group; it gives some of that ego-boost on those long-term writing projects that otherwise don’t give you any along the way!

      1. Glad it struck a chord. 🙂 Again, my neuroses are not necessarily everyone’s… maybe DEH’s solution (realizing that others don’t need you quite as much as you (or even they!) think they do) is a key too? And yes yes, the writing group is so important for a little weekly gratification!!

  9. Last week’s goal: pound out the rest of the draft of my 2500 word article and make some plans for the review essay.

    Accomplished: I wrote another 1000 words on the draft and made it past the 2500-word limit, but not quite to the end of what I’d planned to write about. So obviously, once I get there, there will be editing and pruning to do! I thought a little about the review essay, but haven’t done much on it. Clearly I’m a “one thing at a time” kind of person.

    This week’s goal: finish the draft part of that 2500-word essay, maybe start revising it, and start something on the review essay.

    I’m still playing catch-up on the grading and other teaching-related work, so things have been a little hectic. Given that, I’m just glad I made *some* progress on the writing!

  10. Well, for the first part of the week, I managed to stay on track. I have been keeping to time goals a bit better than goals related to productivity. SO I think I’ll keep that up for this week.

    I also find that I write more productively away from the internet. While it is wonderfully useful to check bits and pieces, it is often a distraction. That having been said, it’s a distraction that I’m somewhat addicted to.

    The last couple of days were complete OBE (broken pipe, flooded apartment and cursing myself for never having learned plumbing vocab in any language). I’m hiding at a friend’s place at the moment, and hope things will be back to their usual state of chaos by Monday.

    As far as writing groups go, I am so grateful to Dame E! I find that writing is a rather lonely process. It is also a never-ending one. However, the weekly check-ins force me to re-evaluate on a regular basis.

    Hmm, goals for next week – again, an hour a day. Also, to figure out where I am (word count and draft wise) on my overall goal.

    1. I hear you about the internet. Sometimes I wish someone else had control over the internet and could turn it off for me. I have used Freedom and SelfControl for Macs, which block access to the internet for an amount of time that I control. It has been helpful, but part of the problem is that I have to initiate their use and sometimes the distraction of the internet is better than the agony of my article.

      1. Yep, I know the feeling well. I have tried foxing myself to a part of campus without wifi, but I get frustrated by not having a distraction ;/ I’ve never tried SelfControl (and at times I’m lacking in the non-computer-esque variety).

        My current solution is to try to avoid checking email etc for 25 minutes at a time. The method I use to keep track is, (blush) internet-based (www.mytomatoes.com)

      2. Well, I on the other hand wish I had had the Internet when I was really stuck on a project. Had I asked the questions I had to the Internet, I would have gotten answers and made decisions that would have gotten me tenure where I was and-or a better job. So I don’t even care about being an Internet addict now … although I am fairly good at moderation in all things, so perhaps I am an exception here.

  11. I had a much better week than the last.

    Last Week’s Goal: Redo introduction and review section with the intention of clearly communicating what I want to say. Maybe begin the conclusion.

    Accomplished: I redid the introduction and the review section. I have clearly communicated my argument (I think, but we’ll see what the reviewers say in the future).

    For the next goal I’m following amstr’s advice found here http://writingaccount.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/writing-trick-3/.

    New goal: print out article and read through closely. Mark what needs to be changed and make those changes.

    This writing group is awesome. That is all.

  12. Last Goal: Finish cutting down conference paper and compiling power point. Begin processing primary source material. Two full days of research plus 30 minutes on three additional days.
    Accomplished: I accomplished two full research days, and some work on three additional days. The conference paper is done, but the power point is not. And I pulled together a talk I gave this morning at Seneca Falls (yeah, women’s history!). Still avoiding the primary sources for secondary ones and I need to examine why.
    Next Goal: Write the comment for the conference I am also presenting at this week. Complete (or possibly abandon) the powerpoint.
    Commentary: I too am finding this writing group enormously helpful in getting me to revisit my research every day. That might mean reading through some sources in my office when I have just a bit of time, or making sure I meet my basic goals. But I find that my project is in my brain more consistently, which means I am jotting down notes in my “ideas” file and processing what I’ve been reading. I’m looking forward to the conference as it will be the first time (yikes) that I am presenting anything from the new project. I’m hoping it will give me some help about future directions.

