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Writing Group — the finale!

19 August, 2011

Hi all. Sorry for the delay, but there were SLAC events I needed to attend today, and I sort of forgot about the fact that they clashed with me doing this! My take on this whole shebang is that it’s been really useful for me, and that I’m looking forward to it to keep me going during what is suddenly shaping up to be the semester from hell, despite a course release to work for a professional organization.

Now that we are somewhat established, we need a name. What do you think?

And as soon as Notorious and I have a chance to work things out, we’ll be putting out a call and schedule for the next session. In the meantime, for this week, let’s try to post what we got done, and what we didn’t, and how we think we might change things to be more effective next time. For my part, I think I need to think and plan more carefully, and to break more things into discrete tasks that I can accomplish, as well as coming up with more realistic goals. I got almost everything I wanted to do done, and almost everything I needed to do done. But the cost was pretty high.

What about you?

Week 12 goals:

ABDMama [Draft of an article MS]: Finish cover letters; tighten up article 2
ADM [conference paper for Leeds; revision of paper after]: Article submitted! Hooray! Review the two conference papers I am combining and revising into one article, and order from ILL as needed.
Cly [revise article for publication & draft chapter for book]: complete a draft of one of the two chapters that resulted from last week’s chapter split
Dame Eleanor [Revising a conference paper into article MS turn paper into a book!]: Keep going on 500 words a day, plus work up a more polished chapter outline
Digger [drafts of two book chapters]: get back into book chapter OR write zero draft of conference paper; Write 5 out of the next 7 days.
Dr. Koshary [work on book MS]: Finish the prospectus and send it off to the press
Firstmute [chapter draft; send out article]: Pull together the completed work!
Frog Princess [rewrite Chapter 3; get another draft of the introduction]: add inserts into three sections of the infamous chapter 3, and rewrite the introduction and conclusion
Gillian [an article that needs writing]: Done! In the editor’s in-box! Hooray!
Godiva [First draft of diss. chap.]: Write approx. 1,000 words a day to get that pesky chapter draft DONE.
J Otto Pohl [finish book]: Write final 10,000 words of book MS
Jeff [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: get the current chapter out the door, and go back to previously stated goal of polishing everything up.
NWGirl [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: knocking off the final week to prepare for the semester
Sapience [Prepare presentation of full dissertation for department – changed to Introduction needs to be finished]: draft introduction is done; awaiting feedback
Scatterwriter [Complete expansion/revision of an article MS]: Submitted! Hooray! Done!
Susan [Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS]: knocking off the final week to prepare for the semester
Travelia [prepare book MS for review]: Keep plugging on the MS, with a revised completion date for the end of Labor Day weekend
Zabeel [Complete draft of an article]: Finish a good draft, recognizing that it will need one more revision down the road
Zcat abroad (Kiwi Medievalist on WP) [write an article]: polish the chapter/article, fix the footnotes, and get it ready to send off

Awaiting report:

Eileen [First draft of a dissertation chapter]:
Erika [Review-ready draft of an article MS]:
Matilda [Draft of a publishable paper]:
Mel [Finish dissertation!]:
Tigs [Completed diss draft]**

26 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 August, 2011 9:28 pm

    Well, one of the things I didn’t get done this week was a draft chapter. It is rather upsetting – I was hoping to end on a triumphant note. I have been working steadily, but am trying to limit the odd tangents that my mind is insisting on taking.

    Self-deprecation and modesty topoi aside, I am pleased with my progress this week. I’ve worked fairly steadily on my chapter (the new structure is allowing interesting twists and turns), attempted to co-organise Leeds sessions for next year (in progress), read and commented on a chapter of a colleague’s book, and begun to deal with proofs for a co-edited volume that is coming out in December.

    Oh, and a former-and-much-superior colleague who read my draft article (which I was afraid of submitting) offered to bring it to the attention of the journal s/he’s on the advisory board for. I would be thrilled, but it’s a field-specific journal, and I was hoping for a more general medieval(ist) thing. Of course, the option of skipping the anonymous and formal peer-reviews (and waiting a year or so) is appealing. Any advice is welcome.

    When I began this summer I had hoped to finish that article, revise another, and write a chapter for a book project. In retrospect, that seems laughably optimistic! The first article is essentially done (and possibly has a home, dunno yet), the second was untouched until yesterday, the chapter is still in progress, but is now two (maybe three).

    I also edited things, dealt with computer chaos, and have had to keep my flat clean as its being sold.

    What I think I need to do in future, is have a definite and systematic research plan with reasonable goals. This means organising (not my forte) and planning (ditto). Again, re-thinking it every week helps. Many, many thanks to ADM and Notorious!

  2. 19 August, 2011 11:27 pm

    I am absolutely terrible at names (as evidenced by my online blog name which I recently outgrew but now feel stuck with). Perhaps something like “The Writing Cloud” or ??? See, terrible.

