Thursday, September 29, 2011

Writing Group, Week 4: Look at this neat stuff I found!

Welcome back, everyone! Thanks for checking in last week, and a special shout-out to those who checked in more than once so they could offer their fellows comments and encouragement.

Week four's check-in is upon us. I note that last week there were a large number of absences. The same thing seemed to befall my classes last week, so perhaps it's something in the air. Or maybe gettin' it done, week in and week out, has started to weigh on some people. But since that's what we're about here, I thought that maybe it's time for a little pick-me-up to revive the flagging motivation. So here's what I'd like to suggest for a discussion topic: What's one cool thing that you discovered this week? One thing that made you go: Oooh! Neat-o!, and got you excited about your project, even if only momentarily. Feel free to geek out -- we're all a bit weird here, after all.

Here's my story: This week saw me reading about... pirates! Arrr! Pirates! And I'm finding the reading amazing and cool. Here's one nifty thing: when we think about pirates, we think of two ships at sea, firing cannon at each other until one sinks or is boarded, after which much swash is buckled, booty is taken, legs are pegged, etc.

But this is about medieval pirates.

So: No cannons.

It was a small revelation, and one that was totally obvious once I looked at it for even half a second, but it totally rearranged my mental picture of pirates, who were now firing mounted crossbows instead of cannons, and ordering their prey to take down their sails by shouting at them, of all things.

I thought that was cool.

All right, now to the goals. My goal was to read at least 3 articles and one book, take notes daily, and write at least 500 good words towards the paper draft. Well, I did all that... except for that daily note-taking. If I'm not writing daily, I'd like to be note-taking daily, just to keep engaged (as we discussed last week). And let me tell you, sitting down to write that summary work without the daily journaling was harder than it should have been. So this week my goal is the same thing (let's call it "4 bibliography items", since I'm not sure how long it will take for the actual books to arrive), but to be much more conscientious about the journaling.

How about you? Check out your goals from last week -- did you accomplish what you wanted to? And don't forget to tell us what you plan to do next week.

Finally, if you're on the absence list, remember that you need to check in this week or lose your spot. And if you're on the absence list but you did check in, but under a different name, let me know, and I'll correct the post. I think we've got almost all of the double-names sorted out, but there may be one or two more lingering out there.

Writers... Report!

Goals for week 4:
  • ABDMama [Complete an article draft]: 1) Write out a take on the topic with the new work; 2) Write an abstract.
  • Adelaide [write a conference paper]: finish organizing notes and start writing SOMETHING towards the paper…
  • Amcalm25 [finish an article]: continue with at least 20 minutes of writing for at least 5 days and thoroughly read 1 main text
  • Amstr [revise and resubmit an article]: 1) write argument statement, note where argument is in article, and revise to make argument clear and prominent; 2) outline article, review WYJA on “solving structural problems,” and revise for structure; 3) “read,” annotate, and incorporate 10 sources
  • Another Damned Medievalist [write/revise a close-to-final draft of an article]: One or both of the following two: 1) Read the initial papers again, making clear notes about awkward issues, and consult with the editor; 2) Work on an outline and plan for how to restructure the article
  • Antikate [revise a conference paper into an article & submit]: Write 1000 words, and read at least two articles from potential target journals
  • Belledamesansmerci/Elizabeth [transform a conference paper into a journal article]: Continue the half-hour a day; decide whether the paper is long enough for article and scout out further examples if necessary
  • Bitterandjaded/Bittergrrl [finishing a dissertation chapter]: 1) finish integrating the second theoretical work into the introduction; 2) Edit everything into a cohesive narrative; 3) Add a total of 2000 words to the chapter/intro.
  • Britomart [completing a draft of dissertation introduction]: Work on the dissertation intro for 2 hours per day.
  • Cly(temnestra) [write a book chapter]: (not sure what the goal is: is it to try again to get daily writing in? -- NPhD)
  • Contingent Cassandra [complete a full draft of a journal article]: Continue the working rhythm on three days
  • Dame Eleanor Hull [complete a chapter of the article-turned-book]: revise the most complete chapter for the recommender
  • Digger [write two book chapters]: 1) work on chapters 5/7 days; 2) Start writing background of Why Wheels chapter; outline State Sponsored Wheels chapter
  • Dr. Crazy [Finish a chapter draft begun this summer]: Write 3 pages and reread Giddens
  • Dr. Virago [draft a 7500-word essay for a contracted publication]: write each of my writing days this week, and aim for another 750 words
  • Erika [write a complete & final draft of an article already underway]: Pull together all the thoughts and jots; reach out to possible peer-reviewer
  • Evan [write a conference paper]: read up about the rise of the New Right and make a list of stuff to ILL for when I get back
  • Forthright [write two article-length pieces]: put the skeleton together for at least one of the articles
  • Frogprincess [Final draft of the dissertation]: finish another draft of the introduction and send it to the advisor; continue working through chapter 1 revisions; start outlining the conclusion; work on the diss on M/W 12-2 and Saturday/Sunday
  • Good Enough Woman [write a solid draft of a dissertation chapter]: 1) read 50 more pages of primary text, 2) read two more chapters of Descartes, 3) read one chapter of another book (secondary source), 4) and read one article (realizing that this could be overly optimistic)
  • Heu Mihi [write paper for a faculty colloquium]: Work on translating the Latin (a 2-week project); go through 2 books and incorporate notes into Part 3 outline
  • Highlyeccentric [Draft two thesis chapters]: work on the thesis every day, incorporating 2000 words from another chapter, and writing a new introduction
  • Inafuturelife [transform seminar paper into a conference paper]: reread my primary text and start working on focusing the scope.
  • Jamilajamison [finish writing the M.A. thesis]: complete 1 of 4 sections, and do my best to follow the writing schedule
  • Janice/Jleidl [write a first draft of a chapter]: get to a total of 1500 words by next Friday
  • Jennifer [finish writing a neglected article]: (excused absence to take a week with family and packing office)
  • Katrin/StichInTime [Do we have an overall goal for you?]: Finish reading the paper; read yet another Norwegian thesis; check, reformat, and update/extend the catalogue section
  • Kris [write up a “full” paper and cut it down to a 15-minute conference presenation]: finish reading collected papers and craft a front section of the paper to contextualizes the current problem
  • Luolin [finish and submit an article]: Read through my draft and outline where it is and where I want it to be
  • Marie [finish turning paper into journal article]: finish the Intro and create an outline that makes sense
  • Matilda [revise a paper into a journal article]: finish constructing the main argument
  • Merryweather [write conference paper]: a) work at least 4 hours on the article in total between Monday to Thursday and all day on Friday; b) read the items from ILL; c) use the completed reading to write a short, argument-focused, literature review
  • Monks and Bones [turn a seminar paper into an article]: 1) complete last week’s goals (identifying relevant subset of sources, figuring out how to best approach data, reading some effective English-language articles for their structure); and 2) work on the project five days this week
  • Notorious Ph.D. [write a conference paper]: Read at least 3 articles and one book, take notes daily, and write at least 500 good words towards the paper draft
  • NWGirl [Revise one dissertation chapter into a book chapter]: 1) Work on list of sources for chapter; 2). Work on outline; 3) Write 500 words x 4 days.
  • Salimata [write a conference paper]: work every day on *this* particular project, specifically reading three more books
  • Scatterwriter [revise three chapters of book]: make the revisions to my Introduction that I identified this past week. Re-read and begin revising the first 20 pages of Chapter 1
  • Sisyphus [polish the rough draft of my article and send it out]: clean up all the bolded stuff in section 4 and put in all the correct transitions and topic sentences and conclusions and stuff (this may be a two-week project
  • Stemi [Complete and send off a review article ]: 1) Identify sections that need more references; 2) Add 500 words to outline file (including rough draft writing)
  • Susan [write a 7000 word commissioned essay]: read some of the grounding theory, and then draft perhaps 500 words of the next section on theoretical and conceptual territory
  • Synecdoche [Finish conference paper]: get back to work on this project (any specific goal toward that end? -- NPhD)
  • Trapped in Canadia [draft two chapters of the dissertation]: write 500 words a day on the abuses chapter and still manage an outline for my next chapter
  • Undine/Notofgeneralinterest [Finish nearly done chapter and complete another]: (1) get the article off the desk and (2) finish the 2,000 words that promised last week
  • Viola [writing an introduction and a chapter for thesis]: get the central argument squared away
  • Zcat abroad/Kiwimedievalist [write an article]: fix the issues with article A

Absences from week 3:
  • Firstmute [Revise and submit a journal article]
  • Lucie [Complete a full draft of my PhD thesis]
  • Mike [write ch. 2 of dissertation]
  • Nvrwhere42 [finish a dissertation chapter]
  • Opsimathphd [turning a dissertation chapter into an article]
  • Scholasticamama [Transform a conference paper into an article]
  • Su Real Alteza [finish textbook manuscript]


Matilda said...