  13. Goal: 1500 words and finish review project.
    Completed: none of it. Zip. Nada. Does spending 14-hour days on campus this week count? I don’t think so–not for promotion, anyway, and not for moving the project forward.

    Next week: the 1500 words I didn’t write this week.

  14. This week has been OBA–Overwhelmed By Article. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done, but other things have had to slide.

    Last week’s goals: 1) get Ch2Article back to reader, 2) Ch3: 10/29 tasks, 3) Ch2: 5/29 tasks, 4) Ch4: SFD of abstract

    Accomplished: 1) YES! I’m currently in the middle of the final proofread, 2) 5 or so easy ones done, 3) 15/29 (because I had to fix them for the article), 4) very SFD, but done.

    Next week’s goal: 1) Ch2Article to book editor (finally!), 2) rework Ch 2–mashup article with new good chapter stuff that didn’t fit in, 3) Ch 3: 5 tasks, 4) read one book for Ch. 4

    Commentary: This week has been sucked up by article work. Most of what I’ve been working on will apply to my chapter as well, and this is the week to start fitting both parts together. I’d like to work on it while the material is still fresh. It’s tempting to switch fully to Ch. 3 to have a break from Ch. 2, but I should probably hold off for a week. I’ll probably also need a day or so to clean up after the end-of-the-article frenzy.

    I’m surprised to be pretty happy with the article. This is the fifth time I’ve rewritten the same material, and evidently, the fifth time was the charm. (It also helped immensely to have Editor Friend work with me on organization. I’ll post more about that process on the blog soon.) I thought the article would end up being an embarrassment in my publishing record, but I think it’s okay. Not perfect, but it does its job presentably. Good enough, I say.

    I mentioned in a comment above that the thing that made the biggest difference on my writing retreat was lack of internet. (Probably alongside lack of my own non-writing projects, kids, laundry, responsibilities, etc.) I think I’m going to try turning my computer wifi off the night before to help me get started in the mornings. (I’ll post more about my retreat on the blog, after I get this article turned in.)

    1. Hurrah for a good-enough article! As I wrote below, I think I might be getting better at recognizing “good enough,” and that that might be a useful skill. I’ll also be very interested to read about your experiences with your editor friend.

      My grad school roommate and I periodically contemplated embroidering “a done paper [later dissertation] is a good paper[dissertation]” on pillows or a sampler or something. But of course that would have been procrastination.

  15. Last week’s goal:/b>Finish current freelance piece; spend at least a brief period (1 hour if possible, as little as 15 minutes as not) on J article on at least 2 days; keep thinking/planning.

    Accomplished:Finished freelance piece; spent one short session with J article

    Analysis:I posted a rather long ramble/reflection under the “resetting” post, below, which I won’t repeat here, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to juggle freelance writing (which is mildly academic, but nothing that will really strengthen my c.v.; the main reason I’m doing it is that it brings in much-needed additional income) and true research/writing of the sort that is eligible for publication in peer-reviewed journals and similar venues (but does not, of course, bring in money immediately, and may or may not help my career in the long run, given the current state of the job market), all while holding down a 4/4 load. If there’s a way to do both, I haven’t figure it out yet, though I am at least feeling fairly familiar with and confident about my ability to do both kinds of writing, which is probably a good thing, and perhaps a step in the direction of successful juggling. The writing-to-deadline involved in the freelance pieces may also be inculcating some habits that will be handy for the scholarly writing; I’m finding myself more willing to throw things that don’t fit out in the interests of producing a finished, submittable if not perfect, piece.

    Goal for next week:Work on J article on 2-3 days, even if for a short period of time.

      1. NBD. As I said to someone else, regular work, even for very short periods, keeps the project in your mind and limits start-up time, so it will mean more writing done per week.

