Still with us?  Have you got into a groove?  Why do we think of “getting into the groove” as good, but “getting into a rut” as bad?  Is it just that listening to music (you know, grooves on a record . . .  phonograph needle dropping into the groove . . .  I keep telling you I’m old!) is supposed to be good, while toiling down a dirt road that’s dried into ruts from having carts driven through the mud sounds unpleasant?  Could you switch your metaphor from rut to groove and enjoy it more?  Or would you rather be making progress, even bumpy, dusty progress?  I guess the idea is that you’re stuck in a rut, not going anywhere, whereas in a groove you go round and round, getting from the beginning of the song to the end.

But in mid-June, it seems rather appropriate to be trundling down a dusty, rutted road, and to be forced to go on because of the wheels’ place in the ruts.  It’s a pleasant, sunny road, with some shade trees, and at the end of the day there will be a little town with fresh water, good food, wine, and beds with clean sheets, so let’s just go on.  What will you be working on, back in the wagon bed?

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
polish dissertation for September defense
write review article
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
submit Article H
combine two conference papers into one article
revise article draft for publication
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
write Conference Paper B
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Revise and resubmit Floyd
revise paper for submission as article
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
finish article for Big Name Journal
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

43 thoughts on “Maygust 2013 writing group, week 6

  1. After all the cake at Queens birthday it took me a while to get back on the writing track – but I got back:
    the aim was to write 2-3 pages of a research summary and I finished that yesterday. Plus I wrote a few paragraphs about my teaching philosophy, which will be supplementary material for the fancy project. So, I’m quite satisfied this week. And I continued the “weekend with cake tradition” – it’s amazing how well I can write when there is a big piece of triple-chocolate cake sitting beside my computer.
    Aims for next week: polishing the research and teaching summaries and sending them off for pre-assessment. Starting on the long research-project version – maybe 3 pages.

      1. The “advantages” of the Commonwealth.
        But I think it should be adaptable to US-cake and US-weekends – give it a try.

  2. My goal for last week was to prep for and conduct interviews on Friday afternoon, which I accomplished (and had lots of fun!). Otherwise the week was a bit of a bust, with the drama about this project continuing. (Details as always on my blog) But I dealt with the drama as best I could and am trying to move on. And even more importantly, this past week at last saw the end of the very long, very exhausting 2012-13 school year!

    For this week, I’m continuing the task- rather than process-orientation: My goal is to work through a specific sub-topic and write up the paragraph or two about it that’s needed. (My mother-in-law is visiting for a few days, and I’m also helping a friend paint her new house, so I’m deliberately keeping the goal easily within reach.)

  3. If all goes well tomorrow, I will resubmit tiny paper and turn my attention to big paper. I have an email all written up to go to the editor of the big paper journal, but I want to have a full list of everything I want to do to that paper before I send it off. We’ll see.

    Process goal, at least 30 min a day, but I imagine I’ll spend more time tomorrow, just because I’m a little anal like that. There may be misplaced commas! Or more ands that are supposed to be ans! Such things must be ferreted out.

  4. As planned, I did no work this week. I guess I achieved my goal, then.

    This week: Start H (M is probably not useful to me at the moment; I’ll put it on hold). Read 3 articles. *Reread G (is it done?). Notes on RB.

    [*G is sort of a different project, but, because it’s closely related to the summer project and is helping me to figure out what exactly I’m doing with myself here, I’m allowing it to weasel its way in.]

  5. I missed last week, which was OK since I mostly prepped for my summer course. I did putter and get about 500 words written. I have shifted gears and am now revising the chapters I have finished so I can clarify my argument and get a running start again on the last chapter. Today a friend offered to read/edit for me, and I plan to take her up on it.

    This week: Finish editing chapter 1 and send that to my friend.

    1. Sounds like a very productive week! 500 words is nothing to sneeze at.

      The best part, though, sounds like finding a friendly reader. I find it really motivating to have other eyes on my work. I hope it goes well!

      1. Thank you so much for that. I used to be able to sit down and crank out more than that in a day, but it is just so frustrating with my thoughts going in different directions.

        The conversation with my friend has helped because she knows the work that I have produced in the past. Just as I encouraged her when writing her dissertation to be herself and not worry about her readers, she did the same for me yesterday. It was a definite boost of confidence to try and get my own voice back.

        Look luck on your revisions!!

      2. We’re not all Anthony Trollope. It depends on what stage of a project you’re working on, and how clear your thoughts are, and various other things. 500 words is worthwhile, and when your thoughts are clarified, you will no doubt get back to being able to do that in a day. But sometimes the mental work is different from the word-count work.

  6. This week my goal was to get back to reading and taking notes on an undefined number of articles for the Methods Paper. I managed to do two articles and I really did them this evening just so the week wouldn’t be a total bust.

    My 13 year old dog has taken a turn for the worst and I’ve spent the last few days trying to keep her alive until my husband comes back from a business trip. He is back tomorrow. We will take her straight to the vet and say good-bye. I really haven’t had the mental energy to read articles.

