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Writing Group Week 5

7 October, 2011

You know that whole “pacing yourself” thing? Well, if you know what kind of race it is, it’s far easier to do. But what if you sign up for a marathon, and all of a sudden you find it’s a cross-country steeple-chase-y thing? Sometimes, there’s not much of a choice. For example, Fall is always my busier semester. Four classes, three preps, almost always at least one of them is new. I don’t usually plan on getting research and writing done in the fall. So the first hurdle was just finding out I needed to write a paper. That’s the sort you can’t change.

But then there are the other ones. Sometimes they are things imposed from above — new university service commitments, new accreditation procedures, a brand-new shiny set of assessment standards, a search committee. Sometimes they are opportunities that seem too good to pass up. Sometimes they are simply just human interactive bullshit.

So what all do you do? How do you know which things need to be put aside, and which things don’t? There isn’t an option other than to finish, and you haven’t trained for this race. So how do you finish in relatively good time? What’s your strategy?

Goals for week 5:
ABDMama [Complete an article draft]: (1) Go through 2 bibliographic sources; (2) Begin thinking about how to incorporate comments into the work
Adelaide [write a conference paper]: finish organizing notes and start writing SOMETHING towards the paper (Adelaide, have you got a specific page or word count in mind? — NPhD)
Amcalm25/AMChristensen [finish an article]: write for at least 20 minutes every day
Amstr [revise and resubmit an article]: 1) reorganize essay according to new structure plan; 2) add argument-related sentence to the beginning and end of each paragraph; 3) write a strong intro, especially paying attention to critical context; 4) 4 more articles: read, annotate, possibly incorporate
Another Damned Medievalist [write/revise a close-to-final draft of an article]: do something tangible on the project
Antikate [revise a conference paper into an article & submit]: 1000 words and two sample articles to read.
Belledamesansmerci/Elizabeth [transform a conference paper into a journal article]: Continue writing half-hour a day and figure out how to lengthen the paper
Bitterandjaded/Bittergrrl [finishing a dissertation chapter]: take notes of the one of the primary texts and try to get at least 1000 words of solid writing out of it
Britomart [completing a draft of dissertation introduction]: work on the project 2 hours per day.
Cly(temnestra) [write a book chapter]: (i) to try for 45 minutes a day and (ii) work through one primary source
Contingent Cassandra [complete a full draft of a journal article]: write on two weekday mornings, working to flesh out at least part of one section of the outline that now exists
Dame Eleanor Hull [complete a chapter of the article-turned-book]: finish the Sample Chapter revision
Digger [write two book chapters]: Write 5/7 days. Have a finished zero draft of Why Wheels
Dr. Crazy [Finish a chapter draft begun this summer]: Write 3 pages
Dr. Virago [draft a 7500-word essay for a contracted publication]: (checked in, but no goal for this week)
Evan [write a conference paper]: re-read some older writing and see what can be cut and pasted
Forthright [write two article-length pieces]: write every day on the current paper project
Frogprincess [Final draft of the dissertation]: finish and submit introduction; do something with chapter 1; start outlining conclusion
Good Enough Woman [write a solid draft of a dissertation chapter]: read 50 primary source pages, one article, and two chapters of Descartes, taking notes on each
Heu Mihi [write paper for a faculty colloquium]: Finish up the Latin bit, read checked-out book, and take notes
Highlyeccentric/nakedphilologist [Draft two thesis chapters]: For this week – repeat the process goal: thesis work every day. Finish the first point; note-take from the French book
Jamilajamison [finish writing the M.A. thesis]: complete two more sections of this chapter
Janice/jleidl [write a first draft of a chapter]: get over 2000 words
Jennifer [finish writing a neglected article]: Write 1,000 new words
Kris [write up a “full” paper and cut down to a 15-minute conference presenation]: write the context section at the beginning
Lucie: [Complete a full draft of the PhD thesis]: Write 500 words a day on section x to be added to chapter; Start the day with this task
Luolin [finish and submit an article]: 1) Revise the outline and use it to organize my thoughts and the paper; 2) skim a new batch of references
Marie [finish turning paper into journal article]: Write 800 words
Matilda [revise a paper into a journal article]: review the related literature (Matilda, is there a writing component to this goal? –NPhD)
Merryweather [write conference paper]: write 1500 words
Mike [write ch. 2 of dissertation]: go through notes/sources and gather everything together to write part I of the outline, re-read those source and then write two pages
Monks and Bones [turn a seminar paper into an article]: 1) Carry out the data-crunching activities; 2) Reread two articles that use the same set of sources; 3) work on this at least five days this week
Notorious Ph.D. [write a conference paper]: Read at least 3 articles and one book, take notes daily, and write at least 500 good words towards the paper draft
NWGirl [Revise one dissertation chapter into a book chapter]: 1) Work on list of sources for chapter; 2). Work on outline; 3) Write 500 words x 4 days
Opsimathphd [turning a dissertation chapter into an article]: figure out the argument, then get 1500 words of “figure out what I’m thinking” writing plus 500 words of actual writing
Salimata [write a conference paper]: Write a little bit every day (Salimata, can you set a more specific goal for this? Either pages, words, or time spent writing? –NPhD)
Scatterwriter [revise three chapters of book]: read and revise the remaining 62 pages of Chapter 1
Scholasticamama [Transform a conference paper into an article]: read chapter 1 and conclusion of the diss and see what can be added into the article. Review the lit on Peter Abelard and read 2 new books received this week
Sisyphus [polish the rough draft of my article and send it out]: clean up all the bolded stuff in section 4 and put in all the correct transitions and topic sentences and conclusions
Sophylou: [finish revisions on an article and prepare it for submission]: cut the article down by 600 words
Stemi [Complete and send off a review article ]: 1) read one paper for the “sections that need more references” 2) 1000 new words in outline/draft document
Susan [write a 7000 word commissioned essay]: Aim for another 500 words
Trapped in Canadia [draft two chapters of the dissertation]: (No precise goal reported)
Viola [writing an introduction and a chapter for thesis]: proof the chapter for aforementioned grammar bits and pieces and word choice; start thinking of the next step
Zcat abroad/Kiwimedievalist [write an article]: work on introducing concept of Englishness into beginning of paper

Week 4 Absences:
Erika [write a complete & final draft of an article already underway]
Inafuturelife [transform seminar paper into a conference paper]
Katrin/StichInTime [Do we have an overall goal for you?]
Synecdoche [Finish conference paper]

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80 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 October, 2011 4:03 am

    Sample Chapter Revision DONE! Woot! It went to the recommenders on Wednesday night, & then I started revising the actual application. Awesome!

    And then there’s catching up on the grading, and a complete syllabus revision because of being behind the syllabus and so far behind on the grading. I have given up on any idea of getting awesome or even above average teaching evals this fall, and I have blown off a couple of minor committees (one meeting, one actual task that, if done right, would require several hours of reading). So clearly my strategy is to focus on what actually matters to me, and devil take everything else. I’m not sure I like this. I used to be responsible (but now I am responsible to ME and what I need). And I don’t recommend this approach to the untenured, for sure (although I don’t recommend putting writing aside, either; I guess I recommend being healthier if you’re untenured).