  16. last goal: write every day

    accomplished: managed close to half the time

    next goal: same goal with hope for different results

    commentary: I am impressed and encouraged by the productivity so many have reported! You inspire me. My recent conference travel flipped my schedule, even though I didn’t have a time change: I used to do well to write 9-11p, and now I struggle to stay up to 11. I don’t seem able to do much after dinner at all these days. So I’m working on giving myself permission to write in the morning. I hope that will be more productive.

    1. Work with your body’s rhythms, whatever they are. You have my permission—indeed, my order, if that helps—to try writing at a different time! And since I have a doctorate, that’s a doctor’s order!

  17. Last week’s goal: To finish my analysis for Paper Z. After that, I will be talking to my collaborator on Paper X on Wednesday, so my secondary goal will be to work on rewriting that paper again to get it closer to submission.

    Accomplished: On Paper Z: nothing. Ughh. This is getting to be a problem. I need to really focus. I talked to my collaborator briefly on Wed (10 minutes, and got a list of things to revise!). I felt a bit depressed about it for a couple of days- papers just seem to take SO LONG to write, and sometimes it feels like it is impossible to get things speeded up. However, I am taking heart that now I have a list of things I can do, and will do, because I am determined to get this paper submitted this year (and preferably in November!).

    Next goal: To finish my analysis for Paper Z. And to do my revisions on Paper X this week, to keep my collaborator in touch and interested in this paper. I have yet more marking to do this coming week, so one challenge will be to keep that under control and make time for the writing.

    Commentary: Marking completely took out the first two days of the week. I also had four never before given lectures, and a further 10 hours of contact time, so it was pretty busy. Still, I know I avoided my analysis- I couldn’t get into the head space. I also spent some of the week feeling sorry for myself, feeling as though my career was slipping away due to a lack of publications. I do this self-flagellating from time to time, and then have to pick myself up from the floor and focus on perseverance, and the talents that I bring to my job. At least I got back into the space by the end of the week. Onward! I bought two more types of tea this weekend, so will now look forward to next week, armed with my favourite writing accessory.

    1. On avoidance and head space: set yourself a very small and easy goal, like “read one page of Paper Z” or “fix one sentence,” something you can do in 5-10 minutes before going back to lecture prep or marking. Just so you keep the project in mind (minimize start-up time!) and so have have done something rather than letting it turn into a huge hulking scary THING.

      If it’s any help, I did a bit of the self-flagellation last week, too (publications too thin, too many conference papers that aren’t [yet] parts of articles or books, what have I done, how did this happen), but the only thing to do is Keep Moving Forward. We cannot change the past. We can change the future.

    2. Totally identify with all of this. Analyses in particular always seem to take four times as long as they should. The only thing that’s helped me personally (that I learned by doing this writing group over the summer) is writing down really specific and ACHIEVABLE goals- then I get things done and also feel a sense of accomplishment. Hee hee, I just spent almost 10 minutes searching for a specific podcast I thought was relevant, before I realized that I might be engaging in some ego-stroking over-helpfulness!! So here is the link to the whole compilation of a really great (IMO) set of podcasts about “Getting Things Done,” which I do think has good practical advice… http://www.43folders.com/2006/11/28/productive-talk-comp

    3. Thank you so much for your support. It really helps. And I will be trying your idea this week Dame E – one small sentence, one quick look… It sounds good.

  18. Goal: Read two papers and figure out paper structure.

    Accomplished: yes! I felt this week for the first time in quite some time I got some meaningful thinking done as well as necessary writing, and am feeling engaged with the paper again.

    Next goals: Write up the introduction and theoretical framework sections.

    Commentary: I took inspiration from the Dame and did a reboot this week. This took toe form of reinstating important things I like to do (exercise, gardening), and reinstating my previous approach to work, which was/ is I work to my priorities not other people’s demands. This doesn’t always leave anyone happy, but I am happier – and let’s face it, people are often unhappy even when I subjugate myself to others’ demands. Now, I have more control over my writing and other aspects of my work and just as importantly, I feel I have that control.

  19. goal: Write/expand/edit 3 times on book specifically. Reading book D. Record as needed.

