Since mid-December, I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet in which I keep track of writing/research progress. I have basically three projects at the moment: the book, the translation, and “revisions.” The last actually refers to three different articles but it makes me too anxious to think about having five on-going projects, so I lump them together in my head, although in the spreadsheet I record which of the three I’ve worked on.
In December and a lot of January I moved from one project to another, depending on what I felt like doing on a given day. I was most consistent about the translation. I wasn’t working hard on the book, but as part of my work on it, I typed up old notes, read essays and took notes, and outlined a book I admire and is similar to what I hope to produce, in order to see how it was put together. I wrote a conference abstract and did a little work on each of two “revisions.”
In the past 30 days, however, I’ve been working mainly on the book, and have written about 14,000 words on the chapter-in-progress. A good chunk of them are more notes on reading. A lot of the rest is verbal vomit that will have to get drastically reduced. This is contrary to the organized method I often advocate. In this instance, however, there are two reasons why I’m letting myself go. One, I want to be sure I have something to show for the sabbatical leave. If I have drafted all my chapters, even if they are wordy and full of all-caps notes to myself saying FIND THE PERFECT QUOTE or DO RESEARCH TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION, then I can tell people (including myself) that I drafted an entire book and will be working on editing it when I go back to teaching. Two, in a broad sense I organized the book several years ago, and I have thought enough about its topics that I have a lot of ideas ready to pour onto the page. I may need to look up quotations, but I know someone said the thing I want to quote. So getting the words down helps me clarify my ideas and identify areas where I do need to do a bit more research.
I recently finished a chunk of translation that now needs to be revised, and there’s another chunk that needs its notes edited. Those tasks are both things best done in large chunks of time. I’d like to take a full day or so for each of them. First I want to finish the current chapter. Then I can take some time for the translation-polishing, and I’d also like to take a few days to do at least one set of revisions.
After that, I hope to return to balancing translation and drafting another chapter.
I’ll also need some time for taxes and House/Cat Admin/Life Admin type stuff. Why is Life so Distracting? Not in a fun way. I just mean that if I’m gathering tax documents and making sure we have All The Things, I then find it very hard to think about Cheese in Chaucer; and if I write first, then I want to go on with fun work instead of tedious taxes.