Hello, all,

Yes, it is true, Notorious. People get tired of busy working days after initial excitement of starting something new... it is myself. This is why I am here.

My last week's goal was constructing my argument and finishing it. I have constructed it but not finishing it. There seem several possible directions of my argument. I think I will proceed with them all, and cut or revise some on the course of writing and revising. I stop here in summer semester, so I want to go further this time.

Have I found something cool? Well I have re-found the usefulness of sticky notes. It really helps you have so many errands.

For next week: skipping week 4 section (Selecting a Journal) , which I have done, going to week 5 section (Reviewing the related literature).


Viola said...


My geek-out moment this week wasn't so much about information I had found out but at all the information I had yet to learn about! I discovered a new favourite writer in my discipline and she straddles a few different disciplines which got me googling new words, ideas, people etc. I guess it's a good sign that this is something I will be motivated about doing for a little while yet!

This Week: I achieved my goal in squaring my argument into my essay. I rewrote most of the damn thing and sent it off. I got a quick response telling me that it was a 'very big improvement' just at a glance. However I do need to work on grammar bits and pieces and word choice.

Next Week: I want to proof the chapter for aforementioned grammar bits and pieces and word choice. I'm getting fairly close to finishing so I might start thinking about whether I will be starting my introduction or lit review next.

Cly said...

This week was marred by travel, a flu, and submitting Leeds sessions. I had decided in advance not to even try to work while en route and contented myself with fiction instead.

My moment of geeky-bliss came when a speaker for my Leeds session sounded exciting about another project I'm doing. It shouldn't be that surprising that someone thinks my work is interesting, but I've been spending time with non-medievalist types, and learned to only talk about work after many drinks.

Like Matilda, I've recently re-discovered sticky notes.

Other than the usual delays of being in a new place, the rest of the week has gone rather well – although I have to find a new work plan. I managed to write this week, but I didn’t manage either writing daily (this was my goal, even if I realised when confirming mid-week that I hadn’t actually stated it).

When finishing my doctorate, I forced myself to write for the first two hours each day (pre-coffee, pre-email, etc). Now I feel pulled in ten zillion directions, and can’t quite get that done (though I have substantially less teaching this year).

My goals this week are, (i) to try for 45 minutes a day (minimum, not maximum – just to make myself get back on track), and (ii) to work my way through one primary source (sermon collection).

Lucie said...


I'm sorry for missing last week. I was without internet access where I was working and never got round to getting some over the weekend.

I pretty much achieved my goals from the previous week relating to a particular chapter, but in the past week I've mainly been working on a report that is due in a week.

I need to get back to working on the thesis proper every day though. I also need to factor in that I'll be working on finishing that report this week, so:

Next week's goal:
-Write 500 words a day on section x to be added to chapter 1
-Start the day with this task.

Something cool...Well, it's no pirates, but something I found interesting was discovering that the word 'metadrama' is not in the Oxford English Dictionary, though it pops up regularly in academic titles in the last few decades.

Dr. Crazy said...

(Hanging head in shame) - for the second week in a row, I did not meet my stated goals. For what it's worth, I did submit two fellowship applications, manage not to kill my colleagues at a very irritating meeting, go on a date, and finish knitting a scarf. I think the problem for me right now is that I have about 10 "urgent" things on my to-do list - some of those urgent things even related to my research - and I'm bouncing back and forth between those, and my non-urgent writing goals aren't getting met.

So, I'm scaling it back for this week. I'm going back to my original goal, which is just "write 3 pages." I think things got overwhelming when I added in stuff to read and stuff to think about. In addition, I'm going to schedule time in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week for research stuff - just two hours each day. I think that's totally do-able, and I also think that it's a heck of a lot more likely that I'll make some progress if I ease up on myself a bit.

Adelaide said...

my goals got sidetracked by other work towards the project, and by collapsing in exhaustion at night when I got home because I could this week (unlike the last 5 weeks)... so lets let next week's goal be the same as last...

Scholasticamama said...

@Dr Crqazy - wahoo on the date and the finished scarf! (Oh, and that sounds like a busy week).

I was absent last week - family camping in the Sand Dunes. But, I did accomplish all my Week 3 goals that week.

Last week: I skipped the week 4 goals in WJA, as I had already done that. I reviewed my paper presentation with comments on almost every sentence, which is daunting but exciting.

Next week: read chapter 1 and conclusion of the diss and see what can be added into the article. Review the lit I have at home on Peter Abelard and read the 2 new books I received on medieval masculinities.

Cool stuff I found: Lots of books in our library (wow!) on gender ideas in the bible - mostly useless for my article, but tons of fun to read. I also read Douglas _Ritual and Taboo_ which was a ton of fun.

Cool stuff I did: Turned in my third year review portfolio and received (in the same week, no less) my letters of approval from dept committee and dept head. Yea!

Question for the group: Do I need to spend time defining "Gender" versus "sex" and why I am using gender and not sex for an article headed to phil and intellectual journals?

heu mihi said...

Did I really say that I was going to go through 2 books? What was I on, exactly?

Anyway, I just did my work this morning, because luckily we get today off (for Homecoming, of all things). I can't say that there were any big Events that overtook me this week; rather, just the usual stuff, and some lethargy, and I was also very very distracted by something else.

So, here's what I did: Translated a good bit (more than half) of the Latin. Found a couple of other analogues. Decided that I don't actually need to read the one book, and got another book out of the library (guess that's not the same thing as reading it, eh?). Made a little note in Part 3.

OK, that's pretty lame, but hey, it's something--and I can honestly say that I wouldn't have worked on it today if I hadn't needed to check in!

For next week: Finish up the Latin bit, read checked-out book, and take notes. And maybe I'll actually do it this weekend! Wow!

Cool thing I discovered? That the last little bit of the poem I'm translating doesn't seem to be in the other analogues/sources I've uncovered. It seems to be more of a postscript than a part of the poem, and it talks about UNSEEN DEMONS. Yeah! I see your pirates, Notorious, and I raise them with DEMONS!

luolin88 said...

project: [finish and submit an article]; week's goal. Read through my draft and outline where it is and where I want it to be

I did an outline, but have not figured out what to do about it.

I also read half of an article.

I probably would not have done either if it weren't for this group, since all the work this past week was not done at my usual time, which is usually the only time I'm able to get any writing done.

I'm a bit surprised at that, since I figured I was just as likely to push back against the accountability as to be motivated by it.

Nothing cool in my research this week, alas, but it rained yesterday, which is excitement enough where I live.

Dr. Crazy said...

Scholasticamama - I'm in English, so YMMV with my advice, but my impulse would be that you need *some* accounting for your word choice, but not a lengthy discussion, since the sex/gender distinction has been pretty thoroughly hashed out in feminist theory. My impulse would be briefly (like in one or two sentences) explain your choice, and then to include an end-note that directs readers to relevant article(s) that already cover that ground.

Janice said...

I didn't meet my goal, either. I only have 1400 words. So close!

I exceeded the goal in another way: I made seven pages of notes from some sources I had on short term loan. So there was some real progress made but I know why I failed to make my word count goal.

My chapter's been radically shifted out of shape all over again so I'm writing about the original topic only, not the expanded version I'd thought was the goal when I signed up for our group. Thus do writing projects evolve!

The important lesson I've learned this week is not to waste energy on feeling discouraged or dismayed that a bit of the rug's being pulled out from under me. I've got a publication coming along and if it's going to take three more weeks to get it back on schedule as I fill in the gap, so be it.

Next week's plan is to get over 2000 words. I expect that the goal for the week after that will have to be much more modest as Canadian Thanksgiving and a grading onslaught are looming.

Cool discoveries? Learning about palace women in 17th century southeast Asia, especially Krom Luang Yothathep, daughter of Ayutthaya’s King Narai. The 17th century French accounts pillory the poor woman, apparently. (Why am I not surprised? Those peripatetic French seemed to disapprove of most women they encountered in their travels).

Scholasticamama said...

Dr Crazy,

Your advice was what I was thinking. The journal I want to send to doesn't want any discussion in the footnotes, so maybe I could do one or two lines and just reference a bunch of stuff. My grad advisor always wanted me to define terms; not to was "assuming" and as he often informed me, we all know what assuming does.