    Accomplished: nothing on the book. At all. I did write/fix up two small piece to submit to a local publication.

    Analysis: things just weren’t happening this week. The personal stuff took priority, as I continue to try to figure out how to balance it all.

    New goal: work on book 3 times. Continue reading book D. Record as needed.

  20. Last week’s goals: Rewrite findings for LM paper; continue notes on P&P paper; work on TS paper edits.

    Accomplished: Complete draft of the LM paper sent off to co-authors; most of TS paper edits completed; no work on P&P notes

    Analysis: I seem to be able to achieve 2 out of my 3 goals lately. Sometimes, like this week, I do more on one goal than I anticipated. I’m fine with this as long as things are moving forward. I am spending a lot of time on doctoral students’ dissertations this semester and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. I’m happy I haven’t put my own writing by the wayside but I have so many papers I’d like to get out, that it can get frustrating at times.

    Next week’s goals: Finish TS edits; finish notes on P&P paper; final memo on BE analysis

    1. I’ve found I have to give one task priority during the week, and then the other ones can be my productive procrastination. I do find it pretty hard to focus on more than one writing project during the week.

      Congrats on getting the complete draft sent off to co-authors!

  21. Last week’s goal: Finish researching and writing the Big Background.

    Did I get it?: No… but the week ain’t over yet.

    Analysis: Holy crapola, but this week has seemed nonstop. There have been some pretty awesome things going on that I can’t talk about without potentially busting my anonymity (pretty thin, but whatevs), and I had to finish a lump o’grading. Still, it’s no huger than most weeks, and less so than some. But still, what I’m going to focus on is the fact that, though progress has been slow, it’s been there.

    Goal for next week: Finish up researching and writing the Big Background, and read at least three items (1 book + two articles) for “cities” sections.

    As for a topic: how about hitting the reset button? I know that my goals, while modest, have had to be scaled back a bit already.

  22. Last week’s goals: get ILL books to write conference paper and write three pages of said conference paper, hopefully by writing for an hour each day

    Accomplished: Well, ILL hates me right now and the books I was expecting still have not arrived. I am trying not to freak out. I managed to write 1 1/2 pages of the paper, but without those books, I’m kind of…screwed. I have another angle I could take if the books don’t arrive by Tuesday at the latest. In the meantime, though, all but two of my lectures for the week are done, which is very exciting. All of my free time will be devoted to finishing marking exams and writing this conference paper.

    Goal for next week: write the conference paper and make it brilliant so I can get a job and get out of adjunct hell.

    Yes, the conference is that big and networking could help me get a job or post-doc, so I’m really feeling the pressure to impress. Pressure makes diamonds, right?

    1. While you’re waiting for ILL, it might work to have a rough draft that works through what you hope the ILL books will give you. (e.g., fill in paragraphs with things like “[brilliant quote that says XXX/]. It might at least help you work through the structure, and then you can adjust as necessary.

      I hope they arrive soon!

  23. Goal met, but only sort of. I did better earlier in the week, but other things piled up and, to be honest, the idea of “letting” myself write didn’t work out all that well.

    Goal for next week: same as last week. Also, I need to schedule a research day (we’re allowed a very small number of days per semester to focus on research, and I need to take one to get myself on track).

    I am, as I suspected I would be, really struggling with the 9-5 problem– I don’t have energy for doing much else after work. Also, what I’m writing isn’t quite really what I “should” be doing for this job, and the disparity between what I “should” be writing and what I want to write is bothering me. So the idea of “letting” myself work on this project ended up having a significant backlash– made it feel too much like a guilty pleasure. Also, it is bothering me to feel like I have no one to talk with about this project — I am extroverted and do best if I can talk through what I’m doing from time to time, and am realizing that I really don’t have that where I currently am (one of a number of reasons for being on the job market).

    I could definitely use a reset button (among other things).

    1. Sophylou, I can relate to so much of what you outline here. My 9-5 leaves little brain left. I also do not write what all my colleagues do, and sometimes feel guilty and isolated.