    At any rate, I love the metaphor. Turning a 5K into a marathon doesn’t seem like such a problem, but when you go from 5K to Ironman, or maybe to some weird orienteering thing across the wilderness with just a compass and no other useful wilderness-survival tools, it’s a whole other ballgame. I’m glad I figured out that the conference-paper-to-article was actually a book during the summer, because it would feel like an imposition to discover something like that now. But since I already made my peace with that, it’s okay.

  2. 8 October, 2011 4:08 am

    Oh, wait: I need a goal for next week. Sorry. I got carried away on the metaphor awesomeness.

    Goal: Finish revising fellowship application and send it. I want to print it on Monday, let it sit overnight, proof hard copy on Tuesday, and, I hope, mail it on Wednesday, two days early.

    Goal #2: If I do meet the early-submission goal, I will get back to the original chapter goal for this fall by reading what I’ve already written and figuring out what else that chapter needs (maybe I already have a list of what else I should do?). But I’ll do the list anyway because after a few weeks away I might see that it actually needs something else.

  3. Susan permalink
    8 October, 2011 4:09 am

    I can’t believe I’m the first! Anyway, my goal was to write another 500 words, and bite off another chunk of the paper.
    I did that — actually writing almost 700 more words. More interestingly, I went back to the email where the piece was commissioned, and realized that instead of 5000-7000 words, they wanted 5000 absolute maximum. I’m just over 4000 already, and I have the basic framework sketched, though there are a few places where I need to write a few more sentences to flesh out an idea. But that means that my shitty first draft is almost done. My goal overall was to make sure I had a draft by mid-November, but I think the mid-November draft will actually have most of the footnotes and references that I need, and be more polished than I expected. Which is lucky because:

    Steeplechases: I am chairing two search committees, one for a person outside my field, and one for a senior administrator. I expect the real work of reading applications will come in December and early January, so having this paper — due drop dead on December 31 — pretty much done by the end of November would be really helpful. I’m also department chair, chair of the faculty, and have various other responsibilities. I can’t say I’ve put things aside, but I’ve definitely been careful about taking on conferences and papers. (Oh, I’m chairing a session at my specialty conference, commenting at the AHA, and giving one paper in the spring, but that’s it.) So far, too, I’ve been *very good* about keeping my Fridays free.

    My crunch time will be in January and February, when I suspect job searches for several positions will drown me. But by then this paper will be done.

  4. Susan permalink
    8 October, 2011 4:13 am

    Oh, and like Dame Eleanor, I forgot my goal for next week. It’s to keep filling in the gaps where I don’t really know what I’m saying, or where I’ve written EXPAND. Maybe add another 500 words, but at this point I’ll be cutting stuff as well as adding so that I stay under the target. My goal is less about words, than substance.

  5. J Liedl permalink
    8 October, 2011 4:20 am

    I made it or close enough. (Word says 1987 words. I say 2k because I haven’t had time today to get back to add those last 13 or so.)

    My goal for next week will be extremely modest because I have a holiday weekend to get through beforehand during which I’m hosting my in-laws, so that includes a crazy round of house-cleaning and visiting. I also have 60 essays and 15 essay proposals to mark, a midterm to write. Add in regular teaching obligations, of course. There are three chapter to edit, two sections of a correspondence course manual to review and all the paperwork for a major department meeting to tackle as well as the meeting itself.

    My goal for next week is to take notes from three more research sources. This kind of work suits itself to the ‘steal fifteen minutes here or there’ and is vital when I’m ready to write the final section of the chapter in a few more weeks.

  6. Evan permalink
    8 October, 2011 5:41 am

    This week finds me writing without a goal. The conference that I was to attend by video-link is probably not going to happen because the conference doesn’t use Skype.

    In some ways this will help me keep a manageable workload over the next few months – I’ve still got a paper that is already two weeks overdue!

  7. 8 October, 2011 7:46 am

    I’ve done a clean draft of one of my three chapters and just need to revise it one more time for my supervisor. It’s 4,000 words, which is what it is supposed to be. It’s less tangled than it was, but still not nearly as lucid as I want it.

    I’m 1/3 through my goals and on schedule, which I’m pleased as punch about given that my state of physical health is still a bit of a mess. My goal for this next week is to complete the research for the first half of the next chapter, a much bigger chapter, so I’ve divided the work into two blocks. It’s not a big aim because Day of Atonement plus a long weekend are both getting in the way, and my supervisor has promised me a return of earlier work, too (‘earlier work’ being much novel). This is the first of four weeks I have to finish the next chapter, to put it in context.

    I’ve now got time to let this week’s chapter sit and mutate in my mind, which means that it will achieve a higher level of lucidity before my supervisor sees it. I’ve learned the hard way that some things just take time and iterations. This week’s chapter didn’t need as much research, but it needed a lot more thinking, which is why I put it early.

    And that’s it from me. Sorry about the time differences etc making it hard for me to comment on the extra tasks and thoughts each week. Now that seminars/conventions/ holy days are almost past, that element will be easier.

  8. 8 October, 2011 8:38 am

    Towards the end of this week, I had a surprise presentation sprung on me for the end of the month – one hundred years past my comfort zone, and in the wrong country. It’s manageable, but barely. So my attention and writing time were hijacked. However, I did manage to write for at least 45 minutes on my book chapter on 4/7 days of the past week, and make it through most of my primary source. (This is primarily thanks to Notorious’ timer method and NWGirl’s tomatoes link – I don’t have a timer at the moment and have been too distracted to search).

    I am not terribly good at dealing with sudden surprise extras and have been lectured by the Mr and others about learning to say ‘no’. In general, I’m a bit reluctant to say no to anything that will actually help students or to really interesting new research proposals. I’ve become much better at saying no to administrative things, but only because I have enough of them to convince other people that I actually am too busy to take on anything else. In short, my answer is that I also struggle with this and would love to hear what others have to say.

    My cool discovery of think week (yes, I know, that was last week’s question) was just how much of the Cologne archive has been digitised.

    It is so tempting to set a vague goal of ‘daily writing’, but I think that if I can avoid major disasters, I can have a draft of the chapter I’m working on finished (albeit a rough draft, with lots of bits that need translating). I still need to find a work plan…

  9. 8 October, 2011 9:28 am

    First of all, my overall goal is to get my old MA thesis into a publishable version – it has to be checked, re-written at least in large parts, and extended quite a bit. Since it’s hard to estimate time needs for quite a few things of the planned extension, I was quite sure that I would not be able to make it in the 12 weeks (proven very, very true by now), but I want at least to finish getting an overview of how much work would be left and a good first draft with comments to hand to the editor.

    Regarding last week’s absence, I was away from Thursday to Tuesday (work-related) and there’s just no internet on a living history event. However, I had not managed to work much on the writing project (due to the two-and-a-half day week), so shifted the last goal to the week now gone by. Which was, incidentally, another two-and-a-half day week for all practical purposes.
    I have still not finished reading the Norwegian stuff on that list due to a language block – I know that, and it sometimes occurs and just takes a while and another try on another day, when I can read it better again. I have, however, managed to look through quite a few other books and am having a clearer picture on where I can add things very well and where it is going to be a not-so-easy task.

    So, as usual, I have made some progress, but not in the area that I had planned to make progress in. And I should really learn to think ahead and realise when a week is not going to have five work days but only two.