ABDMama said...

I met last week's goals, but not in as complete a manner as I'd hoped. I have a fuzzy idea about what I'm going to be able to write and argue that will set my work apart from what has come since I first did this research.

I think that your question for the week is a good one, Notorious. I think it points out the problem with this project. It's not my major book project and it doesn't excite me as much as it used to. I guess it makes me happy to know that I like my book project more, but it is sometimes hard to push myself through to work on this article.

Next week: (1) Go through 2 bibliographic sources. (2) Begin thinking about how to incorporate comments into the work.

Mike said...

Oh the little projects. Those nagging little things with deadlines that are more solid and easier to hold onto than your writing work. Those totally knocked me out last week--one of which was a job letter/C.V. makeover that took more time than expected. But now, all of that is out of the way and I'm here to stay.

I am honestly not sure what my goal was last week, but I got a rough outline done for the chapter.

My something cool I found was a text form the 1940s that is basically an entire bibliography for this chapter. Someone went through and compiled all of the newspaper and magazine stories about the figure I'm writing about in English. So, that's nice.

My goal for this week: To go through my notes/sources and gather everything together I need to write part I of the outline, re-read those source and then write two pages.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Short version: I didn’t meet my goal to get into a rhythm, especially on weekdays; I again had a very productive Saturday morning, but made no progress aside from the occasional thought during the week. And I’m going to have about a month of unavailable Saturdays soon.

So I think the goal for the week has to be to write on two *weekday* mornings, working to flesh out at least part of one section of the outline that now exists. I’ll probably do some of the same on Saturday, but the weekdays are key (and I may need to think about aiming for 2 out of 3 of Tu, Th, and Fri, just to give myself some more options). I’m not going to set word-count goals yet, though I’m closer to being able to do so; at some point I’ll probably want to experiment and see if that’s helpful for me.

Longer version: Saturday was again very productive; I even found out that I can read/take notes until it’s time to walk to the farmer’s market, go do my shopping, then come back and do some writing based on the earlier-morning activities. I don’t lose my train of thought; in fact, I add to it while I walk. However, there are going to be Saturdays – and in fact this was probably one of them – when I need to stop sooner and get back to either teaching work or practical household matters other than shopping – e.g. bill-paying. I wasn’t really caught up when the week began on Monday, then Tuesday morning got overtaken by events on Monday night (a 3-4-hour job-related task that appeared pretty much out of the blue to swell my already bloated to-do list, and had me up very late). Things dominoed from there, and Thursday morning (both the writing time and some of the usual grading/prep time) were lost to another late night on Wednesday and general slow start on Thursday. And Friday – the day I’d really like to take off, or at least dedicate to mildly relaxing things such as cooking or cleaning/organizing or walking or reading a whole book on which I don’t have to take notes – has been spent catching up (somewhat). And, oh yes, there’s a conference proposal that needs to be in today (and is still only partly done, but I did get the c.v. that needs to accompany it updated yesterday).

On the brighter side, Saturday’s work resulted in a fairly detailed outline, keyed to particular primary sources and parts thereof/possible illustrative passages, which should allow me to flesh it out bit by bit (now that I have a sense of what the final word count should be, I may want to figure out approximate word count goals/limits for each section; that’s not done yet). And I came up with a really cool title: a quote from a primary source that is surprising enough to make people stop and take notice, and nicely encapsulates what is becoming my point. I’d guess that I’ll play with the subtitle a bit, but keep the title. And, although I didn’t write on Tues. and Thurs. mornings, I did get some work done on ancillary projects related to the article on those days, and Weds. as well.

Contingent Cassandra said...

(continued; I seem to be prolix this week)

And yes, I have a geek-out moment (actually a second one, if you count finding the title as the first): I need to hunt down the origin of a phrase that encapsulates a Biblical idea but doesn’t seem to actually come from the Bible (KJV given my historical period), and can consult both scholarly and church friends on that; I enjoy it when such overlaps of two parts of my life occur (and this overlap is also apparent in the article as a whole, and there’s even some connection to contemporary issues, so that’s a pleasure. I don’t think the contemporary angle will show up in the article, but it might be fodder for a spin-off article or opinion piece or talk aimed at a more general audience interested in intersections between faith and policy debates, historical and current).

So, on the one hand I’m really having fun, and loving the feeling of being back in the swing of doing research and writing, even if it’s mostly happening on one day a week. On the other hand I’m worried that I’m going to lose the connection to the project when Saturdays disappear for a while, and I’m a bit worried that the amount of time I’m giving the project on Saturdays is putting me behind on teaching-related work (and of course that contributes to the weekday-writing problem, and makes the upcoming unavailable Saturdays even scarier). And I really, really need to take a Friday off soon, since I’m definitely in that downward spiral where I keep getting tireder, and going slower, and missing sleep to try to catch up, and so getting even tireder and going even slower. I need to do something about that, too, before the busier weekends ahead (at least one of which might just have to be skipped, and can be – but it’s a good opportunity to get a sense of what’s going on in my field without spending a lot of money on travel, hotels, etc., so I’d like to go if possible). So maybe my goal for tomorrow morning is to do *less* -- maybe just a quick writing session of the sort I’d like to also do on weekday mornings? I think I may try that, paradoxical as it may sound. I can always come back later in the day if I have time and do some queries related to the phrase that needs investigation.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi all -- Girl Scholar here.

Just to let you know that I'm reading all your comments as they come in, but today's a very busy day, so I'll be commenting on your individual posts here either late tonight or early tomorrow.

But I did want to briefly jump in to address a point that Gillian brings up about specific weekly goals. The reason we ask for these is that we believe that having vague goals can lead to vague results. Having a specific weekly goal can push you to get that goal accomplished, even if it's only a modest goal. This can lead to greater forward progress.

We don't always meet 100% of our weekly goals, but having a specific target keeps us moving forward at a reasonably steady pace towards our larger goals for the 12 weeks, and that's what this group is all about.

undine said...

Hi Notorious--I did post last week, but I must have posted on the wrong blog. My goal was to get the neverending article out the door (done!) and write the 2000 new words that I had promised. I did get to 1500 words on the real project, which is almost a goal met.

undine said...

P. S. Wordpress logs me in as notofgeneralinterest1, which is why it looked as though I hadn't shown up over at ADM's place. I'll try to get a new Wordpress identity under undine.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi Undine --

No need -- now that we've got your double-identity squared away, we know what to look for. I did have a check-in for you under the other name, so I'll update this main post to reflect that.

Digger said...

Goal Summary: Overall, write two book chapters. This past week 1) work on chapters 5/7 days; 2) Start writing background of Why Wheels chapter; outline State Sponsored Wheels chapter

Report: wrote 4/7 days. Better, but still aiming for 5/7. Started writing Why Wheels. No progress on State Sponsored Wheels.

I've forced myself the past two nights to do *something* on this project even though I get in late Wed/Thurs because of night classes. Even a few exhausted minutes of writing led to a breakthrough. Several threads of information clicked while I was writing, and I now have what I believe to be a strong argument for Why Wheels. This makes me very happy, as I'd been flustered (and therefore avoiding this chapter). It's now pretty clear what the literature review bits of this chapter will be, and what the My Arguement part will be.

Neat stuff? I bit the bullet and downloaded Scrivener for Windows. I didn't want to get into new software with all the work I've already done, but I was *so* hung up on this chapter working on it as a whole, that I used Scrivener to chop it up into workable bits. Success!!!

And I really like working on my stuff in bits instead of as a whole. Going to pull a troublesome conference paper into Scrivener this weekend and see how that goes (it should, it's a structural problem).

Learned: I think best while writing. Writing = breakthroughs, not just words. And breakthroughs = awesome, and make me want to write, not avoid.

Goals for next week: Write 5/7 days. Have a finished zero draft of Why Wheels (notes to myself to check dates and questions to double check ok to remain).

zcat_abroad said...

Totally OBE this week - though most of the E was essay-marking. Also, fighting the end-of-winter fatigue that is causing me to not feel like giving a @#%%.

So my cool thing must come from teaching - watching my classes do ten-minute versions of Shakespearean comedy definitely lightened the week! I had thought this exercise would be a total waste of time (I'm TAing for a paper), but so much effort went into their thoughts on how to cut them down, and remain funny!

So, next week: deal with pile of first-year essays without killing anyone; work on introducing concept of Englishness into beginning of paper (1/2 of last week's goal); and work on two job applications. Sorry, only one of those things is article related. :(

Scatterwriter said...