      I can offer that I do better when I write in the morning or at lunch, so that I still have a brain. As for the isolation, I wish there was some way to connect all the isolated folks, but I’ve not had the lightbulb come on yet.

      1. Oh, I wish I could write in the morning, but I’m a chronic insomniac and will never, ever be enough of a morning person to make that work. Night is my best time for writing, which in theory should sort of work with a 9-5 job, but only works in reality if I’m able to muster up the energy to detach myself enough from the day and get going.

      2. Yes, it does mena one has to be a morning person, which not everyone is, certainly. I have suffered from insomnia for periods of time–you have my sympathies!

        Perhaps if decompression from the day job is what you need, you could find something that would help you transition. My sister showers when she gets home from work, as a sign of a new part of the day.

    2. I understand the disparity between what you should write and what you want to write. It’s not easy to not feel guilty, but remember if you don’t get the “want” writing out of your head, it keeps interrupting the “should” writing. I struggled with this all summer and finally caved to what I wanted to write and then my head was clear enough to do the other stuff and I can alternate between the two projects.

      Also, fellow night person here. The 5-6:30 time of night is worst for me, so I try to do mindless relaxing things–dinner, mindless TV, etc. Sometimes I need longer, sometimes I don’t, but then I am able to do a little work. If I’m really wiped I just do “mindless” work–I have pages of notes, etc that need to be typed, or hand written additions that I can type in. That’s simple enough to do when tired without really engaging in new writing. Can you balance what you do at night for those days your more wiped?

  24. last week’s goal: keep working on very-first-article, 30 mins on (ideally) every day Mon-Fri.

    goal met: sort of, after rebooting to work on conference paper instead

    analysis: I realized that with teaching not getting any lighter for the rest of the semester, I wouldn’t be able to write the conference paper I have the deliver next month if I didn’t start writing it now–so I abandoned the article, for now, and started outlining the conference paper. It’s good insofar I really need to get this thing written, and I don’t seem to have enough time to write both the conference paper and the article, next to teaching. But of course the bad thing is that I can’t seem to write the article when also teaching and writing conference papers, and I figure that only hoping next semester will be better is not going to change the scenario much–so I need to think about ways of fitting in the article-writing business.

    goal for next week: reading 1 book and 2 articles I need for conference paper, write notes; plus find/organize older notes that might be useful

      1. This is something I really struggle with – transitioning conference papers to articles. I get great feedback on conference papers, but then struggle to incorporate them well into my dissertation or transform them into an article. I bought “WYJA in 12 Weeks” but haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to help us grad students and ECR people with this? I’d love to hear them!

    1. Dr Crazy did a post some time back about how she plans 2-3 conference papers to be the sections of an article; that helped to change my thinking about conference papers. Still, in my field/at my uni, conference papers are really not where it’s at, and I need to stop going to conferences and just write articles where I know what size they’re going to be from the beginning. Early in my career, I’d get a good idea and it would turn out to be a good 10-page conference paper idea I couldn’t do anything more with. Then there was the paper that, when I started to article-ize it, turned into a book (the next thing to work on after the MMP). Try planning an article first, and then see if there’s some chunk of it that could be a conference paper. Not the other way around.

  25. Previous goal:Get books out of the library. Write a character sheet for the priest.

    Achieved? Well, I thought about the priest, on at least two occasions.

    Next goal: Academic: revise article and resubmit. Non-academic, get the books out of the library, before my card expires!!

    Commentary: After a week from hell, I’m finally free of serious marking. Not totally – I have 12 first year essays to mark on Tuesday, but that should be all. A week or so ago, I got my article back from a post-grad journal which had promised a 4-6 week turn around. (Article returned after about a year!) This article was submitted for their previous edition, where it fit the topic, but when they got a new editor, she managed to put my article through the system again. The problem is, this is exactly where I was last year with this article: revise these bits and we’ll pop it in the next issue. I’m not sure I trust them to do what they say, but I do want one article published! So. while I’m revising, I’m not being hopeful.

