Saturday, May 28, 2011

Writing Group: Call for Proposals (with a book recommendation)

The time has come, the walrus said, to write of many things.

As previously announced, Another Damned Medievalist and I are launching the pilot term of our online writing group. We're going to be starting up next Friday. For now, we'll be doing this as sort of an open-thread Friday, where you check in once a week to report on your progress. Occasionally, we may offer suggestions of things to contemplate and comment on in a given week. But mostly, it's going to be about us being a group of people who hold each other accountable for producing a finished piece of writing in a 12-week period. June 3 will be week one, the first week that you report progress. August 19th will be week twelve – the week you have your project finished.

Who can participate? Anyone who is writing something. Given that ADM and I are both academics, and both in the Humanities, our posts will likely be geared toward that audience. But all are welcome to participate.

Lest you think this is all loosey-goosey, however, we're going to require one thing from anyone who wants to participate: A firm commitment. So that's the theme of this thread: What will you commit to writing in this twelve-week period? A conference paper? An article? A chapter of your dissertation? Will it be a complete first draft or a revision? It can be anything you want, so long as you can commit to working on it and reporting your progress weekly, and – most importantly – finishing it by August 19th. So figure out what you can reasonably accomplish, and tell us about it.

ADM and I will alternate weeks to host. I'll take the first week, Friday June 3rd, when we'll talk about your first week's progress, but also the importance of daily writing, and your writing environment. But that's for next week. For now, let's just get to know each other, and share our project goals for the next twelve weeks.

Hope to see you there!

UPDATED: There are many wonderful writing guides out there, but one that I'd love to recommend to this group in particular is "Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks." It's geared towards advanced grad students and early- to mid-career academics, and focuses on taking something you've already got a bit of a draft of (seminar paper? conference paper?) and expanding, revising, and shaping it into a polished piece. Week-by-week instructions and everything. It's not an "assignment" for the group, but I've used it with great success.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Frog Princess, in her sign-in, has set a (more or less) halfway goal along with her August 19 goal. I've also had good results breaking down my project into manageable chunks, and making mini-commitments to myself. I highly recommend FP's approach.

37 comments:

Sapience said...

I'm in. I have multiple writing projects that have to get done this summer--job market materials, and pieces of two chapters of my dissertation--but I'm going to focus on getting at least one draft and one major revision of my current chapter done by August 19th.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Welcome to our first writer! Who's next...?

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Me too! Again with the multiple projects, including a conference paper whose deadline will force me to produce something, but the project I am going to focus on is an article based on a conference paper from last year, the one I recently said chez moi that I'd hoped to have done in March.

NWGirl said...

I'm in. I am starting a tt position in the fall and want to make good use of this summer. Like others I have multiple projects -- revising the dissertation for publication, a conference paper, etc. I will commit to writing an article based on a conference paper from last year.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I'm going to focus on my Leeds paper, but that will be done mid July. For the rest of that time, will have a few days of vacation (I know! crazy!), and then work on the intro to the book.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

So funny - this makes me miss academic writing! I actually have a (law) paper I'd like to try to turn into an article. But I also have this stupid thing called the bar exam, so I can't even pretend I'm going to do anything with it this summer. But I wish you all the best! Writing groups are great!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Not to worry, New Kid: If this works out, you can join us for the next session in the fall!

ABDMama said...

I'm in. I just finished my dissertation and would like to have an article submitted before applying for tt positions. I will complete the article draft by August 19th (see, I'm already thinking positively).

Dr. Koshary said...

I'm in. I have some bits and bobs I've cooked up recently that I want to turn into a proper journal article. I'd be very glad to have something finished by mid-August to submit.

I also have my book and its prospectus to work on, but I won't hang that on this writing group. One must be reasonable.

Sara said...

I'm in...as long as it's okay that I take five weeks off while I'm in Italy.

I'll be working on a revision of my research exam, due when fall semester begins. Oh, I'm a PhD student in English.

What Now? said...

I just commented over at ADM's to say that I'm in! My summer project is to write the book proposal for the biography project I've been working on (on and off) for several years now. Totally do-able, but I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it, so this writing group is perfect motivation and accountability.

Avery said...

