Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writing Group Week 7: Hitting the Reset Button

Welcome to week 7! Yes, I know it's technically ADM's week, but I realized that I was going to be out of town next weekend, so we did a swap: I've got this week, and ADM will take the next two, and then we'll be back on schedule.

Got it? Okay, good. So let's go:

Oddly enough, the topic for this week is exactly what it was last session at week 7: Goal resetting.

I was inspired by many of the comments from week six, in which many people realized that they'd been overly ambitious in setting their goals. Sometimes we need to push through to those hard goals if we've got a deadline, but sometimes it's worth re-evaluating what's possible to do, keeping in mind your other obligations.

So this is your chance to hit the reset button, if you want to, and reevaluate your goal for the 12-week session. Sit down, take stock, and let me know in the comments if you want a new goal for the session. Or, if not, maybe you want to use the comments to contemplate how you're going to approach the second half of the project to bring you closer to achieving your original goals. Is there something that's been holding you back that you can take care of so you move forward more smoothly?

And, of course, you should give your report, and your goal for next week.

For me? Well, I still need to finish that outline (and I'll check in to report that sometime on Friday). But then I need to devote the rest of the weekend to getting four other things (grading, a committee assignment, a newsletter, and an application for a course release) off my desk and out of my brainspace that I need clear to really move forward on the project. That's it. I get those done by Monday, and I can move forward.

Here we go!

  • Amcalm25/AMChristensen [finish an article]: 20 minutes/day for at least 3 days of writing, esp. on stitching stuff together
  • Amstr [revise and resubmit an article]: 1) type in changes to MS, 2) skim the research on two narrow topics, 3) write a brief lit review, 4) fiddle more with the intro, 5) attempt to incorporate secondary research into the article
  • Another Damned Medievalist [write/revise a close-to-final draft of an article]: No project goals this week; focus on catching up on everything else so next week can be back to the project
  • Antikate [revise a conference paper into an article & submit]: 30 minutes of writing every day
  • Belledamesansmerci/Elizabeth [transform a conference paper into a journal article]: (no goal set for the week)
  • Bitterandjaded/Bittergrrl [finishing a dissertation chapter]: Revise writing on this chapter into 20 pages for presentation on the 25th.
  • Britomart [completing a draft of dissertation introduction]: Get 10 more pages of introduction to in-person writing group by Monday
  • Cly(temnestra) [write a book chapter]: have a completed draft
  • Contingent Cassandra [complete a full draft of a journal article]: Write on at least two weekday mornings
  • Dame Eleanor Hull [complete a chapter of the article-turned-book]: Re-evaluate the various works in project to see which is going to be the most feasible to complete quickly
  • Dr. Crazy [Finish a chapter draft begun this summer]: write 2 pages and compose an abstract for a project-related conference
  • Erika [write a complete & final draft of an article already underway]: 350 words / day, and spend 30-60 minutes outlining, editing, or researching the article.
  • Forthright [write two article-length pieces]: 1500 new words of writing to get article #2 in skeleton form
  • Frogprincess [Final draft of the dissertation]: excused absence for high school reunion
  • Good Enough Woman [write a solid draft of a dissertation chapter]: 1) freewrite 10 minutes M-F; 2) Read 50 pages of primary text; 3) Read 2 chapters of Descartes; 4) Skim a 90-page article to see if it contains anything of value.
  • Gillian [3 chapters of my dissertation]: finish work on the first half of that chapter and get a cleanish draft done
  • Heu Mihi [write paper for a faculty colloquium]: Convert part 3's notes into paragraphs; deal with German article. OR: Work for 3 hours on the talk.
  • Highlyeccentric/nakedphilologist [Draft one thesis chapter]: Write every day (except Wednesdays) and attempt to finish off section 2
  • Janice/jliedl [write a first draft of a chapter]: complete research reading in a few free hours on Monday and Tuesday
  • Jennifer [finish writing a neglected article]: write 500 words each morning
  • Katrin/StitchInTime [No goal for the project]: finish work on the first half of that chapter and get a cleanish draft done
  • Luolin [finish and submit an article]: Read 2 1/2 articles. Take notes.
  • Matilda [revise a paper into a journal article]: continue to review related literature; write1000 words of introduction; work on strengthening structure of the piece overall
  • Monks and Bones [turn a seminar paper into an article]: 1) Reread seminar paper; 2) Keep working on the data to the extent necessary; 3) Write up a page of musings on what the article is going to look like on at least three occasions throughout the week.
  • Notorious Ph.D. [write a conference paper]: Make an outline
  • NWGirl [Revise one dissertation chapter into a book chapter]: research in archives
  • Opsimathphd [turning a dissertation chapter into an article]: 500 words per day mode, with the help of some additional reading
  • Salimata [write a conference paper]: 300 words/day for 5 days
  • Scatterwriter [revise three chapters of book]: 1) finish skimming the book from last week; 2) go through introduction and cut out anything superfluous; 3) think about how best to restructure the introduction
  • Scholasticamama [Transform a conference paper into an article]: Complete the planned 500 words
  • Sisyphus [polish the rough draft of my article and send it out]: read and incorporate the ILLs.
  • Sophylou: [finish revisions on an article and prepare it for submission]: write the 500-word abstract
  • Stemi [Complete and send off a review article ]: add Q*12 new words to the outline/draft document
  • Susan [write a 7000 word commissioned essay]: incorporate ILL reading; maybe a full draft by next weekend?
  • Undine/Not of General Interest [Finish nearly done chapter and complete another]: 1500 words on big project
  • Zcat abroad/Kiwimedievalist [write an article]: do some free-writing in an attempt to refocus
Week 6 Absences (some of these are planned-and-announced absences, but keeping track of two types of absences is getting complicated and might result in undeserved drops. So if your name appears here even though you announced your upcoming absence, rest assured that the only reason you will be dropped is if you miss two in a row):
  • Adelaide [write a conference paper]: (absent to visit parents)
  • Digger [write two book chapters]: (absent for family visit)
  • Dr. Virago [draft a 7500-word essay for a contracted publication]: (absent while lacking internet access; pre-reported a goal for week seven of 750 new words)
  • Kris [write up a “full” paper and cut down to a 15-minute conference presenation]
  • Lucie: [Complete a full draft of the PhD thesis]
  • Marie [finish turning paper into journal article]
  • Merryweather [write conference paper]
  • Mike [write ch. 2 of dissertation]
  • Trapped in Canadia [draft two chapters of the dissertation]: (absent for conferece travel)
  • Viola [writing an introduction and a chapter for thesis]


Adelaide said...

Here early to make up for last week. News from last week - I did get a DETAILED outline finished before leaving town. News from this week - further progress has been made on the outline (strange process going on here I know - it's strange for me too but it seems to be working finally so I'm not arguing with what's working)

Goal for next week - turn the detailed outline into as close to a finished paper as I can get. Next week is my most "free" week before it's due, so I've got to get as huge a chunk as I can done because the week after will be horrid.