    I was productive this week. Because of this group, I’ve learned just how much you can get done in 12 weeks. I think without the group I would not have realized that with moderate work daily, I can accomplish a lot in this time frame. I entered the group with the modest goal of having a draft for an article. I exited with the draft, a second article approved, and the starting documents for the job market (I finished the drafts of my cover letters and updated my CV this week).

    I actually sat down this week and figured out my weekly goals for the next ten weeks. I start a part-time job then and want to get a lot of things done before I begin. This group has encouraged me to think in manageable week chunks! I have also read great tips for managing multiple projects.

    A wonderful group with fantastic suggestions and great hosts. Thank you ADM and Notorious! I am looking forward to the second session of our writing group, named ???

  3. 20 August, 2011 12:42 am

    @Cly, I am stealing this: “Self-deprecation and modesty topoi aside”.

    Self-deprecation and modesty aside, I’m really pleased with what I’ve managed these twelve weeks also. I turned in my chapter draft yesterday, so I met both of my goals this summer. I’m looking forward to participating in this group again, and I’d like to get better about setting small goals. I think my long term goals were realistic, but the ones that I set in weeks 4-10, say, were amorphous. I definitely would like to learn more from other folks, especially established scholars, on setting those short-term weekly goals.

    I’m bad at names. But if inspiration strikes, I’ll post a follow up.

    ALSO: in non-writing group related but still pretty awesome news, I found out today that I’ve been awarded a special surprise fellowship on top of the fellowship I already have for this upcoming year. Yay! It’s hard to celebrate with IRL people since most of my friends are also my competition, you know?

    • 20 August, 2011 1:07 am

      Congratulations on the fellowship(s)!! I totally sympathise with the troubles of celebrating with friends who were also competition, so here’s a big round of applause from us at the writing group!

    • 20 August, 2011 2:13 pm

      Yes congrats!

  4. 20 August, 2011 12:58 am

    Well, this week brought me a boat-load of essays, with the usual frustrations of marking, so I didn’t get any productive writing done. However, these essays will be handed back this next week, and then the following two weeks is our mid-semester break (already!?!), so I will continue to put things I have learnt into action, and hopefully have a fair bit to show at the end of that.

    Over these 12 weeks, I’ve learnt a lot of useful ideas about writing, some of which I’ve managed to put into practise, at least briefly. The ‘write 500 words first-thing in the morning’ was great – and I need to work harder on that. Along with ‘disconnect the internet’ – my biggest time waster. Planning the article is still not my strong suit, but I’ll work on that.

    I joined this group with the aim of writing two articles, and then cut that down to one. I now actually have substantial bones of two articles, which should be easily finish-able by the end of September, when my post-doc for writing them is up. Even with the month off to go to Leeds and have a holiday. In addition, I had an article rejected this last week, and while that is still very depressing (as it means I still have no publications on my CV other than a book review), it came with the readers’ comments, so I have some idea of how to tighten the argument before sending it off again. I guess this means that I won’t have anything new on the CV before the middle of next year, but I’m trying to stay positive.

    As for a writing group name… Are we mostly medievalists? Should we be some form of guild? “Scriviner’s Guild”? Or “Writers Anonymous”, for something more inclusive? “Hi! My name’s Kiwimedievalist, and I’ve been trying to write for X years.”

  5. 20 August, 2011 1:24 am

    How about “Authorial Intention”?

  6. 20 August, 2011 3:37 am

    This week became the first real week off from work I’ve had all summer because I spent the week waiting for feedback on the introduction (still haven’t gotten it). I got some superficial work done on my job market materials one day, and only went back to working on the dissertation today. But I spent most of the week out of town with friends doing some last-minute celebrating (or mourning?) the beginning of the new semester, and the last few days acclimating a new roommate and helping orient new grad students. And, I’m afraid the extraordinary extroversion of the last few days has completely fried my brain and left me with no cells to help come up with a writing group name.

  7. 20 August, 2011 4:03 am

    I wrote 5 out of 7 days (4 out of 5 in the M-F week), for a total of 2147 words. The manuscript is now about 11,500 words long. I said 15K this morning at my own blog, but it seems I can’t add early in the morning. Or maybe I was looking at a count that included more focused pre-writing, since there are another 8K (total) in a “thoughts about” document that I started right after last year’s Zoo. Even at the low end, I’ve averaged nearly 1000 words a week in a summer in which I also wrote a conference paper and was researching and conferencing in England for two weeks. Clearly 1000 words a day would be better, but I’d rather look at the bright side. It’s steady, sustainable production. Next week I’ll work on polishing the outline for the fellowship application.

    I like Jon’s suggestion for a name; or, maybe, toying with it a bit: Authorial Intense. I also like the idea of being the Scriveners’ Guild, though we’re not all medievalists.

