Defining Goals (Summer Writing Group: Week 2)

In last week’s comments, a few people (including me) wondered about how others turn a task like “work on revision” into smaller, quantifiable tasks. And once you have smaller, quantifiable tasks, how do you keep from being overwhelmed by what seems to be a never ending to-do list? humming42 writes,

“What I find is that there are 37 things on my to do list when I get up in the morning. And at the end of the day, there’s the dreadful ritual of changing 20 “todays” to “tomorrows,” leaving me feeling like I got little done, and that the next day will just be overwhelming. I removed all the dates [deadlines in a task list program], and now feel unmoored in a way that leaves me anxious about how to prioritize and how to avoid letting things go.”

So what advice do you have? What works for you?

I encourage you to comment on others’ comments as well, if you get a chance.

A reminder of the check-in format:

  1. Goal: The past week’s goals
  2. Accomplished: What you accomplished during the week
  3. Analysis: An analysis of what worked/what didn’t
  4. Next Goal: The next week’s goals
  5. Next Check In (optional): Your next check in date, if you’re planning to miss any number of weeks

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: Draft of Ch. 3 to writing partner (in whatever state it’s in; hopefully complete, if poor); Intro w/ changes to secondary advisor; email third committee member (to let her know I’ll be finishing soon)
Aria
[something ??]:  read the rest of the secondary source that I’m somewhat using to structure my paper, and some other sources that have come in through Interlibrary Loan
Becky
[journal article]: ??
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: accomplish 2 ancillary tasks; get reacquainted with J-paper
Daisy
[finish thesis]:  Try for readable again.
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: write syllabus for summer class; write 1000 words each on the MMP and its companion-piece (they are sufficiently closely related that I have decided to try to work on them at the same time). 2000 words total this week, or some reasonable equivalent in editing if I realize that’s where I am with the MMP, which I haven’t looked at in awhile.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: (check-in forthcoming)
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: EOCP results done, outline based on results, and article review with notes / draft writing.
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ??
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: get the chapter cleaned up by Wednesday, and I’d like to write an abstract of Chapter 3, too, and send both off to the supervisor by Wednesday afternoon.
humming42
[complete book MS]:  I will start writing and make sure the organization is working. Writing every day will be my goal.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: write up 500 words from the notes from the meeting and to complete the prep work for the NextBigPaper (one easy make-some-figures task, one complicated work out how to do it and do it task).
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Get those 2 sections of materials and methods done this week. Revise an outline for a paper (or papers) after a conference call with a collaborator.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: WYJA Week 2
kiwimedievalist
[article]: ?
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: One hour in the morning TWTHF
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: WYJA  Week 5, 6, and 7
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Reviewing the Related Literature— evaluating current citations, identifying and reading the related literature, evaluating the related literature, and writing or revising related literature review
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]: ??
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: Finish reading the second book. Type up the list of revisions to do and begin getting the articles together from the updated literature review.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]:  Commit backstory idea to paper (or computer) so I don’t forget it. Read 2 chapters of book 1 (already started) for research.
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: To review dissertation material that I’m using as the foundation for the article and make a point form outline; work on organization website; deal with service commitment – plan for analysis program.
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: ?
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: Need to deal with the writing in preparation for the next round of meetings, start the reading for my new paper idea, and keep working on the revisions for chapters 4&5, which I expect I will be working on simultaneously for the next few weeks.
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer]: Continue on analysis for LM paper and write at least one comparison memo. Also do week 1 in WYJA
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]:  Unpack. Finish book review to clear the way for concentrating solely on the dissertation. Read intro of WYJA

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Summer Love (Summer Writing Group: Week 1)

Sorry for the delay in posting. I attempted to schedule it, and I forgot to hit “schedule.” Doh.

I was struck by Ruthie’s comment that in attending a recent conference that made her remember why she loves her discipline. As a dissertation writer, I’m often mired in the muck of trying to comprehend multiple debates in my field without reading sixteen books for each one, or proofreading footnotes for proper citation format. Sometimes there’s just not a whole lot of love there. It got me thinking about what I do love about my discipline, and about writing in general. (I’ll put my answer in my comment.) So what do you love about your discipline? Or what do you love about writing?

(NB: I don’t mean to suggest that you have to love your discipline or your writing to be a successful scholar and writer. I’m guessing that most of us love something about what we do.)