Matilda said...

Hello, all,

This week I feel better than last week because I have written something at least. Only about 500 words, but writing something tangible helps me to think more clearly about the topic. I need to continue literature reviewing, but also continue to write something however short or vague.

Ok, I really need to reset my goal, since I have always felt I have been behind my goal every week this session. My new goal is: the first draft of a journal article. 'Write first, revise later.' is now my motto.

@Britomart, thank you very much for your encouraging comment last week! What I like this WG is that you can get helpful suggestions and comments, and you then know you are not alone!

@Notorious, thank you very much again for your concrete suggestion. I should not say 'fail', but concentrate on checking what has been worked and what has not.

Katie said...

Way to go, Matilda and Adelaide! Last week was like a game of Calvinball for me. I realized that I could finish 10 pages for my writing group, but they would be a bunch of disjointed paragraphs. So I changed the rules, and decided it would be more useful to write a detailed outline of my chapter as I've envisioned it so far, and discuss it with them. As always, they pushed me to talk about the conceptual, big-picture stuff that always scares me (the inner critic wonders, "what if this dissertation isn't really arguing anything?"), but overall the exercise was really productive.

Goals for next week: write for at least 30 minutes per day, starting to flesh out some of the untouched parts of the outline.

One suggestion my in-person group gave me is to set aside separate time for writing and reading. This is probably obvious to everyone except me, but it was definitely a revelation to me. I tend to do research for several hours and then feel very satisfied at having worked on my project. The trouble is, I haven't actually written anything, and I could basically research forever.

Good luck to y'all this week!

Adelaide said...

@Britomart - that's my big problem in many cases too - I'm quite more interested in doing the research than in writing up the final thing, and it means I can get greatly sidetracked by it, so I think that's a good point. My long-term goal is to actually plan out specific time for these kinds of things - unfortunately as a librarian, my other duties sometimes make it hard to plan time, because I never know when I'll have a student dropping by for help, or a semi-last minute instruction session scheduled...

Matilda said...

Well, I've forgot to say my goal for next week.

Goal for next week: writing every day at least 15 minutes; finishing the introductory part of the draft.

Yes, the suggestion you got is very helpful. I am the kind of person who searches materials, collects articles and books, takes notes, then is satisfied with the work...But I need to write, and writing is thinking.

Adelaide said...

clarification to my last post - I'm not pretending the rest of the world doesn't get lots of interruptions too, but its a bit more acceptable for teaching faculty to be hiding out with the office door closed to get some work done, than it is for a librarian who is expected to answer her share of reference questions (with a non-existent reference desk) that's all I meant =D

Forthright said...

Checking in early because I'll be away for most of the weekend.

This week I've had my share of being OBE (dang basement flooding), and I know that this weekend is basically a writeoff. But overall, not too bad, in terms of the goals I had set of writing 1500 words on article 2. It turns out, after organizing all my various written fragments for the two papers, that article #2, which I thought was the laggard, is actually at 5500 words whereas article #1 is only at 4000. Both are coming together nicely (they'll end up at 7000 or so each, ideally) but article #1 has some structural issues that have only become apparent this week, and which aren't easily resolved. Basically I need to figure out whether to structure it in a way that presents my data most clearly, or in the way that the argument packs the most punch, theoretically.

So for this coming week my goal is to get onto article #1, sort out that issue one way or the other, write the introduction for that article, and to fill in the linking bits between the already-written sections. That, plus finishing some leftover reading that's been sitting in my to-do pile for a while.

I think I'm good on the overall 12-week goal, no resetting required: actually seeing these two papers as single documents this week, both with titles and actual content, has given me hope going forward for the second half of the term.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell said...

@Adekaide, I'm a librarian, too; sometimes I feel the universe doesn't understand that librarians do more than twiddle their thumbs or stamp books. Okay, rant over.

@Notorious: sorry for the lack of goals for this past week. I think I need to revise my goal to a rough first draft of an article from the aforementioned conference paper. I had three family crises in four days that involved travelling over 2000 miles among them all, and I don't see life getting any easier in the remaining time.

Progress since last check-in: zip, not even thinking about the project.

Goal for next week: The paper considers five passages. Finish a rough first draft of the first passage.

I hope all is well with everyone. Although I haven't said it, I very much appreciate the group, and am still hoping to have more to offer all of you.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ok, so I've gotten the abstract written, and I plan to get the two pages written tomorrow or Sunday. (I can't get to them today because I have grading that I *cannot* put off.) I'm actually feeling pretty good about my progress, and I feel like even if I don't get to the goal of having the entire chapter complete by the end of the writing group this semester that I will be in good shape to have it done before the spring writing group begins. So I'm not going to reset my goal - I think that it's still within reach, well, at least within a few weeks of the end of the writing group :)

So, for next week, I'm just going to commit to one page (so one page in addition to the two this weekend), although I'd like to do more than that. In addition, though, I'm going to commit to scheduling (and actually doing) 4 hours of work on the chapter between now and next Friday. That work can be anything - actual writing, thinking, reading, etc. - but I think that spending four dedicated hours would be a Really Good Thing.

Janice said...

I survived a wild week and I'm staring gloomily at a stack of marking that's almost taller than the pile of laundry waiting to be folded. (Okay, the grading stack isn't that awe-inspiring as it's piled on top of an end table.)

Ahead is my reading week: my holy grail of not losing 15 hours to the classroom, 3 hours to office hours (which can sometimes be productive but often aren't) and 6 hours to various sundry preps or meetings.

I have my research all organized thanks to the last little bits of time I had free this past week and my goal for this week is to get 3000 words of shitty draft.

If I do that, I'm within spitting distance of a complete paper since there's 1500 already done and the final version should clock in between 500 and 7000 words.

Forthright? You have my sympathies. No flooding but our furnace is in a death spiral so hours were consumed and continue to be committed to get a replacement organized. (Scheduled an energy audit for next week: oh boy!)

Elizabeth? So sorry about the crises but you're right that when these matters crop up, you have to deal with them promptly. A well-organized writing project can be put aside for emergencies and not cause the same cascading failures that come with a project that's all "seat of your pants" so here's where your earlier organization pays off!

Anonymous said...

I did not meet my goal, because I did not work on my project at all. I did finish the manuscript review, one day late.

I don't think I need to reset my goal, just my work habits.

For this week, my goal is to read those articles, but to set myself a time limit: 2 hours, and then move on to revising my outline next week.

Anonymous said...

I did not meet my goal, because I did not work on my project at all. I did finish the manuscript review, one day late.

I don't think I need to reset my goal, just my work habits.

For this week, my goal is to read those articles, but to set myself a time limit: 2 hours, and then move on to revising my outline next week.

Amstr said...

From last week: [revise and resubmit an article]: 1) type in changes to MS, 2) skim the research on two narrow topics, 3) write a brief lit review, 4) fiddle more with the intro, 5) attempt to incorporate secondary research into the article

I did accomplish #1 and #4, but between my spouse out of town for work, fear of the lit review, and a few other items that came up, I stalled out on the other three tasks.