Okay, I'm really going to give this my best. I just finished my PhD and managed to land a visiting position for the upcoming year, but I need to get a piece from the dissertation under review before the job market starts again. So, that's what I'll be working on. My realistic goal is to have a full draft by August 19th. My ideal goal would be to have it ready to submit by then, but I'm also dealing with moving and planning two new courses so I'll focus on the realistic goal instead. I'm in the social sciences, but I have an interdisciplinary humanities slant to my work.

Jason said...

I'm in, planning to establish some good writing habits (finally) and complete a dissertation chapter first draft. Thanks to Notorious & ADM for hosting.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I have a book ms I have been working on for about a year. Right now it is 50,000 words. I am going to try and get a completed first draft done by 19 Aug. 2011. I intend to wrap up the ms at about 80,000 words.

Jeff said...

Okay, let's do this. I need to defend my dissertation in September, and August 19th sounds like a pretty good deadline to get the final draft to my committee. I have mostly complete drafts of all the chapters, but two chapters still need serious revisions and there are various gaps to be closed—especially a few important technical problems that I'm still working through.

thefrogprincess said...

I'm joining Jeff in joining the group to finish a dissertation. I'm hoping to defend in October (but it might be December--a decision that will be made in June) so my goal for the group is to finish the 2nd draft of my dissertation (whether that's a final draft is TBD in June).

In practical terms, that means I need to finish the first draft--write the last half of a chapter and the intro and put it all together--by mid-June and then spend the rest of the time revising, reading, working on continuity, and the like. It's a lot, but I'll be teaching my own courses for the first time starting in late August and this really needs to be done by then.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I think The Frog Princess has done something really excellent here: Not only has she set a goal, she's set some preliminary goals, milestones along the way.

As we all know, long projects like books or dissertations are marathons, not sprints. So I'd encourage everyone (even those who have already signed in) to follow FP's lead, if you can, and break your project down into manageable chunks. What portion of it will be done by the end of June? July? Hells, if you can set weekly goals, that's even better.

Erika said...

I'm in too. I have a portion of the dissertation that I am committed to reworking into a journal article for submission. I'm going to set my six week goal as a complete first draft of my piece, and spend the second half of the summer polishing, getting the feedback of older and wiser colleagues, and reworking, polishing some more, and sending it out.

Anonymous said...

um you have a lurker whom may get brave enough to jump in... (I'm an academic librarian in my first t-t position (where I actually have time and motivation to publish!) and am feeling a bit like a little kid playing dress up when it comes to my projects and thus a little scared to do more than lurk at this point...)

godiva said...

I'd like to join too! I definitely need the motivation. I'll aim to have a draft of my next thesis chapter (from a standing start).

Kit said...

I'm in as well, if you'll have someone who hasn't commented here before. I've got a dissertation chapter to write - first draft - and the timing is perfect since I'm meeting with my supervisor to discuss said chapter in early September.

Eileen said...

I'm in. I'm going to be working on a first draft of a first dissertation chapter. I'm going to try to get my primary materials organized and my argument mapped out before we start. Thanks again for hosting this!

Bardiac said...

I'm in, please. I'm going to revise a draft paper for submission to a journal.

Thanks :)

scholasticamama said...

I want in too! I have a conference paper from the Spring that I want to turn into an article. I need a publication and I need it fast - starting year 3 with nothing published. Fair warning, there will be Foucault, Abelard, and about three Matildas. I have one vacation and one Think Tank week, but I'll make sure to work around those. I need this!

Jen said...

Hello all! Thank you to Notorious Ph.D. and A.D.M. for hosting! I would love to join. I'll be working on my dissertation all summer, but I also have another project that I want to turn into an article. It is based on some conference presentations, so it is in good shape to use the Belcher 12 week revise and submit process.

My immediate goal for this week is to work on the article every day, first thing in the morning before I head to the library for dissertation work.

My goal for June is to finish reviewing the literature and to begin piecing together a draft. I would like to be able to enlist some friends to read and comment on the draft by the middle of July.

Tigs said...

Count me in for a draft of my dissertation (minus conclusion).

I have various drafts of several chapters that need to get revised and one chapter that I've got notes for, but no actual draft.

Middling goals:

- Revised Draft of Ch. 2 completed 6/10.
- Revised Draft of Ch. 3 completed 7/8.
- New draft of Ch. 4 completed 7/29.
- New draft of Ch. 5 completed 8/19.

My goal for Friday, 6/3, is 12 new/revised pages into the document.