    Next week I’m leaving for a conference in Toronto. Most of the week will be spent preparing for that (have to chop 5 minutes off of 2 papers) and then I’ll be consumed with the conference. I will have to skip the check-in next week and pick up my goal of undefined article reading the week after. Hopefully I can manage more than 2.

  7. Vacations are good. It took the whole week to get unwound, but I got to leave the diss behind without guilt for the whole week. I’ve got comments on my ER chapter from my advisor, and I’m getting the whole thing back from my editor later in the week. I’m hoping having new feedback helps me avoid my usual post-vacation slow start.

    For this week: work on front matter; revise ER per advisor’s comments; clean up Arc; read/skim one new important book I missed before.

    I’m using vacations and little trips that punctuate the summer to stand in for official deadlines. My next one is July 5, by which time I’m planning to get ER revised/completed for advisor approval.

    It’s also the first week of having my kids on summer break, and though I’ll have child care for about 10 hours a week (so I’m not losing all my usual work time), I’ll have to adjust to having less time to myself and to needing to have my work time be extra focused.

  8. I opted out last week, and I’m going to opt out for the next two as well. My intention with the One Big Thing was to work on it constantly through the term. However, these three (or four) weeks are just too hectic. I’ve taken on a big editing project which needs to be done quickly, and I’ve got a paper to present on a radically different topic, so although I’d love to think that I would still spend the first half-hour of the day working on BookTwo, I think for the sake of getting these other things done I need to bench it for a while.

    Best of luck everyone else; see you back on the 1st July.

  9. I totally forgot to do the timetable of tasks for the hybrid section I said I’d do. I thought about it, then decided to open the document instead and . . just got going. I did indeed touch work for two days this week, for ‘as long as I want’ . This tactic worked really well for me- it got me started, which is important as I can be a wicked procrastinator, and took advantage of the fact that once in, I really start to enjoy myself.

    This week, I’ll do the same again, but with the aim of finishing as much as I can do on the results section, then sending it to a collaborator for checking.
    I’m noticing how much time is flying again too – week 6 already on the writing group! So I am starting to keep an eye on the clock. If anything, I suppose I am starting to get into a groove, but honestly it’s winter here, freezing, and I could have done with a decent heater today. As long as I don’t start going round and round in circles.

    1. Oh, dear. Yes, the muddy freezing ruts are another story, aren’t they? But it does sound like you’re working with what you know about how you approach work, and that’s good.

  10. My goal last week was too do 30 min of work a day on the paper. I needed to tighten up the intro/discussion and cut words from the paper. I managed to trim close to 2000 words from the paper and fix a variety of organizational problems (really the organizational fix helped the word limit). It’s now out to outside readers. I also wrote a cover letter. Next week I’ll take the feedback and apply it and then hopefully send it out.

    My process was not good though — what I really did was binge-write on this paper on Tuesday (Jury duty was canceled) and then again on Wed (the one day I work a full day). I got tons done, but it’s not a sustainable way to work and then I had procrastinated so badly on other things that I needed to do them on Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun instead of being more evenhanded. I’d like to be more even about my writing work since I think that will make me more productive in the long run.

    That said, I feel like I’ve made such good progress on that that I should pick up something else. There’s another manuscript that is also close and I think I would feel quite successful this summer if I got two manuscripts out the door. But I also have a grant resubmission deadline in Nov and two major projects to get off the ground. I’m not sure which is better to attend to. So this week I’ll talk strategy with a mentor or two and I’ll read/make a to do list for the new project. I’ll still have a bit to do on Grant Paper in the next two weeks (depending on how long the readers take to come back) though so I can’t completely check it off.

    1. You are making good progress! Getting your paper out to readers is very happy news. Considering your strategy with input from someone else also sounds like a good idea. Steady, even progress is not the only way to work (see my post on Immersion awhile back, with a link to the one that inspired it)—some tasks need more sustained attention. Also, you were worried about jury duty taking time away from writing, and when you got that time back, you wanted to take full advantage of it; that makes sense.

  11. This week I read a couple of inspiring new articles related to my paper. Also, I found in a box an old French diss. which I got a copy quite a long ago, but have not read all yet. It was hand written, printed from microfilm, and French was- still is- not an easy language to read for me. However, it is closely related to my paper and I do want to read it. It will be my main task for the next few weeks, I think.

    Next week, I am going to revise my old draft of its chronological part, re-reading a couple of main articles on the topic.

    1. I like reading foreign languages, and have a handwriting fetish as well, so your handwritten dissertation sounds like a fun task to me! Good luck with it, and the revisions.

  12. I got distracted by other tasks last week and just didn’t feel like working on Slow Perk. (But on the other hand, I’ve got *all* of my syllabuses done for the fall, including the weird 8-week class!)

    This week I do need to turn back to it and plan to work bit by bit on the “fill in X” sections. Perhaps by the end of the week I’ll have the theoretical section drafted.

    I might not check in next week as we’ll be traveling back from a long-weekend trip that day.