I did, however, procrastinate productively. I read a colleague's dissertation chapter draft (good for karma, reminding me about argument, exposing me to more research in my field, and showing me what an actual dissertation chapter looks like--I think I've only read one or two before) and reviewed the comments from my editors to make sure I haven't missed anything. I also made a paragraph by paragraph list of everything I have left to get the paper in shape for the deadline that's IN 10 DAYS!!! and THAT I'M TOTALLY GOING TO MISS!!

So my Calvinball rules this week were that work stopped yesterday at 2pm and doesn't start again until Sunday evening, and I'm going to ask for a week's extension on my deadline.

I think my overall goal is still manageable (and necessary), so I don't need to reset the 12-weeks, but I did need to reset this week.

For next week: 1) write to editors to ask for a week's extension, 2) complete work on half of my paragraph "need-to-do"s, 3) break the lit review tasks down into things that can be accomplished in 15 minutes or so and do half the list, 4) spend an hour working on the intro.

Gillian said...

You read my mind! I'm not going to entirely reset, but my 12 week plan is a bit derailed because the chapters have decided they dont' work the way they were. I have one of the three ready, and the second one will be ready today, so I can still finish three chapters in the 12 weeks. What I'm hoping to do now, though, is finish the new third chapter this week and get the whole lot emailed in the next fortnight. Then I shall spend the last section of the 12 weeks working on the extra chapter. The four chapters come to the same wordlength as the three would, you see - they just make a lot more developmental sense now.

This means that my aim for this week is in two parts. The first is to finish my second chapter (today) and the third is to sort out the half-drafted chapter and to add any research to it. That leaves polishing for the week after, and polishing is after crucial in this case, because it will set the new chapter up so that it makes sense in terms of the earlier ones.

My lesson of the week is never lose old research, just because it didn't amount to anything. I was saved 3 days work this week because I did the research ten years ago for something quite different. Instead of having to research from scratch, all I had to do was turn my extensive notes into a few hundred words. This is, of course, the reason I changed the chapters - I was suddenly signficantly further advanced in my thinking.

NWGirl said...

Goal for last week: working in the archives

Accomplished! Finally, a weekly goal accomplished. The archivist had new materials for me to look at: a recent donation from the same family. Calvinball indeed! This group of material fills in some significant gaps and has me re-thinking revisions of the current project and dreaming of new projects. So I'm very excited. I think this was exactly what I needed to re-energize and finish this book manuscript.

Next week will be ugly-busy so I need to keep my goals realistic. So for the week: update inventory spreadsheet and match to digital images. If I can, I want to start outlining next steps with this material, esp. how it fits in with other material about this family.

@Elizabeth, sorry to hear about the family crises. Safe travels.

@Notorious, thank you for the suggestion of taking a day off. I will do that this weekend. And your comment served as a friendly reminder that even though the archives were calling, I needed to take meaningful breaks (and not just to run to the bathroom).

@Britomart -- that's great advice. I have a hard time stopping the reading and beginning the writing. The reading becomes my procrastination because it means I'm working (or so I like to think).

I'm looking forward to eating real food again. I'm don't eat out much. After this week, I remember why.

Jodi A. Campbell said...

I am resetting my goal. I have no hope of finishing all three chapters that I planned on writing this semester. I will settle for two chapters, both of which are still in the works.

I need new work habits. I need to not get distracted by any and every little thing. Why is there always other work to be done?

undine said...

I wrote 1500 words, though a lot of them are conceptual background that won't be used officially. Next week: 1000 usable words now that I've found a better direction.

Viola said...

Sorry about last week, I was in bed for about four days with tracheitis and a nasty virus. I had never been so sick to actually have to stay in bed all day before, so that was an experience. Regardless, I have finished the chapter, handed that in and I'm ready to start working on the intro or lit review. I think I am going to go with the lit review and as it is my first, my goal is to read up on how they work and what I should be doing

Digger said...

The last two weeks went OBE with a family visit and now I'm fighting off the mid-semester plague. I'm still going dancing in the woods after I give this paper this morning, dammit, but I don't have any progress to report.

I am going to stay optimistic, though, and keep my goal of 2 chapters (no more scheduled OBE!). Next week: half a zero draft of Why Wheels (seriously, this is my nemesis chapter, and I'm trying to stop thinking about it that way because it makes me want to AVOID. Once this one is done, the rest should be straightforward).

Cly said...

I can’t tell whether or not I’m impressed with my progress this week. My case of OBF (Overcome by Flu) turned out to be some sort of nasty bronchial infection, and I spent lots of time in bed. However, somewhere between coughing and struggling to breath, I got some writing done. I still don’t have a complete draft, but I have a working draft (with lots of notes saying what goes where). It seems to fit with the overall shape of the book (again, this is pre-healthy reading). I’ve also almost finished about half of my impossible-and-not-my-period workshop paper. The workshop is next week, so finishing and polishing the workshop paper will have to be my focus (and goal) for this week.

Like luolin88, I don't think I have to re-set my goal, but my work habits need some improvement. Specifically, I *have* to learn how to focus.

@Britomart - Setting aside separate time for reading and writing is something that sounds as if it should be obvious, but i don't think it ever is. I haven't quite learned to balance this one.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Goal for this week: evaluate projects and see if anything could be submitted before the end of the calendar year. Result: nothing is really in push-it-out-the-door shape, or maybe I'm not in shape to do the pushing. There is an article that I planned to finish in the spring, which is (I think) pretty close to being done; but I feel it needs a kind of concentrated attention that I just don't have right now. In spring, with one prep and two courses, and less work on my major committee (spring is traditionally its light season, anyway), I'll be in a much better situation in regard to that article.

So, back to my usual principle: Stick To Plan A. IOW, get a working draft of the planned chapter. It's at 2000 words now.

Goal for the coming week: work at least 1/2 hour a day; add at least 500 words to the chapter; take notes on an ILL book related to he chapter.

Later today there will be a more detailed report chez moi, if anyone cares.

Sisyphus said...

Total goal: polish the rough draft of my article and send it out.

Last week's goal: read and incorporate the ILLs.

I finished this last week, but all this week was taken up with student conferences, which I find very exhausting and need to be followed up with drinking beer in the evenings.

The nice thing about this group, though, is that ordinarily I would just "think about the article later" and then not do that for months as I got buried in grading and things. But I had to go back to the article this morning in order to make up a goal for this week. *grumble grumble stupid group making me be all responsible and shit*

And you know what? it's still a totally doable goal. IF I keep plugging away at it regularly.

So *this* week's goal is to revise page 15-18, which I see are covered with red pen from my last editing session. And do a shitload of job apps. And grading. And get more essays Monday. Argh!

Stemi said...

Project goal: Complete and send off a review article

Weekly goal: add Q*12 new words to the outline/draft document

What I did: Picked up ILL book for this project and read 20 pages. Wrote over 1800 words on another writing project.