    Next week’s goal: Get this project a bit higher up in the priority line, which should be easier this week than in the last two weeks. Read through one book from the stacks accumulated each day so that I can give back at least 5 books to the library or close their pdf files next week.

  10. Kris permalink
    8 October, 2011 10:33 am

    I finished my goal, which was to have the front framework written. It’s a draft but it’s in pretty good shape.

    I have no writing goals for this week. I have a PhD student’s final draft to read (70,000+), two Honours students submitting 12,000 word thesis on Friday and 20 undergrad papers to mark in addition to unit prep and watching my dvd of the second series of Curb Your Enthusiasm before it goes back to the library. It’s a busy week and pretending to myself that I can do anything else would really get in the way of the dvd watching – and my mental and physical wellbeing.

    On saying ‘No’ and saying ‘Yes’: I say yes to things that will contribute to a coherent research identity (although I’ve not got a BIG sign on my whiteboard stating NO NEW RESEARCH), yes to things that matter to me professionally and personally (for example, I’m on the research ethics committee which is a big time and energy suck but research ethics are something I’m committed to), yes to things that help students within what I consider the limits of my duty (this is sometimes a resentful yes, depending on the context, task and the tenor of the request). All of these yeses (?) are in the context of a strategic plan for my next promotion, so there are things that fit the above criteria that I’ll say no to because they won’t add meaningfully to my c.v. But I’ve got tenure and a lot of goodwill where I work so saying ‘no’ to things doesn’t have any terribly significant impacts upon my job prospects or security.

    I guess my criterion is, ‘How does this fit with what I value in my self as a person and as an academic?’ To work with the metaphor, this means that when the race gets changed I might get tired but I don’t get lost or end up running over a cliff or into a swamp.

  11. Merryweather permalink
    8 October, 2011 1:12 pm

    I didn’t quite make my goal of writing 1500 words, but at least I made a start on the actual writing. I wrote about 1350 words. On the downside, I am really really not getting into this conference paper/book chapter. I just don’t like it very much. I am doing it because I needed something for a conference organized by important people involving lots of people I want to be at a conference at, in far away research country. But I don’t feel like I have all that much to say on the topic, and the research base is less than solid (and it’s too late to do anything about that).

    So, I really need to keep writing, and am aiming for another 2000 words by the end of this coming week, or ideally a total 3500. If I can do that, I’ll have broken the back of the article, which is only supposed to be 5000 words. But more significantly I need to find a way to like the article and be interested in it. My PhD adviser used to say, once you know what you’re trying to say, getting the words written isn’t difficult, which was kind of useful and useless advice at the same time. I *know* that’s the reason I’m struggling to write … but it doesn’t help me get to a point where I know what I’m trying to say.

    Process-wise, this week it’s going to be hard to carve out writing time some days, but I will focus on writing for two hours on Monday and Thursday, and all day Friday.

  12. 8 October, 2011 2:01 pm

    Teaching and job stuff really took their toll on my time this week. Though my goal was to get 1000 solid words down on the work I read, those 1000 words ended up going into my job letter, my CV, my research agenda, and comments to students. Somehow my time has been taken up by meetings, a new responsibility as a conference assistant and doctor’s appointments for chronic conditions that I’m finally taking care of. But to be honest taking care of these things was just higher on the list this week. It’s not an excuse, just a fact of life sometimes.

    However…I did get the one primary work read. I read it several times and took some solid notes on it which I can turn into something good for the chapter. This means that the 1000+ words *should* be easy to get down, since theoretically I know what I’m going to say now.

    So I’m going to have to roll my 1000 words over into my goal for next week.

    Goal for next week:
    1) 2000 words on the work I just read.
    2) Meet with my adviser to talk about the direction the chapter is going in.

  13. Sisyphus permalink
    8 October, 2011 3:19 pm

    I got back to my article on Wednesday and Friday! I pulled everything I needed for a couple of those “For more on this, see…” footnotes and cleaned up a couple paragraphs. Not sure if I’m totally happy with the rewrite on one of the paragraphs.

    I know I said the goal was to clean up this subsection, but stupid postdoc place won’t let me renew my ILLs a second time (and I did not know this) so this weekend I will go through them all and incorporate them into the article and return them. *Then* I’ll move back to section 4.

    I freely admit I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to juggling teaching and research (and yes that is my coping strategy). “Fake it til you make it” is great for impostor syndrome stuff but people don’t give you help or advice unless you admit to them you don’t know what to do. That and there’s this coffee mug that reads “Never make irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry.” Also a good motto. It’s easy to feel beaten down and depressed when forcing a writing session while exhausted and I have cut or messed up good writing by trying to work while in a state of despair over ever getting it right.

    But not today! Today I am filled with the power of COFFEE!!!!!!!!! Whoo!

  14. Scatterwriter permalink
    8 October, 2011 3:59 pm

    My goal for this week was to re-read and begin revising the 62 remaining pages of Chapter 1 of my book manuscript, toward an overall goal of revising three chapters altogether. And I mostly did it! There are still a couple of revisions that haven’t been incorporated into the master document, but only a couple. At this point, I am mainly trying to cut the draft down — reorganization will have to come later. In the past three weeks, I’ve been working on the Introduction and Chapter 1 — in total 137 manuscript pages — and I’ve managed to cut about eight pages out, three from the Intro and about five from Chapter 1. (The ms as a whole has gone from 115,450 words to 113,630 words.) That’s a beginning but not actually enough. Chapter 1, which started at 85 pages, is the real monster. The Introduction is now about 50 pages and I’d like to get Chapter 1 down to 65 or so if I can. So I have a lot more work to do on it.

    One thing I need to do — and am wary of doing — is cite my own publications in my manuscript. I’ve tended to avoid this, at least at the time of first submission. When I was starting out, I was having a hard time getting published, and I think it was partly because I was leaving too many clues about my identity in my footnotes (citing my dissertation, thanking my friends and colleagues and advisors for insights, etc.) Let’s just say that in my field there is a big methodological divide and I am on the less established side of it, and the side that has been dominant thinks the rest of us are wrongheaded. At any rate, after a number of rejections with the most scathing commentary possible, I started expurgating anything that would identify me (but also making suggested changes whenever I agreed with them), and then my work started to get accepted I don’t know how much of this is just lingering paranoia, but I am still leery of putting in references to my other work in a first submission. I typically wait until after something has been accepted, and then I stick all those references back in.

    Anyway, it now occurs to me that if I could cite my own work, I might not have to make the same argument all over again, and that might save some space. Presumably, at this point, everybody knows who it is that works on this particular material and this set of issues, anyway.

    Thinking about ADM’s marathon idea, I notice that I am mostly meeting my goals in both research and teaching, both of which I’ve been prioritizing. I’m caught up with grading and have prepped my next classes. I mentioned once that I am typically trying to balance five things: family, health, teaching, research, service. Usually the thing that gets lost from the mix is research. Having fit research back in, I now find that health is going out the window. Partly this is a fall semester / teaching first-years thing, I think — I’m just being exposed to a lot of germs right now — and so I’ve been sick on and off for the last two weeks, more on than off. Still, I find it interesting that I can’t ever seem to do it all.

    Goal for next week: continue trying to cut down my mammoth Chapter 1, and skim a recently published source to see if any new ideas need to be incorporated into this chapter.