    1. Hey—congratulations on the syllabi! I keep feeling like it might be easier to plan classes than to keep working on the MMP (which is the monster I’m not talking about in this group). But I don’t start them. “Filling in X” is a good do-a-little-at-a-time project, unlike finishing something off, as Hypatia was doing.

  13. Not in groove with anything except this paper.

    Last week, was to work M-W and take off Th-Su. Worked M-W and touched work on 3 of the other days. Therefore now have 1600 words of which 700 need some revision.

    This week, I have to finish some unrelated things, really have to finish, and this is my focus for M-W. I am allowed to touch writing group work during this time but not to get distracted by it, and I must get in good groove with work hours, I want routine because it is Zen. Then, Thurs-Sun, 2.5 hours per day AND 250 words in that time. Allowed to take one of these days off.

  14. My very mature and responsible “work in the mornings and do everything else in the afternoons” plan fell apart by Wed. of the past week. There was a bunch of work being done on my house, but I believe the real reason is that I’m shifting from the researching to the writing/revising. And that froze me. So I’m trying to thaw out and go back to the schedule. Next week I am off on a research trip for three days, and am unlikely to get much done in terms of writing.

    1. thawing out! I’m laughing. It’s freezing here too- thawing is great, if painful. Good luck with it.

  15. It was smart to opt out last week. The beginning was too busy and taking the mini-vacation with husband was nice without any work over my head, though we both wished the vacation was longer. I did get a little unplanned reading done.
    This week’s goal, complete 2 sections.

    1. We’ve been bemoaning the end of vacation over at Chez Amstr too. I’m glad you got some time away.

  16. I forgot that I had promised to finish a review by today, so last week’s reach-goal turned out to be really way out of reach. I got the review done and groomed the last 200 lines of one thousand-line chunk, which is now someone else’s problem for awhile. So I feel pretty good about work accomplished, but it mostly wasn’t writing-group work.

    I too need to give some attention to tasks that were not what I signed up to do in this group—alas—as usual, there is too much on my plate, and I am not good at juggling.

    However, the translation isn’t going away. I’m going to set a low goal this week, so that it gets some attention and so that I keep making progress there, but I may do all the translation work on one or two days, so I can deal with the Other Thing. Goal: groom 200 lines of another chunk of translation.

  17. Still here, and met both of my just-keep-swimming goals. Goals for next week: finish Book B (which is such a pleasure to read that that shouldn’t be a problem); make good inroads into Book C; spend at least an hour doing free writing on the larger project.

    Having an article accepted has been a good thing. I struggle with feeling legitimate as a scholar, especially since I haven’t published anything scholarly for quite a long time now (and my diss. topic always drew a lot of fire — people respond much more positively to this new topic, which is a real blessing). The very positive response I got from the reviewers etc. has gone a long ways towards making me think that I could really do a larger project. Now I’m going to focus on reading and preliminary writing for that. Happily, the reading I have to do for the revisions all feeds into that, so right now things look good on the research front!

    1. I understand what you mean about having a controversial topic, and the extra energy it requires to defend that position/ research work. It is such a relief to do something less controversial sometimes, and just focus on the work itself.

      1. Exactly… especially since mine was very interdisciplinary. It felt like there were a lot of fronts open, in a sense, all the time. This project actually touches on some of the same issues, just in a different way. I think about going back to the earlier project once I’ve had more experience with NOT fighting all the time, and drawing on that sense of accomplishment to be firmer about what I’d be doing with the first project. Not being so vulnerable to everyone else’s opinion, etc.

  18. Last week was a wash out for me. Summer teaching is wearing me down, and I have had trouble keeping all of the wheels turning. I am going to go ahead and once again plan to finish the first section of chapter 2. Tomorrow is midterm, so I’m halfway done! Looking forward to deep immersion writing and research in July.

  19. Definitely in a rut rather than a groove right now. No progress on WGS last week. Grr. Goal for this week will have to be flexible: two or three noodling/drafting sessions.

  20. Last week’s goal: Make notes for 20 lines of text, write up a paragraph.

    Progress: Wrote the notes for 20 lines, started to write up the paragraph.

    Analysis: A slightly different approach with the note-making just about yielded the results. As for the paragraph, it’s probably a bit more complicated and will need some more work than I first thought.

    Next week’s goal: Make notes for 10 lines of text (should be more achievable given my schedule!)

    I may be in a bit of a rut with this piece of work – perhaps it’s time to shake things up with how I’m approaching it? I’m not sure.

  21. OK, so I’m finally here. I was on vacation last week, mostly unplugged. Now I’m in London, with the goal of having writing Book Spinoff article. This will be a half week, and then I’ll go full steam ahead next week. So my goal this week is to re-familiarize myself with the project, call up some articles that are related, as well as books, and start reading and thinking. Even writing. I have also — after hearing about if from people in these various groups — downloaded a trial version of scrivener, to see if it helps with all the pieces I have to deal with.

    There are still oddments of my other responsibilities sitting on my shoulder, but I’m trying to keep them to a few hours a day, at the end of the day. So my good energy goes to this project.

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