Overall goal: revise three chapters of book. Last week's goal: make the revisions to my Introduction that I identified this past week. Re-read and begin revising the first 20 pages of Chapter 1.

I met this week's goal, finally! And in a change, I worked on it in a couple of different sessions rather than one very long one, and I succeeded at putting research ahead of teaching. That meant I was scrambling on class preparation a couple of times, but in the end it all got done.

Unfortunately I have nothing new and exciting to share about the research itself, because I haven't been doing that lately -- just straight revision. But I anticipate some research in the near future.

I will say that I saved my manuscript as a PDF and downloaded it to my iPad via Dropbox, so I have been working on it using iAnnotate. This means I always have the ms with me and can work on it whenever I feel like it. I do the actual input of edits on my computer.

Goal for this week: read and revise the remaining 62 pages of Chapter 1. (I'm expecting to spend much less time on teaching prep this week, because of out-of-class activities that I need to attend but not plan.)

Jennifer said...

Hi all,

I returned last weekend from wedding/family madness and immediately shifted gears to packing up to move to Europe for 2 years to finish my dissertation (and my article!). So, this week was super productive, just not in terms of writing. I finished digitizing all of the piles of diss. and article materials in my office, which gave me a chance to revisit and rediscover some buried treasure (geeky pirate joke for Notorious).

I am unpacking in my new city and looking forward to jumping back into actual work this week! My SO does not arrive for a few more weeks, so I'll have the place to myself to do lots of writing!

Goals for this week: Mostly reading. Take a few days to finish organizing loose ends left from moving. Move on to writing. I'm going to start with a small and manageable goal of 1,000 new words to get back into the writing.

Have a good week everyone!

P.S. @Notorious-there is a good pirate story in the Miracles de Nostre Dame de Laon, in which the Virgin swoops in to rescue the monks of Laon (on their way to England on a relic tour) from pirates. Thank you for pointing out the absence of cannonballs! That had not occurred to me either!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Week 4: progress has been made, and there is still more to do on these goals.

I was somewhat OBE this week, as I needed time to revise a paper for this weekend's conference. And there were school-related events, and life stuff. But I got good feedback from my IRL writing group about my fellowship proposal. I also marked up a print-out of the Most Complete Chapter, and started to revise it on the computer, but I have quite a lot more to do there. And very soon, too.

So this week's goal remains the same: finish fellowship application (make the answer to "so what?" more obvious) and finish the Sample Chapter revision. Since I need to do those by Wednesday, I'm going to add "get back to this fall's chapter," but in a small way: re-read what I already have, figure out what the next step is.

Cool discovery: this conference paper stuff is very cool, but it really needs one more manuscript, and the *&%$#@! people at Ivy League Library haven't sent me my MS picture yet. I'm trying to figure out when I could just go there already and get this written up properly. Maybe for my spring term project, though I thought that was going to be something else.

Sisyphus said...

Alas, I have been getting up super early and staying up super late every day and I am *still* going to be very late on returning this stack of student essays! Argh.

I have not done a thing towards my research this week and I still have 30 essays to grade this weekend, so it doesn't look promising.

Keeping my original goals for last week for the next check-in.

Dr. Virago said...

OMG, I don't know how I did it, but I met this week's word-count goal. In fact, I exceeded it: I wrote 800+ words.

BUT, I did NOT meet the goal of writing on each of my assigned writing days -- I wrote on only two of them. Had I ABCed (applied butt to chair) all three days, I might now have written over 1000 words. Gr.

I really need to put the damn writing first!

Also, I discovered nothing exciting because I am writing a boring synthesis of my primary field. I did, however, have good news and cool discoveries in my *personal* life, so that's something. But that's off-topic for writing group. I'll blog about it on my own blog.

Gotta walk Princess Pippi now, but I'll try to come back and respond to other group members, too, instead of making it all about ME ME ME!

belledamesansmerci said...

First, my cool thing--it's pretty darn small, but given my week, I'll take it. I was looking through images for Melusine, a legendary ancestor of Guy de Lusignan who was cursed to spend every Saturday as a serpent, when I ran across one that is the double-tailed mermaid of Starbucks fame. Who knew that the founder of Starbucks was a Jean d'Arras fan.

On to goals and progress. My overall goal: [transform a conference paper into a journal article].
Last week's goal: Continue the half-hour a day; decide whether the paper is long enough for article and scout out further examples if necessary.

Not entirely a fail, but far less work done than I would like. I got the half-hour only 3 of the seven days, so not as much progress.

It was one of those weeks where I came in each and every morning to a new forest fire that had to be put out that day. It stinks that I cannot tell my superiors that their lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part, but prior to achieving tenure (and probably even after), it is not possible. Sigh.

So, along with long, hard thinking about what I really what to be when I grow up, and whether I can get there within academia, I will have the same goals as last week:

Continue the half-hour a day; figure out how to lengthen the paper.

I hope to return in the next few days to encourage my compatriots.

Stemi said...

Project goal: Complete and send off a review article
Weekly goal: 1) Identify sections that need more references; 2) Add 500 words to outline file (including rough draft writing)

I did meet the weekly goal, but only because I was ashamed to check in with another failure. I sat down this morning to work on this project for the first time this week (- so much for "daily writing").

The plus side is that I was able to re-acquaint with the project. I outlined a "this is the purpose of this review" section, and I think I might be bringing together results from different research areas to lead to newish ideas. Or, at least, I might be interpreting the results of one research area in the terms and conventions of a different (somewhat distant) research area, bringing those results to a different audience.

Like Dr. Virago, the nature of my project (also, the nature of my goals this week) did not lead to the finding of neat stuff. However, I joined Scholasticamama in the submission of my promotion packet. Unfortunately, I did not join in on the dunes camping, nor on the receipt of news (positive or otherwise) about my packet submission.

Goals for week 5: 1) read one paper for the "sections that need more references" 2) 1000 new words in outline/draft document.

monksandbones said...

I actually accomplished my goals this past week, along with a lot of settling into my research location and sorting out bureaucratic practicalities. My week's moment of geeky glee came when I was out for a walk at noon on Wednesday, and happened across a site that features in my research. Even better, enough of what's there now dates to my period to make it really exciting to wander through!

My goals for the coming week are essentially data-crunching, and a little rereading. In the past week I detected in myself a certain reluctance to data-crunch, so I don't want to give myself a way out of it by say, resolving to write. That's for the following week, after the data is crunched, when it will actually be productive!

In bullet-point form, my goals:

1) Carry out the data-crunching activities outlined in my data-crunching to-do list.

2) Reread the two articles I know of that use the same set of sources.

3) Once again, work on this at least five days this week.

Finally, Notorious, could you perhaps be induced to further share your glee via a reference or two on medieval pirates?

Contingent Cassandra said...

"I did meet the weekly goal, but only because I was ashamed to check in with another failure. I sat down this morning to work on this project for the first time this week (- so much for "daily writing"). "

@Stemi: that's how I completed the entire draft of my undergraduate thesis (and most of the revisions as well): by writing on Thursday nights (and very early Friday mornings) before meetings with my advisor. On the one hand, it does seem like a less-than-ideal, perhaps rather immature, approach to work (this all took place over twenty years ago). On the other hand, I haven't really had an equally successful writing experience since. I suspect that a regular schedule, and having someone to check in with and actually carefully read my stuff every week, and having the luxury of lots of time to write (and procrastinate) all played a role, and the regular schedule is probably the only one many of us can reproduce at the moment. Still, that's something, and even a once-a-week regular schedule is still a regular schedule. There's probably some connection to what Dr. Crazy was saying a few weeks ago: that "write every day" doesn't work for everyone. Of course, "write once a week" is very sensitive to OBE, so I'm not sure that's a great plan either. It sounds like a lot of us are trying to carve out some space somewhere in the middle that allows for both regularity and a degree of flexibility.

Britomart said...

For the second week in a row, I didn't meet my goal. I met the 2 hours/day goal on 2 days - on some other days, I did work on my project, but other days did nothing. Course-planning still took up a lot of time, and I also wrote and submitted a proposal to a conference CFP. These excuses don't really justify or rationalize my failure, though.

Goal for next week: Same as this week, to work 2 hours per day.

Neat stuff: I spent a good deal of time this week reading this book, which turned out to be a wonderful collection and very germane to my project.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi folks!