Please remember to check in with the following structure:

  1. Goal: The past week’s goals
  2. Accomplished: What you accomplished during the week
  3. Analysis: An analysis of what worked/what didn’t
  4. Next Goal: The next week’s goals
  5. Next Check In (optional): Your next check in date, if you’re planning to miss any number of weeks

You can also modify your overall summer goal at any time, just add a note in your comment (you might highlight it for me with a bold modified summer goal or somesuch).

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 2000 words on Ch. 3; notes on those pesky articles
Aria (formerly, librarianISP)
[something ??]: polish up proposal, notes on primary or secondary sources
Becky
[journal article]: ?
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]]: 2 ancillary tasks related to P art-in-rev; reply to ed. changes; grades in; summer course up.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: Data ch. to “readable”–fix figures, page-sized summary figure
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: something work-related every day
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: outline the article; list what is left of the diss and fit it into a realistic schedule; think; rinse; repeat.
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: plan summer; rough drafts of Intro and Discussion of EOCP (<1000 words each)
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ?
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: clean up current chapter draft and add 5 pages
humming42
[complete book MS]: organize and oultine intro chapter
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: ?
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: write up 2 sections of M&M
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: WYJA Week 1
kiwimedievalist
[article]: planning
luolin88
[tentative: finish and submit journal article]: ?
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: WYJA weeks 2 and 3
NWGirl
[revise paper for publication]: rest; identify what needs to be done; make summer plan
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]: ?
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ?
rented life
[TBD]: recover, read, plan.
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: ?
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: 30 min/day, 6 days; pian structure, confirm chapter choice, list tasks; choose material to take with
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: work on latest revisions of Ch. 5
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer]: write 2 more analysis memos for LM.
Trapped in Canadia
[finish 1st draft of diss]: plan move and summer writing; meet with supervisor

Starting Summer (Writing Group 2012): Week Zero

Welcome to Week Zero!

As you’re planning for summer writing, think really hard about what you wish you could accomplish this summer, and what you can really accomplish this summer. There’s little sense in ending the summer depressed because you didn’t accomplish an impossible goal. Be generous with yourself. Have high, but reasonable expectations. Some of us might have things we have to accomplish this summer, so think creatively about how you can get those things done. Can you map out your plan with help from Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks or another guide? Is it better for you to have two projects going at once, or to complete one and then move on to the other? What will you do if you feel yourself falling behind the progress you need to make?

As with previous versions of this group, the goal here is not to accomplish everything we wish we could, but to set achievable weekly goals which lead to solid, regular progress on our projects. (Possible group motto: Less guilt, more writing.) We’ll have a week in the middle of summer to reassess what we’ve done so far and to recalibrate larger goals.

Consider the shape of your summer. How will non-writing events change your available writing time and energy over the next 15 weeks? For instance, I’ve got a crazy May because of extra kid activities near the end of school, and I’ll have a crazy September with my youngest starting kindergarten. I’ve also got brief vacations at either end of the summer. So my summer might be shaped like a stretched out bell curve–a ramp up in May and early June, solid work in June and July, with a tapering near the end of August. I’d expect to have smaller goals in the beginning and end of summer, and more demanding ones in the middle. What about you?

Check in this week: be sure to report your goal for the summer if you haven’t already, and state your goal for the week. If you’re still in recovery mode after the end of the semester, make it a planning week, or just take a much-needed break and do something fun. Just comment that you’ll post your first goal next week.

Starting May 18, check in with the following:

  1. Goal: The past week’s goals
  2. Accomplished: What you accomplished during the week
  3. Analysis: An analysis of what worked/what didn’t
  4. Next Goal: The next week’s goals
  5. Next Check In (optional): Your next check in date, if you’re planning to miss any number of weeks

Feel free to spread the word. I’ll continue to add people to the group until June 1. If you’d like to be added, just leave a comment below.

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]
Becky
[journal article]
Contingent Cassandra
[TBD]
Cyn
[complete book MS]
Daisy
[finish thesis]
DEH
[TBD]
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]
humming42
[complete book MS]
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]
kiwimedievalist
[article]
librarianISP
[something ??]
luolin88
[tentative: finish and submit journal article]
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]
NWGirl
[TBD]
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]
rented life
[TBD]
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]
Ruthie
[2 chapters/book proposal]
Sapience
[complete diss/book proposal]
Trapped in Canadia
[finish 1st draft of diss]