So if in Calvinball terminology Q*12 means “work on other project” then the goal was met (?).

Situation assessment: Other project is a collaboration, and is a research paper (rather than a review). All the data are there, many analyses are done, there is excitement about the results and I have the external motivation and feedback of working with Collaborator. It has reached the point where the writing is straightforward and satisfying (point, point, point, conclusion, pow!). In contrast, the review project is hard. I’m having to stretch out of my comfort zone, I’m more tentative in my mastery of the material, and ultimately I’m less sure there is an audience who will care.

Goal recalibration: If my primary goal is to get writing done and get smiley-faced stickers from this writing group, then there is a big temptation to totally switch up my project goal, and assert a new project goal of “reader-ready first draft of collaboration manuscript.” I’m pretty sure I can meet that goal.

On the other hand, the reason I entered this writing group was to have a framework that will nudge me toward writing this review (and in the process improve my mastery of research areas that are somewhat distant, but relevant to my main research area). Since the start of the group, the deadline for the review has been pushed back. Furthermore, I have thought considerably about audience, and have decided that it would make more sense to propose it to a different journal (that normally commissions reviews, but will consider proposals).

Considering these issues I propose a new goal: First (very rough) draft of review article.

Next week goal (I’m aiming for achievable here): 1) read at least 50 pages in ILL book. 2) 100 new words in outline/draft document

Michael J. Altman said...

Side projects are eating my dissertation. Conference papers (I'm at a conference right now), applications, and teaching a brand new use purse are making this whole thing more difficult than I thought. I have gotten some progress on making extensive notes based on my sources but it hasn't been what I've wanted.

All of the said, other than the teaching, most of the side projects are done. So, hopefully this week some real work can be done.

Goal for the week: two pages of a draft. Just something I can point to and say "Ha! I got win!"

Salimata Doumbia said...

Last week's goal: 300 words/day (changed up from a time-goal of X min/day. I found that this worked a lot better for me, maybe just because I am actually at a time that I both really need to be *writing* as well as finally feel ready to do so. So, I now have 1632 words of SFD.

For next week, I will do another 300 words/day, which should put me in the 3,000 word ball-park; the week after next will be revising and getting back to around 2,500, which seems to be my personal bench mark for a 15-minute presentation.

And yes, I am also recalibrating my larger goals--if not the one for this group: I had originally thought (or rather: vainly hoped) to work on two writing projects simultaneously--on top of my actual semi-academic job that basically consists of writing 80% of the time--which again is on top of job apps that are basically a lot of writing too. (Not complaining here, I know that many of us are in the same boat) Anyway, I finally realized I can't do it all, so I'm just sticking with the one writing project--the conference paper for this group. And that should still be feasible to pull off between now and when I actually need to give the paper.

@Notorious: thanks for organizing this group. Like others have said, without it I would likely not have done anything this week--but instead I wrote 1632 words because I didn't want to not make my goal again!

@Gillian: how wonderful you were able to use some of your "old" research for your current project. Congratulations, and I'll take your tip to heart!

Dr. Virago said...

Hm, I think I may have gotten a pre-Amsterdam contact high when I said I would meet a 750-word goal this week. Realistically, the best I could have done was 500 words, since I was still in Amsterdam on Monday, one of my writing days. D'oh!

Meanwhile, I was completely OBE upon my return (for one thing -- holy crap! -- Bullock and I just made an offer on a new house! yikes!). So, in short, I wrote NO words. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Sigh. So yeah, I need to hit reset in a big way. I'm still going to try for 750 words each week from here on out, but given the missed weeks, I'm not going to have a complete draft by the end of the 12 weeks. But I probably wasn't going to anyway, since my word count is way over the content count (so to speak). That is, I've written nearly half the words, but only about 1/4 of the content.

Goal for next week: 750 words *plus* contact one of the volume editors and let her know that I'll need the extension through January that we once talked about!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Adelaide: Good job! And I fully understand: a good outline is always an evolving document
@ Matilda: Yes, that tangible writing, even if it is a bit unformed, really does help. Plus, having even 500 words for a week helps you to build confidence going into the next week.
@ Britomart: Looks like the rule change worked out for you – and now you've got a handle on the big concepts. Way to go! Of course, sometimes it's also productive to "write your way in" to those big concepts. But do what works in any given week. And setting aside separate time can be good, but once again, these are best if treated as guidelines, rather than as a prison. If the writing comes to you during your "reading time" (or vice-versa), then you should go with that.
@ Forthright: Yep: sometimes it's time to step back and take stock, so you can move forward with a plan – again, leaving yourself room for the plan to evolve.
@ Elizabeth/Belledame: Count me as one person who is eternally grateful for all that librarians do for me. And I'm sorry to hear about the family crises.
@ Dr. Crazy: Oh, how I am with you. This weekend is all about clearing the decks so I can make progress next week.
@ Janice: Whoo! That's got to be good to be able to see the end from where you're standing.
@ Luolin: Good plan. Any work habits in particular (other than: Hey! Get some work done!) that you want to reset? Maybe just pick one thing to focus on for this week.
@ Amstr: Asking for a week's extension seems totally reasonable (though admittedly I don't know the particulars). And I love your idea of breaking the intimidating list down into mentally manageable chunks.
@ Gillian: wise words about never ditching old writing – or at least, not for a long, long time. You never know what's going to come in handy. Just yesterday I cannibalized portions of something I wrote 8 months ago for something I had due right away. I was glad to have it.
@ NW Girl: Hooray for getting reinvigorated and excited! Archives can do that (if you find stuff, that is). Run with that feeling!
@ Trapped: I hear ya'. Just two weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch with my morning coffee, thinking: I could get so much work done today if only I didn't have to go to work. Now: what's your goal for the upcoming week?

more to follow…

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Comments, pt. 2:

@Undine: Sometimes it's productive to figure out what path you can't (or don't want to) follow. So, good deal.

@Viola: Lit reviews are tricky to explain, and there's no single way to write them. Best bet: have one of your professors point you to two or three (not just one) that they think are good models.

@Digger: You and Viola both! Plague has been running through the camp here in Grit City as well, and it seems to be a nasty one. As for getting into that nemesis chapter, maybe giving yourself permission to make a hash of it at first would help you get going? That might take the pressure off.

@ Cly: Jeez, really? You were productive while sick? Wow. As for "learn to focus," try the Pomodoro Method trick. Start with the timer set for 12 minutes. DO NOT LOOK AT THE TIMER; trust that it will go off, and at that point you can play for 3-4 minutes. Then do another 12 minutes, repeating the cycle 3-4 times. Gradually work up to 15, then 18, etc. It seems like 12 or 15 minutes is too short to bother with, but you'll be amazed at how much you accomplish in such a short time. I know I was.

@Dame Eleanor: Glad you took the time to reevaluate, and know your schedule well enough to know what's a reasonable expectation when. Keeping ourselves from overcommitting is always a challenge.