Okay, I've been getting stuff done, so my apologies for not getting back to you with feedback sooner. But here goes:

@ Matilda: Tentatively following several directions sounds like a good plan for now. Sooner or later one of them will emerge as the one you want to follow. At that point, put the rest away in a drawer and head forward.

@ Viola: My favorite trick for this (and maybe you know this one already?) is to read my work out loud. The ear catches many things that the eye misses.

@ Cly: finding the new work plan sounds like a good idea. As we've discussed over the past few weeks, what matters is that you find a plan you can stick to, and one that doesn't have so many gaps that you forget where you were the last time you left it.

@ Lucie: Welcome back! I like to write first thing in the morning, too – it's the one time when my brain is relatively uncluttered.

@ Dr. Crazy: Shame? I advise you to read this wise post (especially the bit where she says "I forgive myself if life gets in the way"):

@ Adelaide: Okay, so not a great week, writing-wise. You've hit the restart button, which is good. Can you think of concrete steps you can take to make this week work better than the previous one? One or two roadblocks that you can either remove or skirt around?

@ Scholasticmama: One of my graduate professors advised doing my work at a table in the library: "Because that way, when you need to take a break, you're probably going to pick up some random book, and you'll end up learning something, even when you don't mean to."

@ Heu Mihi: So you've established what you can and can't do in a week. That's important. And it looks like you've recalibrated to something more reasonable, so that's excellent for things moving forward.

@ Luolin: If you've got a good outline, one thing you can do is impose a bit of tunnel vision on yourself, pick a discrete section of it (say, something that is 5-8 pages long), and say: "I can write that this week. I don't need to worry about anything else right now." ADM had a good marathon metaphor last week, so I'll borrow it, and guess that most marathoners mentally break up the long race into manageable chunks: Just the next mile. Just to that next telephone pole.

@ Janice: Good on you for letting your project evolve! Sometimes it's easy to get stalled in the project we thought we should be writing. Getting rid of ideas that aren't serving us anymore is immensely liberating.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Comments, continued…

@ ABDMama: Our enthusiasm for projects – even ones that we like very much – ebbs and flows. So thinking of that One Cool Thing sometimes helps us reconnect with the writer we were when we started.

@ Mike: Hooray for discovering a treasure trove! That's always such a great feeling.

@ Contingent Cassandra: Sounds like you're planning for your Events in advance, which can help you keep going. And yes: you need sleep to write well – and just to be able to function, period. As far as worried about what's going to happen when those Saturdays disappear: Can I recommend that you keep on journaling (even for ten minutes) about the project on the days when you can't really "work" on it? It'll help keep you connected.

@ Undine: Gotcha. So what's the goal for the upcoming week?

@ Digger: I like this: "Even a few exhausted minutes of writing led to a breakthrough." Ideally, we spend more than a few minutes. But your comment is proof that taking even those few minutes is not going to be wasted effort. Writers, take note!

@ Zcat: Between you & Dr. Crazy, "not killing people" seems to be a theme. Hm… (And I'm just going to grab the one article-related thing for your goal, but one thing is just fine.)

@ Scatterwriter: Putting research ahead of teaching is something I do from time to time as well. And then the grading piles up and I have to switch. And then I miss my research or I have a deadline and it switches back again. Someday I will find that perfect balance point. But as long as the overall effect is a rough equilibrium, I think this is a functional approach.

@ Jennifer: Welcome back! And I think there are some Spanish stories (in the Cantigas de Santa Maria?) as well of the Virgin Mary rescuing people from pirates, or maybe even converting Muslim pirates to Christianity (and drowning the others, I think). Hmmm… Intriguing!

@ Dame Eleanor: Good on the feedback! That's one thing that I regret we can't do here without asking people to give up anonymity. So I'm glad your IRL group is giving you that.

@ Sisyphus: Okay. Get those papers off your desk. Do not get discouraged.

@ Dr. Virago: Congratulations! Let's focus on the goal met, rather than the one you didn't meet. And as for the latter: identify and remove one obstacle. Just one. See if that shakes things loose, even a bit. But don't let yourself feel badly, because you did make your word count goal.

More comments on the way...

Notorious Ph.D. said...

And the last (for now) batch of comments:

@ belledame: I saw tons of siren-themed capitals in my recent trip to Blargistan. Mostly in late-Romanesque structures – they appear to have disappeared by the Gothic. I wonder if that means anything. Was there a vogue for a while?

@ Stemi: Okay, so shame isn't the most happy-making motivator, but now that you've experienced it, it might send you in a more productive direction going forward this next week? Whatever you do, don't stay in that feeling. And focus on how you're now better acquainted with your project than you were a week ago. What are you taking away from that and into the week to come? And good luck on that promotion packet! (You, too, Scholasticmama – sorry I missed seeing that above)

@ Monksandbones: Hooray for geeky glee! I don't often get to see things like that, but when I do, it makes me feel like my research might – just might – matter to someone besides myself.

@ Britomart: Okay, it sounds like you're stuck in a rut. How do we pull you out and get you moving forward again, so this doesn't become a self-reinforcing pattern? 1) Stop beating yourself up. 2) Look back at the last two weeks, and ask yourself: "What would have been a more realistic goal?" Then make that your goal for this week. 3) (repeating what I've said above to a couple other group members) See if you can identify just one obstacle, and for one week, remove it. (And congrats on finding that useful book!)

I think that catches me up for the moment? Keep those check-ins coming! And I promise not to delay so long in my responses this time.

Susan said...

@Scholasticamama, I'd echo Dr. C: a few sentences, and then references to some recent articles that discuss this more generally, or if there is a recent review essay in your field, that would be good.

So as for the geeky pleasure: I figured out that my project is really analyzing some of the methods by which patriarchal equilibrium is maintained. And I'm excited!!!! (This project has lots of crazy emotional baggage,as it was not originally mine, and the things that I can do to make it mine, and make it exciting, are, well, exciting.

So my goal this week was to write 500 words, and I actually wrote more like 700. A book I needed from ILL arrived, and I could fill that in. Then a friend sent me an essay he had written, and that helped me finish up some of the earlier discussion. And then I wrote on patriarchal equilibrium. I think I have a pretty good sense of what the rest of this essay needs, and how I'm going to do it.

(By the way, this is the way I work -- I have a very general outline, and then I gradually get a feel for how the pieces of the outline get fleshed out. I can NEVER write a detailed outline before I start writing.)

My goal for next week: aim for another 500 words. I left myself a note of where I go next, and I think that's what I'll do, though just writing this I've figured out other things I could do. So it will depend how I feel next Friday morning. (And really, it's Friday and Saturday when I can write. Which is why I keep checking in on Saturdays!)

Contingent Cassandra said...

"By the way, this is the way I work -- I have a very general outline, and then I gradually get a feel for how the pieces of the outline get fleshed out. I can NEVER write a detailed outline before I start writing."

@Susan: I think that might be the way I work best, too. I wouldn't be surprised if my final article bears little resemblance to my current outline. But trying to write my way into my dissertation (at a time when I was also learning to teach comp in a very process-oriented way) didn't work out well at all. And I'm going to have to finish this article in very small fits and starts (I like Notorious' journaling idea, and am encouraged by Digger's breakthrough), and I think an outline will help with that (though I suspect it won't really all fall together until I have a chance to spend some concentrated time looking at the big picture -- which may well be past our 12 weeks, but that doesn't preclude producing a shitty -- and messy, still-to-be-(re)organized -- first draft).

Digger said...

Spent some time filling in gaps in the area of the breakthrough, and it feels a bit like it's getting away from me again... only this time, the theme is staying the same, so that's progress! I need to pull out overall themes from other people's work that mesh/vary from where I'm going.

Scrivener is making this interesting. As I flit from section to section (holding pre-conceived themes), I'm beginning to see that they're all part of the same thing, and not distinct at all. This is good = cohesion; this is bad = back to all in a lump. Hopefully I can make this lump smaller and more manageable than it was...

Any suggestions on focusing on the work? I am so scatter brained, I'm finding all the reasons in the world, from laundry to eating, to getting to it "in a minute"...

jamilajamison said...

I'm happy to report that I have just completed 1 out of 4 sections of the thesis chapter that I'm trying to finish up. I was going to try for 2 sections but I found my interest and energy flagging after a couple of hours.

What I've learned is that I tackle academic writing very, very different from creative writing. Whereas I can submerge myself in my creative tales for hours at a time before surfacing for air, I tend to lose interest incredibly quickly with academic projects. I think 2 hours (with frequent breaks throughout) is the longest I can keep things up, so I'm making myself a schedule where I work for 2 hours on the thesis roughly 5 out of 7 days of the week.