    • Scatterwriter permalink
      8 October, 2011 4:04 pm

      P.S. Sorry about the unintended run-on sentence! I actually had to revise my comment for length — hard to believe, but it started out much longer. I just tend toward verbosity, I guess. My writing persona thinks, why say something just once if I can say it twice? And in the revision of the comment, a necessary period got lost.

  15. Matilda permalink
    8 October, 2011 4:37 pm

    Hello, all,

    This week has been the first week of my semester this year. I did not realised how I would be busy once the classes started. Preparation for lectures take time, probably I am doing something new, and administrative work – though I am only doing what I was asked to do- take more time, because I am so slow in filling the forms, writing a report and so on.

    Therefore, I have only touched what I planned to do this week. Following the week 5 of WYJA, this week I had planned to review related literature of the paper which I am working on to publish, but I only re-read some of the related articles.

    Thank you for your comment, Notorious, I need to commit writing. I think I am going to set a goal of words number.
    For next week: again, reviewing the related literature following the week 5 section of WYJA; 500 +words of my draft.

    Matilda

  16. 8 October, 2011 4:57 pm

    Checked the blog last night but did not post–but this week I can report 750 words and a fresh start. Goal for this week: finish 1000-word review.

  17. firstmute permalink
    8 October, 2011 5:04 pm

    So, I know I lost my place in this session (turns out, this isn’t really the semester for extended writing projects), but I wanted to share some good news: the article that I submitted in the middle of the last session was conditionally accepted. Hooray!

    Hope to get my act together for next time.

  18. Stemi permalink
    8 October, 2011 6:49 pm

    Project goal: Complete and send off a review article

    Weekly goal: 1) read one paper for the “sections that need more references” 2) 1000 new words in outline/draft document

    Weekly goal 1 was met and exceeded (probably 3 papers fully read, many more scanned or read spottily for relevant topics). Weekly goal 2 was not met (500 new words only).

    Here’s the deal. When I started writing on certain sections, it became clear that I can write a short “outline-y” statement about what I want to say, but I don’t really understand the issue/point to the extent that I need to in order to write with any authority or specificity on it. This is a bit scary, and has resulted in my wanting to, again, Read All The Papers.

    A plus this week: I wrote on this project 3 of 7 days, keeping it closer to top of mind.

    Goal for week 6: 1) At least 30 minutes writing or reading on project, 4 of 7 days. 2) 500 new words in outline/draft document. There will be reading, but I won’t make a target for it.

    • Amstr permalink
      9 October, 2011 6:28 am

      In order to avoid the “Read all the papers” syndrome, I often try to write my ideal paragraph. Assuming I can find research to support my point, what would my argument say? What do I understand about the issue? What’s my hunch, my best guess, about the way the argument would proceed? Best case, I’m right and with further study (later) I can leave a lot of what I’ve written. Worst case, I understand in more detail what I do and don’t know about the issue and my research can be more focused. I also tend to put these sections in a different font color or with some large marking that reminds me it’s all speculative.

      • Stemi permalink
        9 October, 2011 6:59 pm

        Hello Amstr!

        Thanks for your suggestion! I will try it this week, and report back.

  19. Adelaide permalink
    8 October, 2011 8:10 pm

    I’m floundering in the “oh but I need to address this” one secondary source leading to another point where I should be past… good thoughts are coming together – so I don’t feel like nothing is getting accomplished, but it’s not quite where I’d like to be. (Then again I’ve had two migraines and a sinus infection this week too, so… life is what it is).

    I’m also waiting to find out just how long the presentation is supposed to be because I realized (belatedly) that NOTHING says that… not the cfp, not the symposium website (that doesn’t have a complete schedule up) NOTHING…

    Next weeks goals are going to be to accomplish ANYTHING because I made the mistake of agreeing to fly to my parents over fall break… Then again, a bit of rest I think may be all I need to finally get going like I should have been on this…

  20. 8 October, 2011 8:57 pm

    I did not finish my Latin, but I only have a little bit left to do, so whatever. I *did* read the relevant bit of the book I was supposed to read and worked it into part 3. I also started turning the notes on part 1 into paragraphs.

    Therefore and thusly, this week I shall FINISH the Latin, look at that German book that’s in my office and determine its relevance, and begin converting part 3’s notes into paragraphs.

    I am not working consistently this semester. I have 4 preps, chair the curriculum committee, and am trying to revise the Honors Program curriculum, which involves meeting individually with approximately 200 people (or so it seems). Plus I occasionally like to have fun with my husband and friends. And the cats need petting. So I figure, as long as I’m doing something every week and checking in here, I’m doing perfectly fine. I don’t need to add any pressure to myself!

  21. 8 October, 2011 10:54 pm

    I did *so* give a goal last week. It’s this: “I really need to put the damn writing first!”

    And I failed at it. EPIC fail. Not only did I not make my 750 words/week goal (that’s my usual word count goal for most weeks), and not only did I not put the damn writing first, but — wait for it — I didn’t write a single damn word! Zero. Nada. Writing wasn’t in last place — it didn’t even enter the race! Argh!

    So, in short, I’m feeling your marathon-turns-into-steeplecase metaphor. I fell in the mud obstacle back in the first leg. 😦

    (Also, I failed to return to Notorious’s post to comment on other people’s posts. I suck. I’m not even going to promise that this time because I’m in no place to give advice.)

    This week’s goal is, first and foremost, to simply WRITE. Beyond that, it’s to write on Monday and Wednesday mornings and to write at least 500 words, but, I hope, closer to 600. Normally I’d write Friday, too, but I’m leaving (on a jet plane!) for a short trip later that day and will probably need Friday morning to pack.

    On that note, I won’t be internet-enabled next weekend, so I’ll be absent from check-in (and I know the consequences if it happens again). The goals for the week after that will be the default 750 words.

    • 8 October, 2011 11:14 pm

      absent fromt check-in when you’ve given advanced notice isn’t an absence…

      • 9 October, 2011 3:23 pm

        Really? Cool! Thanks for letting me know. (See, when I do attendance/participation grading in my classes, an absence is an absence is an absence — they all get a zero for the day.)

      • 9 October, 2011 11:59 pm

        yep — excused absences happen, and letting us know that you’re going to be gone for a week *is* remaining accountable. Just make sure to get back with us right after.

  22. Viola permalink
    9 October, 2011 2:52 am

    The idea of pacing is something I have been thinking about a lot lately as well. It is strange making the transition from undergraduate 24 hour essay benders to sustained meaningful work on the one project in addition to whatever other obligations are thrown at you. Obviously mine are not going to be anywhere near that yours but it is an interesting dynamic and one I do have to learn to deal with.

    I did complete my goals this week but my supervisor needs more editing. But I have been told that at this point no further research is needed but if I want to do very, very well then I need to edit much more. I’m finding it so difficult to edit my own work because it is hard to see something as grammatically incorrect when you’ve written it yourself. Thus my goals for this next week is to edit per my supervisor’s advice and to continue fleshing out my overall project for a meeting next Thursday. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish my goal of writing an intro or lit review within the 12 weeks because I need to do much much more research for this new angle I’m taking. But the group writing is really beneficial so I definitely will keep showing up.

