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
[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.
[finish thesis]: Data ch. to “readable”–fix figures, page-sized summary figure
[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.
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: plan summer; rough drafts of Intro and Discussion of EOCP (<1000 words each)
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ?
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: clean up current chapter draft and add 5 pages
[complete book MS]: organize and oultine intro chapter
[chip away at writing backlog]: ?
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: write up 2 sections of M&M
[rough draft of journal article]: WYJA Week 1
[article]: planning
[tentative: finish and submit journal article]: ?
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: WYJA weeks 2 and 3
[revise paper for publication]: rest; identify what needs to be done; make summer plan
[2 book projects; various MS]: ?
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ?
rented life
[TBD]: recover, read, plan.
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: ?
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: 30 min/day, 6 days; pian structure, confirm chapter choice, list tasks; choose material to take with
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: work on latest revisions of Ch. 5
[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


51 thoughts on “Summer Love (Summer Writing Group: Week 1)

  1. Wow, am I first? Thanks again for hosting us over the summer, when we”ll all be wandering in and out of the meeting room, coming to group in a rush, leaving our cases at the front of the room where everyone coming in will trip over them because we’re away on our travels as soon as we’re done, or coming in all suntanned and full of stories to annoy the virtuous dissertator trapped in their office…

    What do I love about academic writing? Two things come to mind.
    1) First drafts of papers. After the scrabbling around and researching and data processing and faffing around getting graphs and staring into space and sighing and freewriting fragments that wander off sideways and filling pages and pages of the ‘zero draft’ (dumping ground, notes on the things I’ve read or on the data analysis process, a document that doesn’t count) there comes a time to set all of that to one side and start to actually write. I put in the usual STEM headings (or those of the journal if I’ve already got a target), and I begin to write somewhere in the middle of the paper (methods is pretty easy!) and I move backwards and forwards and I end up after anywhere between a few hours and a few days with about 5000 words scattered with (add ref) and (doesn’t Anne’s paper speak to this?) type things in brackets, but with a shape, and an argument, and some yellow-highlighted gaps where I need to make a different figure, but it’s essentially created. Oh, if only I could STOP THERE and not go through another 10-11 drafts getting the thing submittable!
    2) The point where I sit down with a fountain pen and a blank piece of paper and write about something I’m stuck on until I understand it. Has to be a fountain pen for the flow, paper needs to be blank because the SchoolTeacherInMyHead gets yelly if I escape the lines on lined paper and I always do because I draw things when I can’t find words and I connect bits up with arrows and add asides (and I’m bad at writing neatly anyway). It can take weeks for me to get to that point, but as soon as I do, I love it. Strange how I forget that time and time again.

    goal for this week: I forgot to come here and set one.

    accomplished: Writing-wise, I have now completed maybe half of the prep work for the NextBigPaper, and talked a lot about and written about two pages of notes for OddsAndEndsPaper (which involves four co-authors – we all have data about a rather overlooked phenomenon which on its own is only publishable in very minor places, but we think if we pool it and do a sort of meta-analysis (although they’re usually based on published data anyway) then we can at least write a paper about the gaps in our knowledge on this topic… four opinionated co-authors though, ouch!)

    analysis: My main incentive was the pile of grading I was ignoring, and a visit from the co-authors of OddsAndEndsPaper. Neither healthy (how many biscuits and salt-and-pepper cashew nuts can four scientists eat whilst thrashing out ideas? All the ones in the host’s office, it turns out, and then someone has to make a run to the campus shop for more and several double espressos too…) nor sustainable, but this week it got work done.

    next goal: since the pile of grading has NOT gone away, that needs to take priority, along with preparing for my summer teaching, but writing-wise I aim to 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).

    • I like your fountain pen/blank paper process. I think I need to try it with a sticky problem in my chapter.

      Congrats on getting work done, and good luck with the grading.

  2. I went to a conference last week that confirmed my love of my discipline too. What I love, right now at least, is the texts I get to play with and the people I get to talk with about them (talk happening both in person and in writing).

    goal for last week: start revisions of chapter 5

    accomplished: started revisions of chapter 5, and did some of the revisions on chapter 4.