    Thank you so much for hosting. It’s been really great, and I would love to continue in the next round.

  8. 20 August, 2011 5:49 am

    Despite OBE’s best attempts to drag me down to writing hell, I managed to hammer the prospectus into reasonably good shape. One might even say that I am pleased with it. I haven’t sent it off quite yet, because I need to take one more day to pore over the two most-ready chapters and see if I can spruce them up any more, or if I just can’t write another word in either one. Once I’m satisfied that they’re at least ready enough for an editor to read in the context of a prospectus, I’ll send it. Success!

    I have been referring consistently to this group as the Greater Blogland Writing Group. I admit that this may lack panache, although I’m rather fond of it — not only because it’s my own term, but because it feels like a good omnibus way to refer to the far-flung collection of scholars participating herein. I find puns like “Authorial Intense” a little too…mystery-novel, you know? Scrivener’s Guild seems a bit more apropos to me. I’m not wedded to anything, though.

    Thanks again to ADM and Notorious for arranging this, and to everyone who participated! It’s been truly helpful.

  9. Matilda permalink
    20 August, 2011 9:13 am

    Hello everyone,

    I have missed last-week’s check-in because I was on a short trip with my family. I have finally finished my task 2, and finished – I do not mean I have complete a journal article, but only read and worked – WYJA. My paper (my task 1 which I did really want to complete, but alas!)stays unfinished, though I have been reading related materials and re-examining sources. My task 3 – deadline is coming soon, but still only a tiny part done – is waiting to be written. Only one of the three tasks done, then, what I have accomplished these 12 weeks??? Oh quite a lot!

    First of all, I sincerely appreciate this wonderful project and am so grateful to two great scholars, ADM and Notorious, for hosting this. I was very lucky to come across the announcement of this writing group. Staying at home on my maternity leave, I had felt left alone and behind academic society. Even I know nobody of the members personally, living far away from most of you (I assume) , connecting only anonymously online, still I have felt we were doing something together. My goal, writing a journal article, unfortunately was not met, however, I have learned immensely, both in technical and mental ways. The ever encouraging book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks has become my personal tutor (thank you Notorious for recommending this! ). Thank you again ADM and Notorious for encouraging comments and hosting, and thank you everyone in this wonderful writing group for participation. Each of your check-ins and posts have encouraged me and helped me to motivate. I do look forward the next session!

    And name of this writing group? What about ‘Writers’ heaven’?

  10. Zabeel permalink
    20 August, 2011 11:41 am

    Hi all,

    Just to echo the general sentiment of how useful this group has been — I’ve learnt a lot about my writing habits and picked up many a good tip.

    I’m now very much a convert to setting weekly goals — the days just seem to slip by otherwise. This is something that I’m really going to continue doing. I haven’t quite finished the draft of the whole article, but perhaps that was a bit ambitious. The work is definitely shaping up, although I notice that I’m much more motivated in the early stages of planning than I am in the later stages of tidying up and making final decisions about things!

  11. 21 August, 2011 12:11 am

    Today I sent my committee a complete, review-ready draft of my dissertation. Check! Thanks all for the help and encouragement—esp. Notorious and Another (and Sapience, for getting me over here in the first place).

    • thefrogprincess permalink
      21 August, 2011 3:46 am

      Wow, props to Jeff for doing what he and I both set out to accomplishment. I, on the other hand, did not complete my original goal, the review-ready draft. I got one done about midway through, and then kinda crashed. I’ll admit, I really flagged these last three weeks. My advisor’s not-so-quick turnaround time also contributed to the anxiety and inertia. It also became clear in about July that I’ll be defending in December instead of October, so some of the urgency dissipated. I did make good headway on the most problematic chapter, but that too was overtaken by course prep. All in all, though, I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished: I wrote an introduction that was more conceptually ambitious than I would have anticipated five months ago; I revised the first chapter of the diss that I ever wrote to a level that I’m very pleased with; I put together a virtually complete dissertation; and then I solved most of the major problems of chapter 3.

      What have I learned: I desperately need a vacation that isn’t coming. I’m not great with multi-tasking–I still find it hard to do two things (good research AND course prep) in one day. Need to work on that. Not meeting overly ambitious goals doesn’t bother me–not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

      Thanks to Notorious and ADM for hosting it! I feel like the group represents the best of what the academic blogosphere can accomplish.

      • 21 August, 2011 4:08 am

        Congrats to you and Jeff both, TFP! That’s major accomplishment on both your accounts. In general, there’s no good reason to have _the_ review-ready draft up four months before defending — after all, if you have time to improve it, why wouldn’t you do so? (Unless, for whatever reason, your supervisor and your committee have demanded such.)

        I feel you on the conceptually ambitious rewrites. I had a similar experience, so I know that this is no small thing to work into your diss. You’ll get the rest of it done when you recognize that you need to. Kudos!