    • Amstr permalink
      9 October, 2011 6:33 am

      One trick for catching grammar or sentence errors is to read the essay backward sentence by sentence. It helps to break the sentence out of context and forces you to look at it as a discrete grammatical unit. And there’s also no shame in asking a grammatically-minded friend to give it a look.

    • 10 October, 2011 1:42 am

      I catch most of my grammar and run-on weirdness (and more than occasionally some WTF was I trying to say here, anyway?!?!?!) by reading it out loud. Not mumbling through it quickly, but reading it out loud as though to a room of people. Very helpful!

      • Viola permalink
        10 October, 2011 4:50 am

        Thanks Amstr and Digger, those are two very good ideas. I have tried the read aloud tip before but I probably just mumble through after the third page. I will give these a go, thanks!

  23. Contingent Cassandra permalink
    9 October, 2011 3:23 am

    Short version: I succeeded in writing on two weekday mornings (Tues. and Fri.) plus Saturday morning, all for relatively short periods of time. Did more re-reading and continuing to outline than fleshing out than I expected, but it was still productive. I’m definitely going to end up writing more than will fit in each section, then cutting/condensing. That can be overdone, of course, but generally works for me.

    Goal for next week: focus on reading — primary documents and some secondary ones — to get myself back to a “big picture” perspective by the end of the week. Actual writing will resume the week after next (explanation below).

    Longer version: I think aiming for writing on two of Tues., Thurs., or Fri. mornings is going to work reasonably well, though October is definitely going to be harder thanks to several packed/atypical weeks in a row (and, of course, the increasing press of grading, though at least the need to create new assignments and exercises because I have new classes is diminishing somewhat. On the other hand, I need to begin doing some of that for a class next semester that needs to be planned well before Dec/Jan). I’m still finding new things in the first primary source (the subject of the section I’m working on right now) when I re-read it to get myself back into working mode (it’s relatively short), and found myself spending more time on outlining and noting examples than I expected this week. Partly because of all the structuring/moving things around type work, I found myself looking at Scrivener, and decided that I’d like to try it soon, probably not on this article, but perhaps on the next one (by which time it looks like the 1.0 Windows version might be out). It definitely looks like something I want to try out before I tackle my next really big project (probably a book), and even for an article of the length I’m writing (5,000-9,000 words), it would be really helpful to be able to skip from section to section rather than endlessly scrolling.

    My plans for this week are a bit counterintuitive, and perhaps not the best timing, but because I have a brown-bag-type thingie at the end of the week in which I’ll do a bit of presenting and much more leading discussion on the subject (and some of the materials) of the article, I’ve decided that I need to devote any time I have available this week (which is a slightly weird thanks to the Columbus Day holiday and some calendar manipulation that my university does to avoid missing two Monday classes and no Tuesday ones in the course of the semester — this Tuesday is officially a Monday) to reading. I’m really enjoying the writing, but at the moment, I’m very much focused on the detail level, and I need to be engaged with the bigger picture in order to lead an effective discussion. The bad news is that i won’t be writing this week; the good news is that, in the process of preparing, I’ll be looking at some ancillary sources that I haven’t examined in some time, and that — as I discovered this morning when I began work — will yield some useful material for quick allusions in the article that will help me connect my ideas to earlier scholarship, and generally show that I’m aware of the larger picture. So I’m a bit concerned about interrupting a writing rhythm that I’d just begun to establish, but, given how the coming month looks, I suspect that continued progress on the article is going to be more a matter of determinedly snatching moments where I can (and thinking ahead to where I might find those moments) rather than following a regular routine anyway.

  24. 9 October, 2011 3:35 am

    OK, I am really stoked, everyone. I definitely accomplished my goal this week – despite hassles on another project (really? seriously co-editor? is that how we’re gonna play this?) I managed to write every single day, several hundred words each day, for a total of over 3000 good words. It’s not all referenced yet and it obviously needs cleaning up, but it’s not crap, or at least, mostly not. All in all, the first month of my sabbatical has been more productive writing-wise than any month in my career except perhaps some panicked months during dissertation-writing: looks like about 11,000 words written, not counting the thousands upon thousands of words of transcription. I credit this group a lot for keeping me honest and on track. So, thank you!

    Because I am nothing if not neurotic, I have to confess that I feel very guilty being on sabbatical because of how much time I have to write, so that anything I do, there’s this little nagging voice saying, “Yes, but somebody else is teaching 12 credit hours and also writing, so you’re not so hot!” So, uhh, I apologize neurotically if you are that person.

    My goal for myself for this week is simple: keep on with it, as I have many more words to go, and bits to write, and why mess with a good thing, so just write every day, ideally averaging about 400-500 words per day. But I am also going to make an effort to comment here to help some other participants, which I haven’t really been good at doing, because you are all doing such awesome things.

    Forthright

    • Susan permalink
      10 October, 2011 5:44 am

      Forthright, I assume you have had the semesters where YOU taught 12 credit hours, or whatever, so don’t feel guilty. I’m sure you more than earned your sabbatical. And part of sabbatical is resting…

  25. 9 October, 2011 4:50 am

    Just as well I set a small goal, as I came down with some sort of bug in the last half of the week. And yet, this time, I managed to achieve the goal! Turns out that writing something that was about 8,000 words in the thesis into 200 words in an article is more tricky than I thought, but it’s starting to look right.

    Next week, I aim to have finished this article, so I can resubmit it, so that when I send in job applications, I have a ‘revised and resubmitted’, which is still as close to ‘published’ as I’ve got.

  26. 9 October, 2011 6:20 am

    How to complete a marathon when there is no other option and I haven’t trained? It freaks me out just to think about it, and it brings up memories of various times in my life when I would be up at 3:00am, crying, just wishing I could sleep. Usually, in order to finish, I guess I start abandoning things (like sleep, friends, health) by the roadside. I know it’s not good, but what else is one to do?

    But it’s been a long time since I was in that space, and it would be great if I could finish the dissertation without having to “go to there,” but I’m fully expecting to hit some of those spots towards the end. They say that the last six miles of a marathon are harder than the first 20, right? Well, I expect the last six months of the diss to be like the last six miles of a marathon.

    Anyway, this week’s goals were modest: 50 pages of a primary text, one article, and two chapters of Descartes, taking notes on each. Despite the modesty of the goals, I didn’t finish, partly as a result of last weekend’s camping, I think. Also we had a strategic planning retreat on Friday. I might still get some things finished tomorrow, but I have a lot of grading to do, so it doesn’t look good.

    This week, I finished about 20 pages of a primary text, and that’s it. Next week will be hard because I have an accelerated developmental writing class that ends, and the following week a new class (for which I have yet to write the syllabus) begins. Also, I’ll be at a conference this Wed-Fri.

    So my goals? Finish the 30 primary sources pages I didn’t do this week, read two chapters of Descartes, and write the first 500 hundred words of the new chapter, just to start seeing where my mind is.

    My other goal? Effectively deal with the guilt I’ll feel when I tell my daughter I’m leaving for two days and she starts to cry while begging my to stay.

    • Amstr permalink
      9 October, 2011 6:43 am

      Hi GEW–Definitely give yourself grace at the end of the accelerated class. It’s a beast of a class already, and then the end can be especially hairy.

      I wish I had the kid-guilt thing worked out. I’m already prepping for being away for a few days in April for a diss.-related trip. (The longest I’ve been gone from mine is 26 hours.) Let me know what effective things you find!