I'm ABD in a humanities-ish social science.

Digger said...

Thanks so much for hosting this! I'm in... for completion of a draft of the All About Wheels chapter (involves finishing up the smashing together of the former About Wheels and Dating Wheels chapters) and the start/finish of a draft of the What Is It About Wheels, Anyway? chapter (for which I have copious notes).

I'm quitting my job and moving a few states away for grad school during this time period, but need to get this book stuff done and gone. And these are the scary chapters, so this is a great opportunity (peer pressure! Yay!)

zcat-abroad said...

Hi! I signed up over on ADM's site too, but thought I'd better bookmark both, and give a brief intro.

I'm trying to get 2 articles written by the end of September, as I DESPERATELY need publications on my CV. I've just finished my PhD, and am roving the world (online) trying to find a job.

Also included in my aims is finishing my paper for Leeds, which will be item the first. It is to be extracted from the one article I have sent off, and I want it substantially written in two weeks, when I start on the long haul from NZ to civilised parts of the world, and so will be away from my library.

Thanks for the impetus!

Caleb Woodbridge said...

Great idea! I've got my MA dissertation to write over the summer, which needs to be around 16 to 20,000 words. The deadline is 9th September, but I'm away at the end of August, so want to finish it by the 19th. So this fits perfectly.

I know broadly what I'm going to discuss and argue, and have a timetable to work to, so it's just a matter of knuckling down and getting on with it.

My plan is to spend the first week on general reading and preparation. Then I'll spend two weeks on each of the four chapters - roughly a week of reading and a week of writing up. I'll then spend a week on the Introduction & Conclusion, and a fortnight on final editing and proofreading.

Matilda said...

May I join? A writing group online is a wonderful idea. Thank you very much for hosting.

There are two problems, I am afraid. First, I have never done a writing group before, and have only a vague idea about it. Second, as you might already understand, English is not my first language and not enough though I have been trying to publish in English.

I have taken a look at "Writng your journal article in 12 weeks". It is wonderfully pragmatic and encouraging (thank you for your recommendation!). As I know I am far behind other participants, I think I am going to follow this book, step by step, and finish one paper by August 19th, at least English correction stage aside.

Zabeel said...

What a good idea!

I'm currently in down-time between finishing PhD and beginning postdoc in September. My aim is to finish a draft of the first 2 (of 4) sections of an article by 19th August. This is new work (not a revision) so I'm not sure how quick my progress will be, but a bit of imposed motivation should be welcome.

Ro said...

I'm in, too. I am working on an essay that needs to be ready by mid-summer for an academic volume. I'm shooting to have a first draft done by the end of June, if not earlier, with revisions to follow. After that's completed, I'm going to go back to work on a book manuscript. I'll also be taking some time off in July to visit family and, possibly, for a short vacation...

firstmute said...

I'm in! I want to finish a draft of my final dissertation chapter this summer. We're traveling a bit so it may be tight, but I'm ready to commit.

Scatterwriter said...

I would like to be in, too, if you'll take another non-blogging lurker (who has at least met ADM once in real life). I have two big projects for the summer: an article manuscript that needs major revision, and a book manuscript that needs some rewriting. I'll commit to the article for this group: gathering together my new research threads by July 1, completing a new draft by July 29, and resubmitting by August 12 (when I go away for a week).

Susan said...

I'm in too. My current project involves finishing a book left half finished when my husband died. The goal for the summer is to get the first two chapters into a semi-finished state, and (hopefully) to be able to own the project as mine.

Travelia said...

The writing group idea has finally made this long-time lurker de-lurk.

My goals for the summer:

June 30: complete two conference papers (one for delivery at a conference in July and the second is to meet a deadline for a fall conference)

I'll be gone for the first two weeks of July for the conference and vacation. When I return, I will shift gears and complete a revision of the introduction to my book by August 19.

For the first check in on Monday: reworking of the book proposal.

August 19:

MsMcD said...

I'm in too. I've been meaning to sign up for a couple days, but got caught up in the end of the year (grades, graduation) plus start of summer school craziness.

I have a conference paper that got solicited for a journal that I really want to publish in. I've started working on the article several times, but haven't got past about week 4 in the Writing your Journal Article in 12 weeks. So I could really use some motivation and feedback. I'm an asst prof. in early American history. Thanks for putting this together!!!