    1. Revise and resubmit- it can be difficult to maintain momentum after such a long pause. Is this the right journal for your paper? Or do you just want to get the job done and move on? I have found it helpful on a couple of occasions to email the editor and ask for progress reports when a manuscript has seemed to fall into a black hole- this seems to work well where there are delays that are not typical of the journal/ area.

      1. It’s not really the right journal, but I’m just trying to get something published now. The momentum is LOOONG gone!
        Believe me, there were LOTS of follow up emails, but the first editor was apparently a lying @#%$.

        If you want to chat sometime, email me at kiwimedievalist [at] hoarde [dot] net.

  26. 1. Last week’s goal: Work on article O for at least four hours, adding at least 500 words.

    2. Accomplished: Yes, with 632 words added.

    3. Analysis: The reboot is an attractive idea for me. I made some interesting self-discoveries this past week. First and most damaging, I fall into mind-numbing computer games when stressed. The first part of the week, I spent far too much time staring at the computer, avoiding working through what had me stressed and what I was feeling.

    Second, I worry far too much about what people think. I made some administrative decisions that thrust my staff out of their comfort zone, and some of them are reacting by being chilly and distant. Worse, their friends in other departments all joined the freeze-out. Suddenly, I found myself mentally facing first-grade again, where no one liked the weird kid.

    However, I thank the stars and firmament for this group! Friday afternoon, I was feeling bruised and ignored. I started to open up my addictive computer game, when I realized I had to report to this group. I opened up article O instead, and kept refining the notes I had made while at the Morgan. I had touched it everyday, and had read a couple of ancillary articles, but i hadn’t put anything of myself into it. By the end of the afternoon, i had written 632 words.

    Writing is a lonely business, and I have heightened the isolation by being a chair and ticking off my colleagues. I want to work through a reboot, because I don’t want to let my hurt feelings sour me. Although it is not entirely an apt analogy, I keep hearing the lyrics for “Looking for love in all the wrong places” in my head. I need to establish friendships and networks elsewhere. I need to value my work before I can convince anyone else to value it. Hmm, lots of deep thinking ahead.

    4. Write at least 632 words on article O. Touch it every day for at least half-an-hour.

    1. Yay for 632 words!!

      And I so hear you on the chair-staff issue. I’ll probably end up being chair of my dept. in a few years, and I’m dreading it for precisely that reason. If it helps, it’s the situation they’re cranky with, not you as a person. My favorite lesson is one I think I got from Dean Dad, who commented something like “As an administrator, I simply assume that at any given time, a dozen people will hate me. The trick is knowing which ones.”

    2. You’ve identified some things to work on, and that’s great. See if there’s something else you can do to relieve stress—but on the other hand, if you really need the computer games, or they’re the best solution at the time (if you can’t leave the office, say), then play them, and be mindful of the point at which you start feeling better. And they might be exactly the right thing. I read something awhile ago about using Tetris after a traumatic event to help stop the development of PTSD: something about interfering with the storage of traumatic memories. So maybe you’re self-medicating.

      1. Interesting idea, Dame Eleanor. I had wondered why conquering a level in the game felt so good–self-medicating would explain a lot. I do think I need to find other avenues, as you say, but I appreciate the new look at the games.

  27. Previous goals: 1) an hour on the lyric essay; 2) 5 12-minute sessions on poems; 3) one submission.

    Accomplished: 2 12-minute sessions on the poems.

    Next goal: The same damned thing: 1) an hour on the lyric essay; 2) 5 12-minute sessions on poems; 3) one submission.

    Analysis: This was a busy week, and I let all of those apparently urgent things take my attention away. The bad news is that the next two weeks will be even busier. And yet–we’re talking 2.5 hours, maybe 3, out of 112 waking hours in the week. Can I really not carve those out? Really? We’re talking less than three percent of my waking hours (I just did the math). Not to mention that I don’t really sleep 56 hours a week anyway. I spend about 7 hours in the car, commuting! I drive more than I write? Well, I guess I knew that.