  27. Amstr permalink
    9 October, 2011 7:14 am

    Goals: 1) reorganize essay according to new structure plan; 2) add argument-related sentence to the beginning and end of each paragraph; 3) write a strong intro, especially paying attention to critical context; 4) 4 more articles: read, annotate, possibly incorporate

    I’m finding that every week ends up being focused on dealing with some major anxiety. This week’s goals produced two: messing with the commented-on document from my editors and diving into my argument. I got through the first fear, and it wasn’t so bad. Upgrading Word from my archaic 2003 version helped immensely, and once I made some rather simple changes and additions, I found I’m not so afraid to mess it up. The second one was too much to tackle in a crazy week. I had the perfect storm of a traveling spouse, teacher in-service days for my son’s school, and a traveling babysitter. The end of the week has been shot.

    BUT I did reorganize the essay and re-read it, and it’s already much better. And I did get through four articles, one of which is incredibly helpful. I also re-checked all my primary source texts in the appropriate edition (I had used a non-preferred ed. in my draft).

    I also managed to use most of my work time for actually working, despite avoiding two of my tasks. A colleague sent me this article, which helped me justify my strategy: http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-ProcrastinateStill/93959 . So now I just need to find a bigger thing to procrastinate about so I can get my argument tightened up.

    (Side note: I also did some work on another project and got some advisor feedback, and that project is going to be less difficult than I anticipated, so I should be able to focus more on this one.)

    For next week, including some repeats from this week: 1) add argument-related sentences to the beginning and end of each paragraph; 2) write a lame intro that gives some space to critical context; 3) tighten up the lame intro into passable; 4) 4 articles and 2 books: read/skim, annotate, possibly incorporate

    • amcalm25 permalink
      9 October, 2011 4:12 pm

      Strategic procrastination. I like it. Thanks for the link!

      • Scatterwriter permalink
        10 October, 2011 1:05 am

        I’d never read this article from the Chronicle but this is a great description of my usual working method. I’m working on my book manuscript now as a way of avoiding the final revision of an accepted journal article which is due in August. The book manuscript has no deadline of any kind. If I worked on the article now, I’d be procrastinating a lot and getting no research done whatsoever. So my strategy is to work on the book manuscript instead (thereby getting something done on it, finally) and hope that panic and terror will make me finish my article just ahead of the deadline.

  28. monksandbones permalink
    9 October, 2011 11:11 am

    I was more or less successful with my goals for the week – I did my rereading, and got started on the data-crunching. On the other hand, I didn’t manage five days of work. I lost a day to being gloomily convinced there was nothing left for me to say on the topic after one of the article rereads – serves me right for trying to mentally catalogue articles in my research language by trying to identify their single main point. I did four days of work, though, and I also independently overcame my reread-induced slump.

    As for the question of the week, that’s something I’m still working on. I usually set out to do everything and see what sticks, which generally results in me being far less productive than I should be. I do recognize that it’s neither a productive nor a healthy strategy, though.

    My goals are once again to do some work on the project at least five days next week, and to get myself to a point with my data-crunching where I’ll be ready to start doing some preliminary writing the following week.

  29. Jennifer permalink
    9 October, 2011 1:52 pm

    Wow, a lot of people had good weeks! Congrats to everyone that completed their goals! It’s encouraging to read about the group’s collective progress. I am also finding it extremely helpful to see what kinds of goals others are setting.

    I set out to write 1,000 words this week, which turned out to be too much for my first week back at the writing. I only managed to write 300 words, which is something, but not much. It was also my first week at my new research institute in a new city, so perhaps I should have aimed a bit lower. In any case, I’m fairly settled in at this point, so no more excuses! Just lots of writing.

    My goal for this week is to write 500 new words and to read 3 new articles.

  30. Lucie permalink
    9 October, 2011 3:14 pm

    (Summary of next week’s goals at the end.)

    I actually got more written overall than I had set as my goal last week, but I didn’t achieve the part about writing every day. It seems that every week I have at least one day where I get thrown off kilter and get very little done. It could be caused by something as simple as not having enough sleep the night before, or some minor thing that I worry about too much. So, this week, my goal is to not allow this to happen to any of my working days. If I am feeling off kilter for some reason, I want to find a way that it doesn’t take over my whole day. I think my best strategy for this will be starting my day without internet and with at least an hour’s writing work before I go checking email, etc. I’ll set the same modest goal of 500 words, this time for one of the two chapters I’m working on, in the hope that not aiming too high will help fix this thing of losing whole days. (But I secretly hope to get more written.)

    Goals for next week: 500 words a day, starting my day with writing. Sticking with this every day and not having any day completely lost.

    And now I’m going off to read the rest of the updates.

    • Contingent Cassandra permalink
      9 October, 2011 8:54 pm

      If you find a cure for days that start off kilter and go downhill from there, please do let us know. As far as redoubling efforts to write every day goes, it sounds like you have a strategy to make that work. But if you realize that most weeks you’re able to write 6 days out of 7 (or n out of any planned n+1), maybe it makes more sense to scale the goal back to what you can regularly achieve (and then, if you can exceed it)? I suspect different strategies work better for different people. I tend to do better setting modest goals and occasionally exceeding them than setting “reach” goals and often failing the achieve them, but for others the reach may be inspiring rather than dispiriting. For me, I think, it’s partly a matter of information: I like to have some idea of how long doing x usually takes me, even if it’s much longer than I wish it were.

  31. Trapped in Canadia permalink
    9 October, 2011 3:21 pm

    Let’s consider this a placeholder post. Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving, so it’s still officially a weekend and I’m determined to get most of this chapter finished by then. It’s almost there!

  32. Dr. Crazy permalink
    9 October, 2011 3:24 pm

    Last week, I scaled back my goal to just write three pages and to schedule in time for research. While I didn’t quite get to the three pages, I *did* schedule in time for research and I *did* make progress, including doing some reading that was essential to keep moving forward and some reorganizing of stuff I already had – in other words, I declare this week a success, even if I didn’t quite get to my three pages.

    For next week, I have no goal, and I likely won’t check in next weekend because I’m going on a trip! A vacation style trip! And I’m not taking the computer with me and I’m not taking work with me. This is causing me massive amounts of anxiety right now (How can I possibly take 5 days away in the middle of the semester?!?!) but I’m convinced that this will be a good use of my time in terms of sanity/staying motivated for the next 8 weeks.

    • 10 October, 2011 12:01 am

      Are you and Dr. Virago headed to Fiji together?

      • 10 October, 2011 3:12 pm

        Heh heh, I just came on here to say “Me, too!” in response to Crazy. But no, we’re not traveling together (though, apparently, we have the same Fall Break schedule). I don’t know where Crazy’s going, but I’m going to Amsterdam to meet up with a friend for what Crazy might call a Vagina Power Weekend. 🙂

        Yeah, Amsterdam. In the middle of the semester. I’m nuts.

      • Dr. Crazy permalink
        10 October, 2011 8:02 pm

        Huzzah for Amsterdam! Huzzah for VPW! I’m actually going to Napa Valley to visit with a high school friend and his husband. It promises to be a trip filled with lovely wine and relaxation and amazing food. I can’t wait!