@Sisyphus: Glad to be here to irritate and annoy you. ;-) In all seriousness, that's kind of precisely what the group is about: most of us are here because we NEED that external accountability.

@Stemi: If working on this other project for a week helps you clear the decks so you can really focus on this one without something else hanging over your head, then it totally counts. Do you see this as productive in that direction?

@Mike: See my comment above to Stemi, and evaluate (for yourself) whether your work this week falls more into the category of "putting it off" or "clearing the decks." And good luck getting that win this week!

@ Salimata: ADM and I are glad to be here to help – and thanks to you (and to others) for chiming in on other people's posts! And if nothing else, your mental recalibration is something you can keep in mind: you now know what's possible for you under a specific set of circumstances, so you know what to ask of yourself going forward.

@ Dr. Virago: Wait – didn't you & Bullock already buy a house? Aside from that: reset button time. This is a new week. Think of that going forward. My last weekend was shot all to hell. This one will not be… right after I have lunch.

Contingent Cassandra said...

(very) long -- sorry -- version continued:

This (Saturday) morning was devoted to a bit more grading, plus taking a look at my calendar, reflecting on where things stand with the project, and writing this (posted later after I took another look at it). I also got to the farmer’s market and cooked several healthy dishes, to be frozen in single portions – like the exercise, a positive step in the direction of overall wellbeing if not precisely progress on the article.

So, I think the revised goal makes sense: keep trying to make progress; keep observing what works and what doesn’t. I do intend to keep writing, on more or less the same schedule, past the official end of the group (and the end of the semester may actually be less crazy than the beginning for me, since I’ve been struggling with two new mostly-new preps, and the focus shifts more from prep to feedback, and from a lot of short assignments to longer ones – which not all of the students finish in time to get detailed feedback – as the semester goes on). It also looks like I’ll have more Saturday mornings free in late Nov./Dec. than in October (though that may be an illusion). And it makes sense for me to keep working on the article as I’m also preparing for the related class. On the other hand, I’ve got another important ongoing project on which I need to work a bit over winter break (a proposal for a scholarly edition and, assuming comments come back around then, which I suspect they will, revisions on an article currently under review). That project will need to take precedence as I head toward completing a conference paper by late March (assuming acceptance of the proposal I sent), and, I hope, another article manuscript by the end of summer ’12. So at some point I do need to set a deadline for a rough draft of this article (probably before Christmas), then back-burner it for a while, and set aside some time for revision in early ’12. But, for the moment, I think the goal of “make progress and see what I can learn in the process of what helps me make progress” may have to do.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Hmm. . .part 1 seems to have gotten lost. So here's what the post above was supposed to be continuing:

Short version: didn’t make specific goals for this week, but did stay in touch with the project in various ways, and take a bit of a (badly-needed) break.

Long-term goal probably needs to be revised to something like “make sustained progress on a draft of an article” (with subsidiary goals of figuring out just how much I can do during the semester, and what timing and other approaches work best, but that doesn’t need to be spelled out in the list of participants). Goal for this week: to write on Tues. and Thurs. mornings (Fri. probably won’t be available, so it has to be Tu and Th).

Long version: there’s both good and bad news for this week. The very good news is that the brown bag-style thingy (me leading a discussion of a set of readings that overlapped for the most part with the sources for the article) went extremely well: I was energized (not always the case for me, an introvert, with group things); the participants (some of whom had traveled a long way, so I felt responsible for making it worth their while) were energized; all went away tired but happy. It also looks like I’ll be presenting the article as a conference paper in Fall 2012. So – good developments on that front.

I also spent some time putting together publicity for a Spring 2012 class that will be closely related to the article, and for which I need to recruit participants (because of a funny schedule allowing for field/archival work, I need to reach as wide a pool of prospective students as possible to find those who will be willing to fulfill a writing-in-the-disciplines requirement in a somewhat unusual way; registration starts in early November). Because I’m a literature specialist teaching in a comp program, and this approach to the required course I teach represents a rare chance for me to teach more or less in my field (without turning the writing class into a literature seminar – a temptation to which some of my colleagues yield, but which I try to resist, because that’s not really what the course is supposed to be), it’s important to make it work. So, the time I’ve spent on publicity this week (and will need to spend in the next week or two) is well spent.

However, some of the time spent on publicity was late-evening hours that steal from the early-morning hours I’ve scheduled for writing. And I was also OBE (again) in the form of car trouble (one early morning was devoted to getting the thing to the repair shop and walking home; the need to take public transportation on several days was also a time suck, and a source of further exhaustion, as was a late-night walk home from an earlier foray to the repair shop -- yes, it’s been in twice this week, but the problem does seem to be fixed, and the walks count as exercise, which I also wanted to ramp up this week).

After all that, I decided that what I really needed was a bit of a break, so I didn’t try to write on Friday morning, and I didn’t try to attend even part of a national conference taking place an hour or so away this weekend (but will try to make up for some of what I planned to do there by reading through the program and browsing some publisher’s web sites; as I get back into writing, I’m really feeling the need to browse through the exhibit hall at a conference with a full-fledged publishers’ display, and this would have been the best chance to do that without major travel for several years. But I just wasn’t in the frame of mind/at the energy level where it would have been worth the registration fee, and the time). I’m also behind on grading, and my students are getting understandably antsy about feedback, so part of the last few days has been devoted to that.

Susan said...

I just keep plugging on. I've added about 200 net new words. I did a lot of editing - I actually cut 50-100 words as I edited. At this point I have an almost complete draft.

My goals for next week are modest. Next week is crazy, as I have to be out of town on Wednesday and Thursday, and then I have other obligations on Friday and Saturday, which are my usual writing days.

So my goal is to spend an hour or so with each of two classic works so that I can add a couple of good sentences on each. I might figure out what to do with a dangling paragraph, too, but that might be more than I can manage.

Then I will send the draft off to a bunch of friends who have offered to read it, while I go to work on footnotes... It's good to be ahead of schedule, because November is my killer month!

Contingent Cassandra said...

Oh, also -- internet access for next weekend is uncertain, so my checkin is likely to take place on Sunday or not at all.

sophylou said...

Wrote up the 500-word abstract. That was my last step! Tomorrow I'll do the actual submitting (exciting things like printing and emailing and putting the print copies into the mail).

That means my project goal has been met, so, hooray! The extra push has been helpful.

No goal for next week, as I have an important non-writing thing coming up quickly that needs as much attention as I can give it. Nice to have some closure on this project.

Jodi A. Campbell said...

Oh, right, my goal for the week! Um, this week I am going to write 500 words. That's not much, but I have two essay writing seminars to teach and I should probably plan them first!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Comments coming up, but first: The outline is done. And even better: I think that, in the process of writing the outline, I found the hook for my paper. I know that this may change after the first and second drafts, but at least now I have a good direction to head off in, and that's a huge relief. I'm traveling for parts of next week, and have massive student conferences for the other part, so my goal will be to write 300 rough-draft words on the background section of the paper. That's only a little over a page. And if I do more, then great.