    So here’s my plan: I have grading, prepping, and a college rec to write today, but I’m going to work for at least 25 minutes this afternoon (including one 12-min poem session) and also start to figure out what needs to go in the submission. Monday is awful, probably won’t write, but I will work out before school so that I have more energy. Tuesday we have a meeting of the creative writing group at SA and I’ll write with them for at least 20 minutes, again including one poem session. I will also do the submission on Tuesday, or at least make some progress on it. And I’ll go to bed early because I’ll be tired from teaching Monday night and waking up early Tuesday–so on Wednesday I can get up and write for 12 minutes before school and work out after school. Thursday, the Snork Maiden has a swim meet after school and I’ll stay around for that–and I’ll write for the last 12 minutes of my work day before I go to the pool. I doubt I’ll be able to squeeze it in on Friday, but I can get in my last 12-minute session and the rest of the time on the lyric essay when I bring the Snork Maiden to school on Saturday for a rehearsal–and I can also finish the submission then if I haven’t done it during the week. My third workout of the week can be either Friday evening or Saturday morning–more likely the latter, since I am usually up early on Saturday and will have more energy then.

    Perhaps making my plans this specific will help me this week. I hope so! Good luck and good writing to you all.

  28. I’m here! My goal was to spend 15 minutes a day on the article, and I didn’t get to that. On the other hand, I am caught up on grading and had a very nice weekend which included taking a hike and looking at the fall leaves! (yay, leaves! I hope everyone gets a little time to rejuvenate by enjoying some fall views next week.)

    Today I spent 30 minutes looking at my chapter and then needed a nap to recover from figuring out where I was in revising it. Just now I finished an hour of work on it. Yay!

    I still want to try and put 15 minutes a day in on the chapter this week, even if it means I only re-read the passage to remember where I am. Actual tasks, however, include 1) finishing the outlining and 2) reorganizing paragraph 6. And then figuring out what is vaguely “off” about the rest of the paragraph order. I hope that having some fairly concrete tasks will help me actually work on them rather than just stare at the page … or avoid staring at it!

    In more cheerful news, even Darwin had days when he hated his work and his writing and was pissy:


    That cheers me up to no end! I think every page of warm-up writing for my dissertation started out with swearing and complaints about how much I hate getting started.

  29. Goal for the last two weeks: Index 30 pages.

    Accomplished: 30 pages indexed!

    Next week’s goal: (a) index 20 pages; (b) finish reviewing a possible source for my edition.

    Commentary: Just having to report in, even with nothing tangible at stake, is a good motivation for meeting goals that might otherwise be a bit too much trouble. Reporting in to the writing group is proving very helpful! I also realised, I am not using my time to read and make notes on the train to index – for that I need the laptop or a computer. So goal (b) can be accomplished there without needing to cut into the indexing time.

  30. Goal for last week: write every day

    Accomplished: no, but I got time in on at least 3 days

    Next week’s goal: write every day

    Commentary: I have officially missed the deadline to defend my dissertation this semester, but I am OK with it. People continue to tell me that I am not a failure for taking more than a year to write. The posts from other people over the last few weeks has really encouraged me to be willing to accept small steps. I feel good about that. Thanks everyone. In a sense, I am doing a reboot for the semester–turning over a new leaf with my classes and writing. Something that I have finally accepted? I can no longer work at Starbucks. I tried Saturday morning and it was really hard. I think that Costa Coffee and Cafe Nero have ruined it 🙂

  31. Goal: read some more articles.
    Accomplished: some reading but mostly today. The good thing was that I go asked for a title for a big plenary talk I’m giving in March, and realized that I wouldn’t have the focus I thought the article would have, but I could combine them. So I’m thinking my way forward. And one of the articles I read this afternoon suggested a really interesting line of analysis. It may be a dead end, but I think I have some ideas to run with. The one problem with this is that I’d accumulated all these books and articles on topic a, and now will have to work out a new set for topic b. (Though even as I write, I wonder about the connections…) but there’s enough overlap; and I will do an indep study with a grad student related to this in the spring.