  33. amcalm25 permalink
    9 October, 2011 4:09 pm

    Okay. So this was not the most successful week in terms of my project. My goal had been to just keep writing for 20 mins at least per day. I may have managed 20 minutes all week. But I did manage to get loads of courses-related materials finished for my students. And I managed to read an unscheduled article while giving a make-up exam that may have given me a new direction for my project, or a later incarnation of the “big idea” I am working on. Fall break has also begun for me as of Friday, and I have to confess that instead of spending time on writing I enjoyed a whole unproductive day of doing nothing academic. I of course now feel guilty for the unproductive day, but hopefully the downtime will pay off in the mental health sphere.

    Since I am “off” from my regular teaching gig, but do have to teach at my adjunct gig two days, I am hopeful that I can get into a good rhythm this week and spend some real time both writing and figuring out how to fit together the stuff I have been hammering out. So I am going to up the ante and commit to at least 40 minutes/5 days of writing this week. I am very tempted to commit to more time, but I am still liking the feeling of success when I pull off the promised time goal, or exceed it. Perhaps this is underachiever-ish, but since I am still a recovering scribophobic, I think it’s the best way forward. I also have a few more sources that I need to read, so I will add reading/note taking three sources.

    • Contingent Cassandra permalink
      9 October, 2011 8:47 pm

      Days off are often *very* productive in the long run, but somewhat less so if one spends them feeling guilty. I think the issue to work on is the guilt, not the need to take a day off now and then (figuring out what the optimum interval is can also be useful).

      • 9 October, 2011 9:28 pm

        Guilt is a common theme in my life (as I suggested in my comment above), and I see I’m not alone! I wonder if guilt is totally useless or if it is somehow useful. If it’s useless, then we really should try to get rid of it all together, but maybe it serves a purpose?

    • Amstr permalink
      10 October, 2011 5:19 am

      Sounds achiever-ish rather than underachiever-ish to me.

  34. Marie permalink
    9 October, 2011 9:02 pm

    This was such a busy week, with all kinds of weird things cropping up. I did get around 500 words written, I’m not sure how. Goal for next week: clean up what’s been written.

  35. Trapped in Canadia permalink
    9 October, 2011 11:34 pm

    Ok, I didn’t quite finish my chapter. No surprise there, but it really is almost done. If I write another 1000 words, it will be done and these particular 1000 words are pretty much sketched out, so I think I’ll be done Tuesday at the latest.

    That means my goal for this week is to finish this chapter, outline my chapter on Jacobite women, and start reviewing my research for the Jacobite women chapter. I’m at a conference all next weekend, though, so might not be able to check in, although I really want to, if only to say that I finally finished the chapter that is my nemesis currently!

    • Amstr permalink
      10 October, 2011 5:21 am

      How fabulous to be so close! You can do it!

  36. 9 October, 2011 11:39 pm

    So I haven’t yet submitted my introduction, but I’ve converted it into a PDF file, which means I’m close enough. It’s still not fabulous, but I need to set it aside for a few days. Everything else didn’t get done, although I have a few ideas about what I might do in the conclusion.

    I had a panicky moment last Sunday when I realized just how little time I have to finish the diss, and what all non-diss-related stuff has to get done in that same time. Technically, I have a little over a week, but I’m going to take another week: so diss must be finished and set off to the binders (not the official binding, but a spiral binding for the committee) by October 25. During that same time, I have classes to teach (classes in which I think it’s fun to assign 400 page novels), jobs to apply for, and a high school reunion to attend the weekend before the 25th. So I’m still not as organized as I’d like…there’s so much to do that I’m finding it difficult to focus.

    Next week’s goal: finish revisions for chapters 1 and 3.

    • Amstr permalink
      10 October, 2011 5:28 am

      Congrats on being so close to binding!

      Your comment made me think of how easy it is for me (and I suspect for many) to privilege teaching over other things because of the immediate feedback we get. If this is the case for you, you might aim for C-level work on your teaching the next couple weeks. A couple of mediocre classes in the middle of a term aren’t the end of the world, or even the deciding factor for student evals.

      • 10 October, 2011 5:43 am

        Yeah, I’ve been trying to do this as much as possible. In one class, that’s much easier. It’s a seminar, I’m pretty familiar with the material, and the point is that the students discuss. In the lecture course, however, it’s harder. Although I’m teaching in my main field, I actually know much less of the chronology than I should, so I’m teaching myself as I go along. I still aim for competent lectures as opposed to brilliant ones, but that’s still four to five hours of lecture prep, time that doesn’t include the reading. I’m also not the fastest reader. I’m finding that I’m pretty good about not aiming for perfection when it comes to lesson planning, but the material will not read itself.

        And then there’s grading…

  37. 9 October, 2011 11:55 pm

    Nice metaphor. When I applied to myself, I realized that, at some point, every race turns into a game of Calvinball (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_and_Hobbes#Calvinball) — it never is what I think it’s going to be, but if I can loosen up and just go with the arbitrariness of it, I’m usually fine. I only get in trouble when I *insist* that it must be the sort of race I planned, simply because it was my plan.

    I do that a lot.

    All right — after using an extra day and a half, I accomplished my goal: four new articles read and noted (though one was quick because it took me ten minutes to realize that it wasn’t directly relevant, write a three-sentence summary of the whole thing, and move on). I also wrote a little over 500 words of musings (apart from the notes), and I’ve managed to discern about four or five major themes, one of which will undoubtedly emerge as the theme of my paper (and I think I know which one, but no promises yet). And I’m finding this whole topic fascinating — so much that sometimes I consider letting it become its own book project. But I’m keeping a lid on that for now, because I’m 98% sure that it’s just the product of my tendency to get distracted by shiny objects.

    Next week’s goal is twofold: 1) dig through three legal sources and find the relevant law; 2) order up a couple of published primary sources that I saw in the footnotes. It’s a modest goal, but I’ve got a big week of student conferences. And if I end up getting more than that done, that’ll be great, too.

    • Susan permalink
      10 October, 2011 5:53 am

      Oh, I had never come across Calvinball. It’s awesome!

    • 10 October, 2011 3:15 pm

      OMG, my whole *life* is Calvinball! “It’s never the same! It’s always bizarre!” Thanks for the new shorthand, Notorious!

    • 13 October, 2011 11:13 pm

      “I do that a lot” um … yeah, you do! That’s one of the few things I can say I don’t sabotage myself with — or at least not too much. I’m only in bad shape if I can’t figure out how to shift things around, as above where ALL THE TIME is booked with things I can’t control.

  38. 10 October, 2011 12:09 am

    The good news: I met my goal of working one half-hour a day! That actually helps with the bad news–I have an aging parent who needs my help from this coming Friday through the following week. Internet? Maybe, maybe not. Will I keep on task? I actually think I will; it will help my sanity, which is questionable at the best of times.

    So I may well miss this coming week’s check-in, but if I do, I’ll catch up with the next one.

  39. 10 October, 2011 12:48 am

    Ok — I finally managed something tangible, and something that has made me panic, because there is a very good chance I need to read a lot of stupid formularies. And hit ILL really hard. But I have a rough outline for how to re-organize the paper, and have remembered that the theme of the volume is, I’m pretty sure, “problems and possibilities” — which means I can focus on the methodologies and why they are problematic. And that part is pretty straightforward, I think.