With that said, for the coming week, I'd like to bump up the stakes a bit and complete two more sections of this chapter. That means that I should be able to turn the chapter draft in to my advisor by the middle of October, which would be excellent.

Now, a fun thing that happened this week... I ended up reading through the inaugural issue of Cultural Sociology the other night, and stumbled upon a number of fascinating critiques of Pierre Bourdieu (whose work on taste and aesthetics crops up in my thesis). My mind is churning as I think about how I might use employ these critiques, or at least engage with them, so hopefully this will be useful fuel to propel me forward in the week to come!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Digger: Focus is a problem for me, too. Someone last session suggested the "Pomodoro Method". You can google it -- there's a lot to it. But the one part of it that I've used is the simplest one: the timer.

Get a timer. You're going to set it for a totally reasonable amount of time: 10 minutes, or 12, or 15 (no more at first; you'll work up). The important thing is that it's an amount of time you *know* you can work without interrupting. Start the timer, and put it somewhere you won't be looking at it. Work until it goes off -- without interruption. Then take a 3-4 minute break. Repeat a couple more times. Then take a longer break -- that particular work session is done. Do another one later in the day.

Gradually, you'll add a minute or two to your timer, until you're up to 25 minute focus sessions, with a 5 minute break between. I started out at 12 minutes, and it sounds too simple to work, but it DOES.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

(BTW, by "gradually," I meant that you increase your focus time every couple of weeks. I'm up to 17 minutes at a time now, but even when I was at 12, I was amazed at how much I could get done quickly. I think the trick is knowing that that timer would go off, and I'd have a quick break at the end. That freed me up, somehow.)

sophylou said...

OK, um, I said I was dropping out, largely because September was, as expected, hellacious. But now it's October, September's Septemberness is receding, I got two much-needed critiques of the draft from two completely different scholars... and they had exactly the same question. So tonight, I sneaked up on my article and have rewritten my introduction. I now need to cut the article down by 600 words, which is going to involve both condensing and new writing to incorporate stuff from the new introduction.

Since I may or may not actually be in the group anymore, no response necessary :) Just wanted to respond to being on the absence list, and to report some actual progress.

Susan said...

@Contingent Cassandra: the other thing I've learned about my process is that the order of the sections changes. As I write, the sequence is developed. And sometimes what I thought was a big header is a sub-head, and vice versa. I'm probably a comp teacher's nightmare, but I've written two books this way, so I'm not fighting it!

Amstr said...

Amstr [revise and resubmit an article]: 1) write argument statement, note where argument is in article, and revise to make argument clear and prominent; 2) outline article, review WYJA on “solving structural problems,” and revise for structure; 3) “read,” annotate, and incorporate 10 sources

The first two tasks sounded not so hard until I started. Then I realized I didn't really have an argument in the first half (or a thesis statement, or really an introductory paragraph), and thus my structure sucked. So I've spent most of the afternoon yammering at my husband (a computer scientist who tries hard to make sense of what the heck it is that I do) trying to figure out how it all fits together. The end result is an argument (yay!) and a detailed structure (double yay!). I also read and annotated 8 articles--not quite to my goal of 10, but I'll take it.

Thanks to the writing group check-in for motivation. I likely would have left the hard tasks of revisiting argument and structure for next week, and I would have been much further behind and much more guilt-ridden.

Evening work did get OBE, as ADM predicted, but I did get one good evening of work in. I'm realizing that I need to plan easy stuff for evening work time and I need to have a time limit. An hour or an hour and a half would help immensely. (I'd even settle for half an hour.)

My problem now: I will likely need to do some major structural changes and edits, and my editors have asked that I make all changes to the particular Word document that they've commented on. I've been writing in Scrivener and tend to do better starting with a blank section and rewriting (+ some cut+paste). Any advice?

***For next week: 1) reorganize essay according to new structure plan; 2) add argument-related sentence to the beginning and end of each paragraph; 3) write a strong intro, especially paying attention to critical context; 4) 4 more articles: read, annotate, possibly incorporate; 5) keep in mind this is a week that will end OBD and be gracious with myself.

Cool thing: I'm working on Spenser's The Faerie Queene right now, and I found an article with a passage on Britomart looking in Merlin's magic mirror (described as round and hollow-shaped) where the author contrasted Britomart looking in the presumably concave mirror with Elizabeth who would have looked in a convex mirror. I totally geeked out at all the mirroring.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

More comments for everyone in a couple hours, but...

@ Sophylou -- my fault there. ADM and I are swapping rosters as we swap weeks, and I was still working off the week one roster. E-mail me about your status?

Antikate said...

Completely and utterly OBE this week. (In a way I really should have foreseen.) My parents came to town for a long visit, and while I really thought I'd have time to at least read the sample articles, if not get some writing done, neither of those things has in any way happened. So.

Onward. Next week, while I'm tempted to up the word count on my goal as an ambitious response to getting off track, I'm pretty sure that would just come back to bite me. So I'll stick to the goal I had for this week, and just make it happen this time around. 1000 words and two sample articles to read. Bring it.

(Since I didn't touch the project at all this week, there weren't any moments of geeky bliss, and I can't remember anything more specific from the preceding week than the feeling of "oh yeah, I *like* these plays!" But I will be on the lookout for those moments of fun and inspiration this week...)

Evan said...

Quite OBE this week (at a conference) but that was anticipated. I took 'The Meaning of David Cameron' with me and flicked through a few other books on the New Right, so I kind of achieved my goal for the week.

What is more promising is that I realised in reading my other stuff on '1968' that there's a whole bunch of stuff that I wrote for my PhD, but let out of the final draft that would be quite useful for this conference paper.

Therefore my goal of the week is to re-read this stuff and see what can be cut n pasted. This may very well help me form a framework for the conference paper.

nakedphilologist said...

Not too crash hot on the process goal yet: I didn't get writing done every day. I did get the incorporation of the 2000 words from the previous chapter; and I started on the intro to the new chapter. Didn't get any note-taking done, but a surprising amount of reading in French instead,

For this week - repeat the process goal: thesis work every day. Finish the first point; note-take from the French book.

- Highlyeccentric

Lucie said...

Just checking back in to second the Pomodoro technique to help focus the mind. I use this about half the time and it helps when I have a clear task to do but am having trouble concentrating, or getting down to it.

bitterandjaded said...

Hello everyone,

Quick check-in so that I can get back to it.

This week was not as productive on this project as I would have hoped.

I was able take the notes that I have an get them into a cohesive narrative. It's a much less "drafty" draft at this point and it's something I'm not embarrassed to give to someone other than my husband to read.

I probably added about 2000 words, but I also deleted quite a bit too. I'm starting to get comfortable with deleting text, so that's a big step. In all it was a good week, but it wasn't an exciting week.

This week my goal reading and1) take notes of the one of the primary texts I'm dealing with in this chapter. Since this is notes, I'm not sure that there will be a word count, or that it will contribute to the length of the chapter. But I'm pretty sure I can get at least 1000 words of solid writing out of it.

Forthright said...

This week my goal was really too modest; putting the skeleton together was really less problematic than I thought it would be. I have a huge mass of interview / observational data that I have now sorted according to that skeleton, which will let me insert it much more effectively.

Cool discovery this week: well, I identified a type of event that was occurring frequently in my data, which I had known was happening but hadn't really realized how widespread and distinct it was, and developed a new term to describe it, of which I'm rather proud.

For this week I will be slightly OBE because I have to help format bibliographies on another project because my co-editor is *also* OBE ... But because I'm on sabbatical I should still be able to make good progress on this project.

My new goal for this week is to write every day on the paper I have now outlined, and to identify and read additional journal literature for that paper.


Matilda said...

thank you very much for your comment. Probably I might be able to develop another paper/article from the argument directions which I might have to discard this time. I hope so. I always appreciate you and ADM's comments. Thank you.
Happy staying in Europe! Good luck for your dissertation!

anotherdamnedmedievalist said...

Ok -- I just wrote a blog post of excuses, and then just cut it to post at my blog.

Haven't met goals. Am ok with that, because instead, I have focused on catching up a bit on my class backlog, which is huge. More importantly, I decided that this week and next, I am focusing on my health, specifically sleep and exercise. I've managed five nights of 7+ hours sleep this week, and at least three have been about 8 hours. No exercise except one night of tango for Hispanic Heritage week, which thing three of my colleagues were involved in, and so it was sort of service/collegiality, but also exercise! (going to try to get to the gym and run today -- maybe even get up to where I can finish a 5k on the 15th), but already, I'm feeling a little more in control, and some of the medical problems seem to be improving. I'm really good with that. And next week, I'm going to continue on the catch-up, and on the focusing on health issues.