Now, on to the comments:

@ Cassandra: This week's goals look reasonable, but considering what you say in your comment, maybe one of your goals this week (or maybe a replacement goal, for this week entirely) should be to get the other little projects out of the way so you can move forward without feeling like you're juggling flaming torches and kittens at the same time.
As for the long-term goal, the offer stands to reset it (and I've made a note that you want to), but you should think of some sort of a finish line. Whether that's in terms of words, pages, or sections is your call, as is the amount. But we should set a goal that you can measure your progress against. Otherwise, it's too easy to just spin your wheels.

@ Susan: way to go! And I know what you mean about November (though for many of us it's December). That's why ADM & I scheduled things the way we did – so we'd finish up by Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed!

@ Sophylou: Hooray!!! Gold star! Check in tomorrow if you get a chance, so we can all celebrate the submission together.

@ Trapped: Thanks. Consider it noted.

Monks and bones said...

I did reasonably well with my goal this past week, in that I now have a lot of data, some interesting observations, some written musings, and the gloomy conviction that my seminar paper of departure is a lot less original than I thought it was. I'm tempted to revise my goal downward this week to just the conference paper that I need to get out of this, but that's a bad plan because it only gets me to the end of the week after next (when, come hell or high water and barring unexpected train and illegal airline strikes or other disasters, I present it), and also because pre-conference paper is probably a bad time to shoot down the possibility of an article version.

The goal (and challenge) for me this week is conference paper draft, around 3000 words. I have yet to complete a full draft of anything in grad school (as opposed to multiple half-drafts generally abandoned partway through when I can no longer continue under the weight of how much I have come to think they suck), so we'll see how it goes. Somehow I have to figure out how to make all this interesting data for my off-the-beaten-path research region relevant to other historians of the period. So, paper draft. Just a small goal, really.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick update since I'm headed to the last sessions of my conference in a bit.

Met with my advisor - good conversation.

Got the writing I had done thus far down to a 15 page draft - which is good because I have a tendency to read a bit slow and I have a powerpoint with some images that I will be speaking to off script. I'll continue to revise that 15 pages until I give my presentation next Tuesday evening, but I'm not going to count that toward my goal for this week.

Since, theoretically, I will be getting feedback on the direction of the chapter from a larger audience this week, my goal for the week is to create a plan for incorporating the useful comments into my chapter.

I will also need to find a way to incorporate some of the other edits that I've made back into my master file in Scrivener. And by "find a way" I mean import the text back in and overwrite what's in there currently. If you have a good way to do this, let me know, because this is really my biggest complaint about Scrivener.

Dr. Virago said...

OT reply to Notorious re: the new house -- we currently own our home, which Bullock bought in 2003. (Actually, technically *Bullock* owns it.) But we're selling it and moving to a new one for a combination of reasons. I'll probably blog about it once the ink is dry on the counter-offer we accepted (right now it's still verbal).

And yeah, I totally need to hit reset. I think tomorrow's writing session will also include thinking about what my goals are for the rest of the writing group's duration.

Marie said...

Sorry I didn't check in last week. It was One of Those Weeks. I think hitting the reset button is just the right suggestion for me this week, so that's my goal: to reset my goal.

Lucie said...

(Next week's goal: Write 5000 words on last chapter. Continue no-internet morning writing.)

I did try to leave a comment last week but when I checked on Monday to look at the rest of the comments, it wasn't there, so something obviously went wrong.

I set myself a goal last week to write a section and outline the next. I also really took on the idea of calvinball and found it great for making myself change how I was working instead of stewing when I wasn't making much progress. In that vein, I didn't write the section I had identified, but I did write another, and I planned the one I was originally going to write. I'm happy with this. I'm going to keep this "calvinball" attitude to my work for the coming week. I also had a very hard day last week when some news I got really upset me, so I'm glad I still got stuff done every day.

I have to stick with my original overall goal but I need to pick up the pace now. Last week I found it good to change from a consistency goal to a task goal, so this week I'm going to go for an ambitious writing goal of 5000 words on my last chapter. However, my mornings have been my best writing time during this group, especially turning off the internet first thing, so I'm going to keep this habit too.

Lucie said...

@ Britomart: Reading and reading and reading (and not writing) is something I've done a lot of, and it's caused me many problems. As well as it basically being procrastination, I found it would muddle my own original ideas, make me doubt myself, and lose sight of my argument. I'm still trying to detangle one chapter in which this happened in particular. It's a great lesson to learn!

@ Elizabeth Anne Mitchell: Sorry to hear about the family crises. Good luck.

@ Cly, Digger, Viola, and anyone else fighting illness I missed: hope you feel better soon.

@ Sisyphus: I heartily agree with you that this group is great for preventing total avoidance. I've found it easy to lose weeks or months doing that in the past.

@ Virago: I like your distinction between wordcount and content count. I realise that I often fill up the draft with empty words so that I have the comfort of having reached the correct number of words, but then have to keep writing much more to cover all the content, and finally remove many words at the end.

heu mihi said...

I managed to work for about 2.5-3 hours on the talk, all of it last weekend. Result: The PowerPoint is mostly done and a good section of the talk has moved from outline/notes to actual paragraphs.

Working over the weekend was a good thing. I'd love to do/have done the same thing this weekend, but it has vanished into a vortex of inactivity. Alas.

Goal for next Friday: 2-3 hours of work on the talk. I should really be able to hammer this thing out pretty quickly, if I were just to DO IT, so I'm not going to renegotiate my goals. (Besides I have to actually deliver the talk this semester, so it's got to get done no matter what!)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Hi, all!

Okay, we've got about seven more hours for you all to get your final reports in, or to respond to each other (and thanks again to those of you who have been doing that). Here are my comments to the most recent reports:

@ Monks and Bones: Good to keep your eye on the ball. As deadlines approach we often see that we have to push exactly when it's getting really difficult. As for your weekly goal, maybe break it down into daily chunks for this week (you don't have to report them to us; this is for your own benefit). What helps me with this is getting a detailed outline with all the subsections, then assign a hypothetical page length to each. When you see that each section is a page and a half, or two pages, or two paragraphs, or whatever, it's often easier to say, "Hey, I can write two paragraphs today. That's totally doable."

@ Bitter and Jaded: Hey! You got that appointment! And I'm glad to hear it was a productive meeting. As for overwriting the old text, I'm not sure I know precisely what you're after, but probably the least complicated way is to import it in (if it has the same title as a file you already have, then Scrivener will automatically add a "-1" to the file name), then move the old one to the trash, or create a new folder called "older versions" in your "research" area of the binder and move it there.

@ Marie: Sounds good. Time to take stock of where you're at and create a concrete plan for moving forward from your actual position (rather than where you thought you'd be, back six weeks ago) is not a bad idea.