    So for next week, I need to look Herlihy and Wemple AGAIN, and set my two minimal data sets against each other (possibly just comparing existing graphs), and then show that, while W&H were right that lots can be found by looking at monastic records, they were not necessarily asking *all* the right questions, and they were also working with some assumptions that more recent scholarship has put into question. This is another problem, but a minor one.

    So:

    re-look at books
    compare patterns in data
    look at problems and comment on how gender contributes to them

    with luck, turn this into 500 words by Friday. (bonus goal)

  40. highlyeccentric permalink
    10 October, 2011 1:29 am

    Eep, almost missed check-in here!

    Last week I managed the process goal (some work every day), but didn’t really get much -done- with that time.

    So onwards! Again with the process goal, some work every day; and hopefully to add at least 1000 words to the draft (2 if lucky).

  41. 10 October, 2011 1:37 am

    My week went OBE, what with urgent conference deadlines that took much longer than I thought to complete and being out of town for 3 days at dissertation site (which I knew was coming, but didn’t make up for because of conference paper deadline). I worked on 2.5/7 days (the half is for Boatload Of New Information that I found and need to sort through, but wasn’t writing). Zero Chapter Draft incomplete; I was too ambitious.

    This week: Family coming Friday, so aiming for serious writingness on Zero Draft of Why Wheels 3/7 days. There will be no Zero Draft completed this week; my goal is to have it completed the week after this, before I present above paper at said conference and then spend the rest of the weekend dancing in the woods. Which will be a fabulous reward. (And no, I’m not kidding!)

    • 10 October, 2011 6:24 am

      A weekend of dancing in the woods sounds awesome. In fact, it sounds like an excellent writing group activity. Could we all come along?

      • 10 October, 2011 12:18 pm

        Of course! “Hands four from the top…”

  42. 10 October, 2011 2:11 am

    Whew. Got here just in time.

    I fulfilled part of my goal. I gathered my sources and I re-read and took notes on them. The notes were over two pages so I’m calling this week a success.

    For next week: Gather everything for part II and re-read take notes.

  43. sophylou permalink
    10 October, 2011 3:30 am

    Just made my goal. Did some new writing on the conclusion, in response to critique, which I think makes it stronger. Article is now cut down to below the minimum word count for submission. Goal for next week is to format according to submission guidelines (my least favorite part of writing, but it must be done). I am taking Friday as a research day (I have the option of taking a handful of these — a small handful — each semester) which will give me some extra time to work on this.

    And the goal after *that* is going to be, brainstorming on what my next scholarly project is going to be…

  44. Kim permalink
    10 October, 2011 3:42 am

    I was OBE this week so I didn’t finish my goals. I definitely feel that this is a steeple-chase and not the marathon. I trained to work steadily, foot pounding over foot on the pavement. Now I’m jumping obstacles (family wedding! senate meetings! student advising!) that seem to get ever higher.

    Goals accomplished: read chapter 1 and added information into the article. Read part of one book on medieval masculinity.

    Goals unfinished: finish first book and read second book on masculinity.

    These unfinished goals and being OBE by something stupid like being in a wedding just irritates me. So, I’m approaching my writing like my exercising, when I fall off that wagon, which I have also done. On Friday, I went to the gym and I exercised for 1/2 an hour; a third shorter than I had been 3 months ago, with at least 1/2 the weight. But I did it, and I feel better.

    So – Goals for Week 6: I am going to write, dammit. Screw more reading. I can do that later. I will write 500 words (I know that isn’t a lot, but I haven’t written a damned thing in weeks. Start small, work up). And I will write them in the rain, on a plane, with my grading and with my child. I will write them, yes I will! I will write them, you shall see!

    I have no answers, but I’m going to ABC and write. That’s it.

  45. Erika permalink
    10 October, 2011 4:27 am

    So sorry I missed last weekend! I was at a conference and this weekend I think I’ve missed the window as well! I’ve been working hard, networking, putting out a brand new idea to much acclaim, and making deadlines!

    Last goal: to assemble all the thoughts&jots. That’s done, and I’ve been making some drafting progress. I’m currently at 4,000 words in the SFD and that feels pretty good!

    This coming week’s goal: write 30 minutes / day at minimum, and even better at 250-350 words / day. This week is the first solid writing week, so I’m aiming low so I can build a goal I can actually reach.

    What an excellent prompt this week ABD. When I think I’m in for one sort of race, and the course is altogether unanticipated, I just try to grit my teeth and keep working a little bit every day. It’s how I finished my dissertation, and I think that this is what the 30 minutes / day first thing model is so good for. That way you can feel good that you’ve spent some time on the research / writing, and if it’s a matter of losing sleep, you’re only losing 30 minutes at least. When I was a musician a long time ago, my teacher used to tell me that on the worst days 10 -15 minutes was better than nothing. And I’ve grown to agree with her.

  46. opsimathphd permalink
    11 October, 2011 4:00 am

    Sorry to check in so late!! Worked a 70-something hour seven-day week last week at the “day” job, and forgot to check in last night because I got home after 1 a.m. Until Saturday, I had no internet access while at work, plus my laptop died (not a catastrophe, it’s not my primary computer, but it’s how I access my academic work when I’m in my office). Plus way more time- and energy-consuming craziness at work than I was expecting. That should die down after Wednesday, and I have revived the laptop (fingers crossed!), so this week should be better. Still focused on developing an argument–a.k.a. ‘what am I trying to say, again??’–and was at least able to have a couple of very useful conversations along those lines. So goals for this week:

    work on the argument
    by
    writing at least 500 words every day.

  47. Contingent Cassandra permalink
    30 October, 2011 9:05 pm

    Oh, boy, I could write quite a screed riffing on various parts of this week’s prompt, viewed from the perspective of someone whose job description doesn’t include research (or service) at all, but who works for an institution where research is highly valued (and better-compensated than teaching). But I think I’ll just say (perhaps not entirely inappropriately) “amen” . . . and that I eagerly await your further musings on the matters.

    As for this week. . .it was a complete bust. The ancillary project (preparing for a class next semester that is related to the article project — something of an anomaly for me, and one that requires some extra effort on my part to make it happen) moved forward; the article itself did not. And the ancillary work is going to continue for another several weeks at once (and unfortunately isn’t of the kind that can be gotten out of the way, as Notorious suggested last week; continued back and forth with other people, including but not limited to prospective students, is involved).

    But, I’m determined to get something done by the group deadline. So the new concrete goal is to finish Section 2, which, as I currently have the article sketched out, will be c. 2500 words, in the next four weeks. I have c. 1000 solid words written (plus a lot of sketchy notes and similar stuff, which will need to be turned into actual draft or eliminated). So that leaves 1500 to go (though, given what I know about my writing processes, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I ended up writing 3,000 or 4,000 and cutting, and I’m not sure whether the cutting should happen now, or later in the process).

    So I’m going to try a word-count goal (instead of a “write on x days” one) for week 9 (and probably 10, 11, and 12 as well): write at least 500 words.

    So, to summarize:

    New overall goal: finish 2500-word Section 2 of article draft
    Week 9 goal: write at least 500 words of Section 2

    • Contingent Cassandra permalink
      30 October, 2011 9:08 pm

      Oops. . .this goes in Week 9. i’m not sure how it ended up here. Sorry. I don’t see “delete” button, so I’ll just repost there.

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