I know these aren't writing group things, but they are just plain integral to my being able to write.

So next week's goal is to do something tangible. I am not sure what. I may take time today to make the notes I planned. And those will definitely be done by next week. Also, I am going to have my journal up for my students to look at (see my place for details, but I'm teaching methods and thought it might be good to let them see me working on a paper along the same timeline that they are working on a paper). But for this week, I'm going to try to keep on with the sleep (better living through chemistry!) and getting me into a place where I can do what I need to to make it through the semester AND meet my writing group final goal.

Dr. Crazy said...

Notorious - I know you're right about the forgiving myself - actually, admitting I had a problem was my first step on the road to recovery. I had to force myself not to scramble to try to have something to post here, and just fess up, if that makes sense. Once I did that, I actually didn't feel badly about not meeting my goals this week. I'll post more about this over at my place maybe, but basically, I know that it's true that sometimes I need to get my life in order or I can't make progress on research. Now is one of those times.

anotherdamnedmedievalist said...

and a big "so say we all" to Dr Crazy and Notorious!

Contingent Cassandra said...

Getalifephd (a blog which strikes me, depending on the week and my own mood, as potentially useful, annoyingly chipper, or, more than occasionally, both) has a post up on the pomodoro technique, with links to others' posts on the same subject: .

Scatterwriter said...

@Amstr -- do your editors want you making changes in your Word document so that they can use the Track Changes function? If so, I would think it would be possible to write in Scrivener and then cut and paste into Word, with Track Changes on, making sure to replace chunks of your old draft with chunks of the new. If that makes sense.

@ADM -- health before work has been my motto since tenure. (Am a little appalled that that wasn't my priority before tenure...)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Susan: Hooray for finding a hook to hang your project on! I'm still looking for mine. I have the big, fake one that goes in all the proposals, but I haven't had that moment of inspiration, where the project tells me what it's about.

@Jamila: That's a good thing to know – the point where you hit the point of diminishing returns. Then you honor that. As for next week, make sure (based on this week) that you're not setting your goals too high.

@Amstr: 8 articles?!? Holy god, woman! That's amazing! But even better is the news that you have a real argument (You & Susan seem to be on the same page here). Congratulations!

@ Antikate: I think you're right about not trying to make up for a week in which you fell short of your goals by setting yourself up to fall short again. If last week's goal would have been reasonable, then go for that again. In that way, I think you and I are at about the same point – didn't quite get it done, but I know why, and what I actually need to do.

@ Evan: Excellent: let no words go wasted.

@ Nakedphilologist/highlyeccentric: Yes, that foreign-language reading will set you back. That's why I've set my goal at 3-4 articles per week only. But keep moving forward on that process goal. If you find that it's really not working for you, then think about restructuring your goals.

@ Bitter and Jaded: The ability to delete chunks of text is a good skill to have. It's always hard (I've had to do it twice – once to 20,000 words and once to 8,000), but it's also liberating, especially when you see how much better your project flows afterwards.

@ Forthright: Oh, hooray for a week that's less problematic than expected – I order you to revel in it! And a new discovery, too? What a week!

@ ADM: I know a bit about your health problems, so I totally get this. Take care of yourself, and get back to us as soon as you can.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

And also to ADM (on the last comment): Nerd. ;-)

A.M. Christensen said...

Hello to all,

Project: finish article based on conference papers.
Last week's goal: write at least 20 minutes for at least 5 days and read 1 main text

My cool moment was coincidentally twofold and the project side of it was quite brief, alas! As I was reading my main text last week, I found a citation I have either overlooked or never seen in the past from Ennius, who uses the Latin verb urvare to indicate "ploughing around". A bit of my project hinges on Livy's use of circumarare "to plough around". So I was excited that I might be able to open up whole new avenues of research with authors who use urvare. Unfortunately, no one seems to use urvare other than Ennius, who is only cited by Festus. But the long-lasting cool thing about this was that at the same time I came across the reference, I also learned that Packard Humanities has made its PHI Latin texts disk available on the web! So I quickly went over there and checked out my new verb.

Onto the project status: last week was not the best. I did read a large part of my 1 text and found a number of potentially helpful references. On the Writing 20/5 days I did not do as well. I managed two days. This was largely due to the fact that I had been asked a few weeks ago to give a guest lecture about another project I am involved with on this Thursday past. Well, I unfortunately didn't plan prep for that talk into the rest of my life and spent the first part of the week cramming that together amongst the other stuff.

This next week is going to be hectic as we are drawing to midterm. I have a stack of grading to accomplish before fall break the week after and midterms and study guides and paper assignments to devise. So my goal for next week will be to write for at least 20 minutes every day. I luckily only teach four days a week this semester, which means if I can stick to the 20 minutes Monday-Wednesday when I have lesson prep, I really should be able to pull it off by the end of the week. I just have to avoid that "thank god we have a week off, I can do absolutely nothing for a day or two" feeling!

Happy writing to all!

A.M. Christensen said...

A.M. Christensen is really amcalm25. Sorry about that, I started a blog and am having trouble juggling gmail accounts and names!

NWGirl said...

Reporting late to say that I have been OBE all week. I thought I might catch up yesterday, but ended up using the day to clean my home office and just clear the head.

I'm behind on grading, barely keeping ahead on prep, so my writing time has taken a hit. I certainly recognize myself in ADM's blog post of excuses. And some family-related health stuff has threatened to overwhelm me as well. So I'm here, but I got nothin'!

So goals for next week are the same as last week:

Work on list of sources for chapter; 2). Work on outline; 3) Write 500 words x 4 days.

I saw the comments about the pomodoro method. For anyone who is interested, you can set up a free account at I've found it helpful when I'm having trouble focusing on the task at hand, especially when I look at that long list of completed "tomatoes." Hmm, I may head over there, too.

opsimathphd said...

I was one of the absentees last week--definitely OBE--so I tried to make working on the article my top priority this week, and I did fairly well. Not actual usable writing yet, but about 1000 words of the crap I write to figure out what I'm thinking, which was really helpful. I'm all over the map in terms of goals right now, but I would say my main goal right now is to develop a more sophisticated argument, and the reading I've been doing is definitely helping with that.

So, goals for next week:
- develop an argument that I can run with
- 1500 words of "figure out what I'm thinking" writing
- 500 words of actual writing, maybe based on the dissertation chapter.
- try to get back to a schedule where I am ready to report progress on Friday or Saturday rather than Sunday

I too was lucky enough to have a wonderful oh, wow moment this week. What I'm working on has to do with the wider effects, particularly in gender terms, of a technological change which has been ignored except by specialists. A lot of people have pointed out that when an occupation which had been primarily for women becomes commercialized, men generally take over (the most nuanced version of this idea is in Judith Bennett's book on brewsters).

I've been looking for a new way to approach what has by now become a truism, and I stumbled upon a real treasure trove of articles by archaeologists and anthropologists on the subject, one of which actually graphs gender variants in my particular technology against degrees of commercialization. Definitely a great geeky moment (speaking of which, hooray for BSG references!).

I also wanted to thank the organizers of this blog: finally finishing my dissertation has meant, along with the good things, no longer having anyone to nudge me along. I'm thus very glad to have a place to check in. ( I do miss being part of an academic community, and if anyone in this group who is feeling isolated wants to set up a private correspondence to exchange ideas and/or actual writing, please speak up.)

opsimathphd said...

P.S.: As an addendum to the Pomodoro technique, I wanted to mention a piece of software I love (Mac only, alas) called Vitamin-R. It's essentially a sophisticated timer, but it's made for writers, with lots of ways of keeping yourself on track, adding ideas, leaving yourself some breadcrumbs to start the next session with, and so on. It keeps a log for you of your working periods, there's a white noise generator, etc. etc.

Salimata said...

Quick, before it's too late: I *didn't* meet my process goals--so I need to continue to work on that, establishing a regular writing routine that allows me to do a little bit of writing every day, even if I really don't have time to do any writing. Maybe I'll also give the pomodoros a try, heard good things about this method.

I *did* meet my goal of reading three secondary lit books on the general topic for this paper, but the not-so-good thing about it was that I did it all yesterday and today.

