Okay, moving on…
We're at week five, and by now, some of you are undoubtedly saying, "Wow! I had no idea I could write so much so quickly! Dang! Why haven't I been doing this all along?"
For many, however, this is about the point where we start losing steam. Often it's because we've been Overcome By Events. OBE can arise from expected causes – a conference, a vacation, a family visit. It can also be the result of unforseen events: illness (yours or a family member's), or another project that pops up and demands your immediate attention (ADM talked last week about strategies for juggling projects). Or you could have just been hit by severe lethargy, gotten sucked in by Hulu or Netflix or an ambition to read the complete works of Dickens, and let a two-day break stretch into two weeks, and now you don't know how to get back again. These things do happen, and while we strive to be dedicated writers who meet our goals, we are not machines.
But also: Let's talk about how to keep a detour from becoming a permanent derailment. After all, if you get derailed, you become demoralized, which makes it even harder to get started again. It's happened to all of us, but this summer is going to be different.
Yes, it is.
Because I say so, that's why.
A few weeks ago, ADM threw out a discussion topic that only a few people picked up on, but now I'd like to revive it, because the comments from last week suggest that it's critical at this point: When you can't write for reasons that are out of your control, what specific thing will you do to stay engaged, and keep from losing momentum? There were some good ideas that happened to pop up in the comments last week over at ADM's place: carve out 90 minutes in the morning during a family visit; use the time period that you know will be unproductive to sketch out a specific work plan for when you return; journal daily about your ideas; have a small and easily interruptable project to work on if you're waiting for feedback or temporarily can't get sustained work time on the big project (like, say, when you're traveling).
The important thing here is to have a plan in place to stay engaged. It's hard to get started again after an absence, and the longer we stay away, the more chance we give fear and demoralization to creep in.
So remember that you made a commitment to yourself. You will feel better every day that you honor that commitment. I promise.
Week 5 roll call (with goals from last week):
- ABDMama [Draft of an article MS]: finishing up all the new primary sources and secondary sources.
- ADM [conference paper for Leeds; revision of paper after]: work on Leeds paper [?]
- Bardiac [Review-ready article MS]: has a work plan for this week [NPhD: specifics will help you stay on track]
- Dame Eleanor [Revising a conference paper into article MS]: Overcome by events
- Digger [drafts of two book chapters]: edit the now typology-timeline chapter into something presentable, plus two smallish side projects
- Dr. Koshary [Review-ready article MS]: no specific goal for this week?
- Erika [Review-ready draft of an article MS]: wrap up reading in primary sources and get a modest amount added to the draft
- Firstmute [chapter draft; send out article]: have the article in shape to send to my advisor by Friday; secondary goal of putting in 1 hr a day on the chapter.
- Frog Princess [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: finish chapter, have the back broken on the introduction
- J. Otto Pohl [Complete draft of 2/3-finished book MS]: make up for some of the lost productivity of last week [Here again, I strongly suggest setting more concrete goals to help you stay on track]
- Jeff [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: take another run at revising the Nth chapter [NPhD: is this meant to be a complete revision, or a revision of specific sections?]
- Jen [Revising conference paper into article MS]: catch up from vacation [can you be specific?]
- Kit: [Kit, do we have a specific project goal for you?] A week of meeting daily writing goals of 500 words
- Matilda [Draft of a publishable paper]: work through week 5 section of WYJA, esp. working on draft [specific goal: can you finish that draft? Or a specific chunk of it?]
- Mel [NPhD: Mel, what was your overall project?]: finish Chapter 4 by Monday, then start ch. 5, w/goal of intro and methods section done by Friday
- NWGirl [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: finish the current section and start work on the second section.
- Ro [MS revision (NPhD: article?)]: Traveling + family visit, so continue with research readings plus sketch out a plan for work that I can pick up upon my return the following week [not a bad way to deal with necessary diversions – sketching the plan keeps you mentally engaged with the project]
- Sapience [diss chapter]: start working on advisor's suggestions for revisions; backup plan is write the abstract for the CFP and/or start revising the job market materials. [I like this idea of having a backup plan; it helps you keep momentum]
- Sara [Revision of research exam]: Travel this week; can't make concrete plans
- Scholastic Mama [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: revise argument and choose one more secondary journal, in case the first journal does not pan out
- Susan [Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS]: a weekend trip to Paris [okay: envious], no specific goals while traveling, other than general progress
- Tigs [Completed diss draft]: Rework intro and frame for ch. 2; more generally, work consistently every day
- Travelia [Write two conference papers]: No specific goals; week of travel/conference
- What Now [Polished book proposal]: write 2000 words by next Friday
- Zabeel [Draft first two sections of new article]: working consistently, including both reading and writing [can you set yourself a more specific goal, either in terms of words/pages/hours per day? The same 3 hrs per day that you set previously?]
Awaiting report [NB: we are assuming that participants who have been MIA for three or more consecutive weeks have found themselves unable to continue with the group at this time, so if your name has disappeared from the list, that's why]
- Caleb Woodbridge [MA thesis]*
- Cly [revise article for publication & draft chapter for book]*
- Eileen [First draft of a dissertation chapter]*
- Gillian [an article that needs writing]*
- Godiva [First draft of diss. chap.]*
- Jason [First draft of a dissertation chapter]*
- Ms McD: Revising a conference paper into an article MS**
- My Museology: redraft three dissertation chapters**
- Scatterwriter [Complete expansion/revision of an article MS]*
- Zcat abroad [write two articles]*