@ Lucie: the types of goals you set (i.e. your distinction between "consistency" versus "production" goals) are going to shift depending on where you are in a given project. The important thing is to have a goal each week, and to do your best to meet it. So: well done.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

And by the way, I'm glad that so many people are finding this little project useful. ADM and I are already talking about our spring semester group. Fair warning: It's a bigger workload than you might imagine running the group, so we've both come to the conclusion that we want to keep it going (since so many people find it useful), but that we're probably going to limit enrollment. We started out with over 50 people this time, and it's been pretty unwieldy. So that's just a heads-up for something that will be coming at us several months from now.

thefrogprincess said...

False alarm! I actually will be checking in this week (later tonight). There was a high school reunion debacle that ended up in the main event being cancelled, and I couldn't justify driving home and not working for a club night.

Check in coming...

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Frogprincess: Is "high school reunion debacle" redundant? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Eeps- here's mine. I've mostly caught up on marking and prep, and professional organization stuff, and reports that I owe my dean. I've actually pulled some books, and have also got some ILL stuff in front of me that I was hoping to get through this weekend, but it hasn't happened.

So, for next week, I want to get through two books I need to look at again, the two ILL books (which might actually have more to do with the other paper), order another two books I know I should look at, plus pull up some citations one of the grandes dames sent me, and organize that information. Plus 500 new/seriously revised words. Alternatively, I will do part of that and get up to 500 words on the book review I owe.

I think I've been panicking a little because this is a methodology paper that expands on and plays with methodologies suggested 20+ years ago. I think I've refined them (the suggestion was more based on counting instances of X happening, and drawing conclusions from that about situation Y -- my methodology takes that, looks to see what that methodology tells us, and then starts picking it apart in the "but here are all the things that might make that assumption less than perfect... NEVERTHELESS..."). But I think that's ok. It's just that there are a lot more people working on related things than I had thought, and the fear of missing them out is daunting.

antikate said...

@Notorious: Thanks for your encouragement last week and your discussion of this topic this week! It's good to remember that this sort of thing happens in the process of writing and getting stuff done.

Did I accomplish my goal this week? No. And being realistic, I think the chances of me finishing this article by the end of this 12 week session are slim to none. I'm doing a lot of reevaluating at the moment - not just what I want to accomplish with this 12 weeks, but what I want to be doing in a larger sense. (I'm in a non-academic job but am on the market again this fall, and the busy-ness of work combined with the stresses of the job market are leading to some general soul searching.)

I'm not ready to make any decisions on the larger questions, but I can certainly make some on this smaller goal. I need to be more realistic about my time commitment and what I can really give to this project, seeing as work won't be slowing down anytime soon. I won't have a finished article at the end of the 12 weeks, but I could have an outline (this is sort of in the Calvinball spirit - I usually don't do outlines, but my usual isn't moving me forward, so I should mix things up!) and several finished sections of the article, based on that outline.

So this week's goal is a detailed outline, plus a realistic goal for how much writing I can actually get done by mid-November.

sophylou said...

Article has been electronically submitted, hard copies printed and placed carefully inside priority mail envelope :) Will stop by post office and mail on my way home... I've got just over an hour left on an 8-hour reference shift. (At the end of which, my answer to everything will be "Nnnngggghh.")

When I opened Twitter this morning, someone had posted a link to an article by my dissertation director, giving me a lovely moment of scholarly self-identification. Happy to be able to report having finished something if I get to see him at AHA!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ ADM: one of the most important lessons we need to learn is this: there will always be another book. You can't possibly read everything. But you've also been doing this long enough to know how to zero in on the most important things.

@ Antikate: I love outlines. Others find them constraining. But think of your outline as Calvinball: just this once, see if it shakes something loose. And can I add a suggestion to your goal? By next week, after finishing the outline, report to ADM a number of sections that you want to finish by the end of the session. That way you've got a definitive finish line.

@ Sophylou: Hooray! Let's all crack the champagne!

@ Scholasticmama: Oh my god. That's awful. Chances are that IT (if not at your uni, then some professional) will be able to get you back large portions of it. You'll need to devote some time to sorting through, but I'm optimistic on your behalf. Annddd.... I'm going to do my long-overdue backup RIGHT NOW.

A.M. Christensen said...

Goal: finish article. Last week's goal: write for at least three days, limited due to midterms.

Okay. (Said with a deep intake of breath). A completely unproductive week. Midterms and illness in the household sucked the life out of me. it wouldn't be so bad if I had a pile of graded midterms sitting before me. I don't, I still have two classes to go. I did pick up one source from the library and did a little thinking about my project, so a baby step of progress.

I'd love to rethink my goals, but I really feel that I need to get this thing finished and sent off. I am applying for a TT position at my current Uni, this year and while my list of conference papers is lengthy, my publications list is not, so I really would feel better about the whole thing if I could say article under review when/if I get the interview. So, I think I need to just push onward.

So, my goal for the upcoming week: write for at least 30 minutes/ 5 days. Spend an hour Monday (or tonight if
I can) reviewing where I was before last week.

Anonymous said...

Last week - I did manage the process goal part, except I did my writing on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I give up predicting! I shall write on four days of the week, and that can be that.

I didn't finish section 2 but I *did* write more than 1000 words, so I'm not too grumpy with myself for that.

This week - onwards with section 2! Plus combing through an old essay and a more recent paper and extracting chunks of argument - into a separate doc - which will then form section three. I'm hoping if I process this as two different *types* of work I might manage both of them? We'll see.

As for the reset button - I'm about to finish teaching for the semester, so I have to work out an effective working strategy for the summer. Last summer I stewed in my own juices and got nowhere: I function much better when I have other things to structure my time. So I've enrolled in some language classes, found a buddy to do some Latin translation with, and am determined not to do that again! But I still need to work out an effective strategy for a week of writing-only work. :s

- Highlyeccentric

Kris said...

I've got a bit to catch up on now. I had a planned absence due to a very busy week and then was knocked down by tonsilitis that has morphed into a chest infection (also partly due to the busy week, I suspect).

My aim for this coming week is to have a drafted out full paper. This will include dot points and some gaps but I will produce something that looks like a paper.

Scatterwriter said...

So late that I need to just make my report before I read anyone else's!

Goal for last week: 1) finish skimming the book from last week; 2) go through introduction and cut out anything superfluous; 3) think about how best to restructure the introduction -- towards revising three chapters of my book manuscript.

I didn't get as much done as I expected -- I'm starting to get resentful of my grading, which leads me to stay up late not doing it (not doing anything else either, and yet not going to sleep), and so I got behind on this. (Why I couldn't have procrastinated with this project I don't know! Usually that works for me.)

Here's what I did do: I combed through my Introduction again and cut another three pages (about 800 words) out of it. The Introduction is now down five pages altogether. I am pleased with that. Overall, I've managed to cut about 10% of the Introduction and Chapter 1. An editor who looked at this manuscript thought it should be cut by one-third, though, so I am considering whether that is reasonable or possible.