I had a cool discovery, though, in that two of the books mentioned that, let's call it "blueberry picking" was a fundamental part of ethics in the Westerns philosophical tradition--my dissertation was about blueberry picking in my region of West Africa, and this paper is supposed to be about the the moral implications of blueberry picking in my region--something I had hinted at in the diss, but ended up not writing too much about.

Digger said...

Thanks all for the links/discussion about the pomodoro technique. I'll give it a whirl this week and report back!

Opsimathphd... as an archaeologist, I'm intrigued! If you click through to my profile, you'll find my contact info.

Kris said...

My goal for the week was to finish the reading and then write a front section to contextualise the problem.

I finished the reading and note taking but didn't do the writing. I was slammed with some unexpected and non-negotiable extras at work and these ate up my time and more to the point, caused a great deal of anxiety for me as I tried to stick with the plan and do all the extra tasks.

So rather than try to push through I accepted the writing wasn't going to happen. Counter-intuitively, I feel this is a positive outcome, because not so long ago I would have kept going to finish the goal, come hell or high water, and no matter how that impacted on my health or my happiness.

This week is pretty awful in terms of other deadlines but on the plus side, there's a public holiday on my teaching day so I"m not facing lecture prep. I'll re-institute the second half of my goal from this past week, and plan to write the context section at the beginning.

A.M. Christensen said...

Thanks to all for the heads up on the pomodoro/my tomatoes info - it's new to me and seems like potentially helpful tool. I've tried a timer before with varied success. Someone needs to develop an add-on to word processing programs that actually times how long one has been typing away and then after a set time period have some reward offered, like a round of solitaire or angry birds. But also one should be able to delay the reward and save it up for something better if one is on a roll. hmmmm, too bad I don't know a thing about computer programming or software design or whatever it would be!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Well, Scrivener's got a session word-count (one that keeps track of deletions as well, so it's a net word counter) that you set at the beginning of your session. Then it puts a little progress bar at the bottom of your active screen that fills up *and* turns from red to yellow to green as you approach the session goal you've set for yourself. It's not a timer, but it is a neat feature.

Marie said...

Well, I'm not even checking what my goal was supposed to be this week. And I've decided that's ok, since I did get about 800 words written, which is a good thing. I think this week's goal will be to do that again. (Why can't we set goals like "No Drama This Week"? Oh well.)

Merryweather said...

Thing that interested me this week (not sure it really qualifies as cool): thinking about how to square the circle between my critique of the state in country x in century y, and my political sense in the here-and-now that what we need is for the state to do more.

Did I do what I was supposed to? Well, I read the ILL books, more or less, and I worked the 4 hours M-Th. On Friday, I spent way too much time putzing around, and doing admin-related emails, and probably only spent about 2-3 hours on real thinking/researching. I wrote a bit about the literature, and I wrote a kind of a plan, so that's good, but I don't really feel that I'm confident about what I'm saying yet. The basic problem of this article is that it doesn't have a really powerful proper argument. It was commissioned by the editors ('please write a chapter on thing x for our book, and then we'll pay something towards your trip to our conference'). The result is that I don't really feel this is *my* thing.

Anyway, too much ramble: this week I will write 1500 words. I am scared of that target, but I really have to get writing.

thefrogprincess said...

Short update: I worked on stuff, mainly the introduction, and I did some bit of work on the days I said I would.

What I'm finding is that I'm very scattered when it comes to the logistics required to get stuff done quickly. Books and documents are either at home or in the office and, this week the OBE/AC drama of last week continued and I was stuck at home away from my books. Today I went to the campus library hoping to bury myself in books, only to find that the students actually use the damn thing and finding a seat anywhere on the six floors was difficult, let alone near the books I actually needed. So logistics are overcoming me.

That said, I've got about two weeks left, so...

Goal for next week, pretty much same as last: really finish and submit introduction; do something with chapter 1; start outlining conclusion.

Trapped in Canadia said...

I battled with a migraine for an entire week. I'm fairly happy with the 200 words I wrote because of that migraine. This is my week, though, to really get on top of things. There is nothing that will stop me (famous last words, right?)!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

What I notice, reading through everyone's reports, is that although we are almost all struggling with how to get writing done while teaching, we are ENGAGED with that problem. And a lot of people are managing at least 1-2 sessions a week, or meeting some very small goals, and that's really good, because you can feel successful about meeting small goals and about writing regularly even if it's just once or twice a week. How were you doing before the writing group came along? Bingeing before deadlines? Giving up on research at some point during the semester? If you used to accept that situation, then in a sense this whole 12-week stint is "week 1" of WYJA, figuring out how to get yourself set up to work. Discouragement is the wrong response! I'm seeing a lot of people really committed to regular writing and figuring out not just what's keeping them from that but also how to address the obstacles.

Also "sneaking up on" a piece of writing is a great idea. Sometimes even in a totally OBE week it is possible to sneak in some writing if it feels like an illicit pleasure or at least a thrilling chase.

zcat_abroad said...

In fact, as Dame Eleanor points out, especially if it's an illicit pleasure or thrilling chase!

Good Enough Woman said...

Just under the wire!

project: solide draft of dissertation chapter

This week: I read two articles, one chapter from a secondary book, and two chapters of Descartes. I didn't,however, read 50 pages of a primary source. This weekend was absolutely beautiful, so the family went to an awesome, clandestine camping spot. It was totally worth getting behind. And I am behind--with everything!

This week is a heavy grading and service week, so I'm planning just to read 50 primary source pages, one article, and two chapters of Descartes, taking notes on each.

As for my cool thing? Magicians and Necromancers! (to add to the pirates and demons)

luolin88 said...

I don't think I posted a goal for the week. 1. Revise the outline and use it to organize my thoughts and the paper. 2. skim a new batch of references to see if I need to read them of if they are really just a distraction from writing.

Good Enough Woman said...

My clandestine camping spot was in some sand dunes! Just like Scholasticmama's camping . . .

ABDMama said...

@Notorious: Thank you for the session word count tip on Scrivener. I had not found that yet. I'm also intrigued by @opsimathphd's Vitamin-R suggestion. I think I'll try out the Scrivener one first and see if it helps buckle me down during writing sessions.

Now to find it on the program...

Amstr said...

For session/word count stuff: for fear of negative consequences + positive celebration if you succeed (there's an online version that you can use in the right-hand column)
and gives out badges for writing regularly, though the goal is and can only be 750 words daily.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Well, it's near midnight here, I just graded all the papers, and now it's time to put week four (and myself) to bed. But before I do, a few final comments:

@ AM Christiensen/amcalm25: What you're doing this week with regards to upcoming events is good: you're acknowledging what the limitations are, setting appropriate goals, and planning for writing accordingly. Forward!

@ NW girl: you know, the dissertation group that inspired this included reports like yours -- we met at the advisor's home, and we all understood that he would understand if one week or another we just had too much to do, and so had to report no forward movement. So your check-in is good, because you're keeping accountable... and you know that you want to have more to report next week. (It always worked for us, so I believe it will for you, too.)

@ opsimathphd: By breaking through a big idea, you have made progress. And now you have a plan to put that progress on paper this week. So keep that in mind: get that argument down before it melts away from you, yes? And chances are that the act of writing will help you better articulate it.

@ Salimata: Nice catch on the connection! I always love it when reading outside the lines, so to speak, yields something valuable. We should all be doing more of it (she says, staring at the stack of in-the-lines reading still left to do...)

@ Kris: This all sounds fine. So you haven't let go of the goal -- you've just spread it out to more realistically accommodate your actual life this semester. You might want to look at the schedule going forward as well, to see if any more major recalibration is in order.

@ Marie: Okay, keep on trucking there. And 800 words is better than zero words, right? As for the "no drama this week" suggestion: We are all about setting realistic goals. ;-)

@ Merryweather: I had a couple of putzing days this week, too. Like Dr. Crazy above, I mentally beat myself up about them. But the trick is to tell ourselves that that is in the past, and set our sights on moving forward in a way that we respect for ourselves.

@ Frogprincess: What?!? Students use your library? What kind of crazy place is this? But yeah: I've had that same "Where does everything live" problem -- though mostly with grading. I don't kid myself even for a moment that I'm going to get research done on campus, because... well, my particular office environment just isn't conducive to such things.

@ Trapped in Canadia: Ouch. Sorry to hear that. As I've said to a few others: Forward!

@ Good Enough Woman: Sometimes we need to refresh the spirit, and remember that writing is one of the many things we do.

Okay, that's it. It's 11:30 here, so I'm off to bed. Thanks for checking in, everyone, and we'll see you next week over at ADM's place!