  12. 21 August, 2011 1:41 pm

    This week vanished in a slew of now-unpacked boxes and lethargy. I didn’t get any writing done (dammit!) but did sort out piles and piles of references and notes into something useful. Amazingly, I found Useful Bits for The Book,which will be applied.

    The group has been immensely helpful, even though I didn’t complete what I set out to do (though did get some sideline stuff done). It’s given me some tools I need to get productive, now that I’m in a position to write every day (yay!), and I hope to take part in Authorial Intent 2.0. I am deeply grateful to ADM and Notorious for taking on this project and being so involved in the discussions. Thanks also to all the other participants; I learned a lot from you all, most importantly that I’m not the only one 😀

  13. 21 August, 2011 8:21 pm

    Hello everyone!
    My apologies for missing the update last week. I has been fast and furious writing for me.
    I finally completed the drafts on the entire dissertation! Now I am addressing comments and corrections from my major advisor. I hope to complete them this week and then the document goes off to the committee!! Hoping to defend in 3 weeks.

    Thank you for hosting this group! It really helped with my writing!

  14. 22 August, 2011 12:43 am

    Sorry I’m late. I wasn’t round most of the weekend and the time I was around, I was paddling underwater, trying to keep up. I read 4 1/2 books (I’m part of a judging panel) and wrote some novel and worked on the Beast. I won’t explain the Beast now, but I would very much like to be part of any follow-up writing group because the reporting in really helped me. It meant I focussed much earlier. When the new group begins, I shall put the Beast on the table, for carving up and for (hopefully) much progress at my end.

  15. nwgirl permalink
    22 August, 2011 2:34 am

    Checking in late, again. My last couple of Fridays have been OBE. I actually managed to work on revisions three days this week in spite of August syndrome. Cannot believe classes start tomorrow. But thanks to Notorious and ADM and the support of this great group, I have an article that is nearly ready to submit. I expect to do that by the end of September.

    I liked Authorial Intent. I also liked Scrivener’s Guild even though I’m not a medievalist. I’m looking forward to the fall group. I had a much more productive summer than I would have otherwise.

    Congrats Jeff for the review ready draft. And firstmute, congrats to you as well on the fellowship. I sympathize with the awkward celebration. When I won an award for my dissertation, I had a hard time celebrating because I beat out a dear friend who was in competition for the same award.

    • nwgirl permalink
      22 August, 2011 2:39 am

      Forgot to mention, too, Dame Eleanor’s suggestion of Authorial Intense. While I like “intent,” I think I prefer “intense.” I think it captures the positive energy of this group.

  16. Godiva permalink
    22 August, 2011 3:55 pm

    Sorry for the late check-in – but I am DONE! So pleased. I had got to the word count I’d set myself on Friday, but things were a bit messy still. I had two long train journeys over the weekend, so I looked over the draft and tidied it up during that time, and filled in some references this morning. And now I have an 11,000 word chapter! On Friday I felt quite down about it, because it’s not that good and I definitely need to work on certain aspects. But now it’s ready to send to my supervisor I feel very pleased that I accomplished this (and two holidays!) in 12 weeks. There’s no way I would have done that without mapping it all out at the beginning of the period. Plus, this way it is a lot neater and many fewer notes-to-self litter the pages than normal.

    Thanks Notorious and ADM, this really helped. And congratulations to everyone else! Hopefully we will all start the new year feeling a lot less guilty because of this.

    Oh, and I like the name Scriveners’ Guild a lot! For the next time I do this, I’m going to be more ambitious in my weekly goals, so that I don’t get lazy and panic at the end…

  17. Erika permalink
    23 August, 2011 2:01 am

    I’m sorry I’ve been OBE and out of touch for a couple of check-ins. Many congrats to all for finishing articles, dissertation drafts, and earning fellowships!

    I am so grateful to Notorious and ADM for hosting this group, and so grateful to all of you who’ve been participating and teaching me so much! I am looking forward to participating in the next session, and think Scrivener’s Guild is great, even though I’m a classicist, not a medievalist.

    I met my goal, to complete my article and get it off my desk. But it came back to my desk during my summer vacation and I’ve been flagging in making the suggested edits as well as getting run over by the last bit of August before classes begin (which they did today).

    It turns out I need to make specific tiny goals for this stage of revisions as well as for writing the piece up and editing it myself the first time. How have others managed to get through revisions from others in timely fashion? 500 words a day doesn’t really work at this stage. Do you suggest working for an hour or two per day?

    For next time, I think I’ll start free-writing 500 words / day even sooner in the process, and set other bite-size daily tasks as well like editing one page, reading and digesting one article and the like. I love this structured approach that has worked so well in making progress!

  18. 23 August, 2011 8:29 pm

    It seems I have only found your writing group on its finale! Is there any hope of joining the next one?

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