I intended to think about restructuring the Introduction, but I'm still somewhat blocked about that. I know that I need to make the Introduction much shorter -- and that it should not be much more than a road map to the structure of the book -- and it's been suggested that I pull some of the more substantial parts out of the Introduction and give them their own chapter. I'm somewhat resistant to that but I should probably just try it and see how that would read.

The first thing I was supposed to do was to finish skimming a certain book. I'm still not done with it -- though I did read a little more.

This coming week will be incredibly busy -- I'll be receiving a stack of essay exams and have some service commitments that are ramping up -- so I am deliberately making this week's goal light.

Goal for next week: make one last pass at this book that I can't seem to get read. If I can't do anything on it this week, I will accept that I need to move on and make progress in other areas and come back to it another time.

Overall goal: unchanged. I still think I can get three chapters revised. I'm not sure I can cut them by one-third, but I think I can get them revised. Maybe one-third is an arbitrary figure anyway.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

About the spring: would it help the workload any to have section leaders? As in, you & ADM are the professors and propose the themes for the weeks, and we break into smaller groups that report and comment elsewhere? Maybe people prefer the one-big-group idea, but if you wanted to give it a shot, I'd volunteer to be a section leader.

thefrogprincess said...

Yes, notorious, high school reunion debacle are one and the same. Lessons learned. It looks like people had fun, and under other circumstances I'd have gone. But it's not everyday that you're a mere 48-96 hours away from submitting a dissertation.

Where am I with about 36 hours left? With a shitload of teaching crap on my plate, that's where. Along with a conclusion to write, footnotes to spruce up, 10-20 leads to track down and write up, an intro to attend to, on and on and on. But it will be done by Tuesday morning.

Until Friday, when I check in on time with triumphant news...

Good Enough Woman said...

Well, last week when I said I did nothing, Notorious asked how I defined "nothing." That made me realize that I did, in fact, spend some time discussing my project. Or, rather, I yammered on to a couple of different people about it. But that yammering did, perhaps, yield some insights, so I guess it wasn't totally "nothing."

This week, I had a few events that got in th way. Had to take my son to a specialist to see about a positive result on a celiac test. The good news is that the pediatric GI stated definitively that the Boy does not have celiac!

However, because of the trip, I had less time to work. I only got a few pages of the primary text done, but I did read some Descartes, and I did skim the beginning of that long article. I did not, however, free write for 10 minutes a day M-F, but I did free write twice. And I also read the introduction to a book that's been on my shelf for a while that--behold!--may be quite helpful. So I made tiny bits of progress.

Initially, when I said I wanted to write a solid draft of a dissertation chapter, I was thinking maybe I could do 25 pages. But I am really started this chapter from scratch. Before this group started, I'd hadn't even finished any of the primary texts yet. Now, I'm realizing that if I can get 15 pages finished, that will be great!

I'm not sure how much I can finish this week. I have LOTS of meeting this week, and lots of kid-related activities (meetings, recital, school carnival, etc.). Plus, my b-day is this week, AND I need to help create a couple of Halloween costumes.

So, here goes: 1) Read 20 pages of primary text, 2) Read one chapter of secondary text, 3) Read two chapters of Descartes, 4) Freewrite for 10 minutes M-F (I'm going to try that one again).

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ A.M.: Last weekend was like that for me, except that it wasn't illness, or midterms, or anything but sloth. Not even good sloth; it was the kind where you sort of are disgusted with yourself at the end of it. But whether it's of your own making (as in my case) or because of Events (as in yours), the only thing for it is to wake up and start over. So your version of the reset button is to push last week firmly into the past and move forward.

@ Naked Philologist/Highly Eccentric: For your "work out a strategy" issue, I'd recommend picking a two- to three-hour block of time each day. Make that an appointment with your writing, just as inviolable as if it were class time. Go so far as to put it on your calendar. (And I envy you an upcoming period to work on writing and other pursuits – most of us here will be starting a new semester, come January.)

@ Kris: October does seem to have been the month for everyone to get sick. I felt a touch of the sore throat yesterday, so I've been hitting the zinc lozenges pretty hard and letting myself sleep lots in hopes that I can head off the worst of it. But don't let playing catch-up goad you into too-unreasonable expectations for yourself. You want to keep your goals achievable.

@ Scatterwriter: Introductions can vary a lot, depending on the press in question. Have you looked at some of that press' recent publications in your field? That may give you a better sense of what they're looking for.

@ Dame Eleanor: Interesting suggestion. ADM and I have been thinking about creative ways to keep this going without overloading ourselves, so we'll put that in the hopper. Hell, I'd also like to think of a writing group meetup or two – at AHA, MLA, Kalamazoo, or whatever meetings a lot of us go to. It could be fun!

@ Frogprincess: My 20th high school reunion was the weekend that finished a week where I submitted my book manuscript (Tuesday), submitted my tenure file (Thursday), and gave a conference presentation (Friday). I opted to stay home and collapse for a weekend. Now: How important is that "shitload of teaching crap"? Seriously: maybe it's worth making the students wait an extra 72 hours for their papers or exams. Unless you've got a higher-up leaning over your shoulder on the grading issue, consider putting your needs and priorities first – if there was ever a time to do it, this is it. You could even share with your students that you're a bit behind because "I have a 300-page paper that I'm finishing this week," smile to include them, and tell them you'll put them in the acknowledgements. When I finished my book MS, I actually brought it, boxed, into my survey class. They'd heard me talk about those last brutal months, and when I took off the lid and showed it… they broke into applause.

@ Good Enough Woman: yep – the chapter from scratch can take months, even under the best of circumstances, and if you have teaching (not to mention family obligations), you need to plan on a little longer sometimes, depending on how much of the research is done. I'll change your goal to 15 pages, but can I also suggest putting you down for a detailed (as in, absolutely everything mapped out and plugged in) writing outline? I'd encourage this, because it will enable you to crank out the back half of that chapter pretty quickly.

Okay, that's it folks -- unless something comes in in the next 10 minutes, I'm locking her down for the week. Don't forget to catch us next weekend over at ADM's place!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Oops! Missed Heu Mihi! All I can say is 1) Congratulations on the forward motion; it sounds like you're going to hit your goal just fine. 2) "Vortex of Inactivity" sounds like me last weekend (see here: Must be something in the air. Or water. Or maybe it's just us.

Amstr said...

@frogprincess--wishing you good will as you push through the last few days!

@GEW--good news on the boy! Seems like this week might be a good week to try sneaking your work in. E.g., get to a meeting 10 min. early and do handwritten freewriting, or read a few pages of an article while the kids are in the bath, etc. Even if you end up having to review it later, at least you'll have done a first pass.

@Mike--sounds like a great goal. Progress begets progress. And two pages are better than no pages.

@Susan--congrats on your progress! Often cutting words makes as much progress to the overall quality of the article as adding them. Some days I feel like calculating a word goal--not for words written, but for all words written, cut, or changed.