    Commentary: I’m in advanced panic mode right now. I am the organizer for a conference here Thursday and Friday, and if it happens, it will be because of me. Like Elizabeth Ann Mitchell, I tend to play computer games when stressed. I am constantly worried about the details I have forgotten. And I will forget them… (just remembered one more.). Two weeks later, I am program chair for a national conference. So I also have my report for that to finish.

    Given this week, I’ll keep to my goals – keep reading. If I can keep myself reading and thinking, I’ll be very happy! I feel as if I’ve made progress though there are no words on the page yet.

    1. Wow – congratulations on the plenary talk + conference organizing + program chairing! Those are great professional accomplishments – and very nice to have done, once they’re over. 🙂

  32. I’m so sorry for missing last week!

    Goal for last week: 10 pages of the article.

    Accomplished: I’m still not there. I feel at the moment as though I’m drowning in other work. I did manage to send out a different essay, draft a research proposal, and make some headway on getting my first pre-tenure review materials together, so I know I wasn’t entirely unproductive, but what I did manage to accomplish feels more like basic maintenance than progress.

    Goals for next week: Clear other things off my desk: 2 stacks of papers and another set of midterms, final versions of pre-tenure review materials (due the week after), a couple of grant applications. If I can get some reading in for the article, great, but otherwise this will have to be my reboot week. Also: try to get more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

    Good luck with your goals, everyone! And see you next week.

  33. I should have checked in this morning when I was just hanging around. The afternoon went to social life and I knew it would. Anyway.

    Last goal: Schedule 2 hours/day for research/writing; submit fellowship application.

    Achieved: fellowship app gone; 2 hours on M,W,Sa, 1 hour on T,Th,F. I’m pretty pleased, particularly as home days this week had time-eating appointments and phone calls, but I took a book with me to the appointments and got some reading done.

    So, new goal is much the same: schedule 2 hours/day for research/writing, where Thursday’s task is just reading unless I’m dying to do something else.

    Commentary: I’m back to working on the MMP, and I am in the happy stage where I am moving big chunks of text from other documents into a new organization to see if it will work (and making notes about other things that I need to know—those will become research tasks to be scheduled). It means that writing progresses rapidly; I’m already at 3700 words in the new document because I’m doing only a little new writing and the rest is chunk-moving. I have wondered if I’m maybe telling the story wrong. I want it to be about manuscripts, and some people are trying to take over. But I think dividing the article into sections will take care of that, without doing a total overhaul.

    1. That’s great to actually do an hour at least a day. And the sense that it’s coming together quickly must be very satisfying!

  34. Well, I met my goal of writing on two days, but I’m not happy with how much I produced, or lack thereof. I made a start on a paper and on my personal statement for grad apps, but i didn’t manage to tick off anything on any of those tasks.

    This week, the same process goal (write on two days of the week). Plus some necessary liaising: I must email Drs J and D at least, if either the article or the applications are to proceed as planned.

  35. Last week’s goal: Four 15-minute sessions.

    Accomplished: I did one 15-minute session and one 45-minute session.

    Analysis: I’ve been in grading hell, and I’ll be here for a while longer. We’re also still on a major push to get ready for a big thing on campus (all part of the ongoing crisis) in just over a week. With all of this going on, I was glad to get in a little bit of time, but I have to say that it didn’t feel very productive.

    In the first few weeks of my 15-minute a day commitment, I was writing on most of the days, and the minutes felt productive. Lately, I’ve been reading and outlining instead, and also typing up notes, and it’s hard to feel as if I’m making progress in those minutes. I guess it’s still better than total neglect.

    Next week’s goal: four 15-minute sessions.

    1. The reading and outlining still has to be done, right? So that’s productive work. You can’t be a good academic writer without the support work of reading, planning, and so on. Remember: reading is the humanities’ lab time!

    2. Writing does feel more productive, but DEH is right that the reading and notes are essential. You will thank yourself when you start writing. (I had the problem this weekend of having to add in about 10 sources to my bibliography that I had not yet added to my bibliography program. The ones I had added, the program spit out in a nicely formatted and appropriately styled document. So it pays to do the little things.)

      I hope the big thing on campus and the prep for it goes smoothly.

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