    Analysis: there’s nothing like getting massive comments back from an advisor to kick your butt into action. I had a great conversation with one of my advisors about chapter 4, which was what I was working on for a good chunk of the last writing group over at DEH’s blog. So, I’m back to working on that too, but I did get work on both done, despite being in meetings 6 hours a day Monday through Wednesday.

    Next goal: 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.

    • How do you handle a task like “keep working on the revisions”? Do you make a list of finite tasks? Do you have page count goals (e.g., revisions to 2 pages of draft)? I haven’t quite figured out what my strategy should be yet, but I know I need something more clearly defined in order to make progress.

      • This tends to be my problem too – weeks and weeks of “slog through stuff that must be done before writing” and the weeks of “write” with no clear in between goals other than “get enough done I don’t end up way behind” which isn’t very specific, so I’d love to know how people make their goals more specific…

      • For this level of revision, my tasks are largely intellectual or rhetorical rather than page counts. They’re also mostly directed by my advisors’ comments–they tend to ask for specific things, and I do those things until I make them work. For example, my advisor just asked me to work on revising my final chapter to situate the work in the larger context of project a little more. He gave me a few ideas for specific strategies, but they’re not things that I can quantify in terms of either page counts or time spent working. It’s just either done or not done. *shrug*

      • I’m struggling with to do list issues this week…I use Wunderlist, and set due dates for everything. 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, and now feel unmoored in a way that leaves me anxious about how to prioritize and how to avoid letting things go. I’m looking for some guidance too!

  3. Goal: rest; identify what needs to be done; make summer plan

    I am happy to say I did indeed accomplish last week’s goal, including getting some much needed rest.

    I finished my list of summer projects — writing, teaching, service, and personal. And I’ve managed to check a couple of the smaller ones off my list.

    In terms of revising the paper, I accomplished this week’s goal. I re-typed the paper. (I could not find the original Word file.) The process of re-typing actually proved quite helpful because I could highlight places that needed revision as I went along. Didn’t deal with them, but just highlighted them so I could come back to them. I have a list of recent scholarship that I need to incorporate into the discussion. And I also made a list of questions, thoughts that came up as I was typing up the old draft, so I have a plan for the paper.

    I think the paper will not require as much revision as I had originally thought so my hope is to have this paper ready to submit within four weeks. Then I can use the remaining time in the group to work on paper #2, which is a conference paper that I need to revise and submit as well. I received great feedback on that paper at the conference. I would love to end the summer with two papers out for review.

    For me, I accomplished more by working first thing in the morning. As soon as my husband left for the morning, I sat down to work. I typically worked for 2 to 3 hours in the morning with an occasional break. Then I made notes of where I needed to pick up the next morning and put the project away for the day. Only one day did I return to the project later in the day.

    This schedule seemed to work really well and is one I’ll try to stick to as much as possible this summer. I am much more focused if the writing is accomplished BEFORE I leave the house, even to walk the dog. Trying to write later in the day is difficult. Also, early afternoon has never been a productive time for me. I want a nap so saving that time for doing laundry, walking the dog, etc. is a better use of time in so many ways. And my husband usually gets home around 2 to 3 in the afternoon, which means that the household is a lot more active at that time — dog usually gets very, very excited.

    Next Goal: Reviewing the Related Literature

    (This is directly from Belcher’s WYJA, chapter 5) — evaluating current citations, identifying and reading the related literature, evaluating the related literature, and writing or revising related literature review

    I’ve already started on this so I should be able to finish this section easily this week. Then I can work on the structure and the editing.

    amstr, thanks so much for hosting this space this summer. I’ve been thinking about your question, what do I love about my discipline, what do I love about writing? I came to my discipline because of a love of writing. As an undergrad I majored in creative writing and fully expected to continue in an MFA program. Then I realized that the prospects of getting into such a program were extremely low in such a competitive field, and even if I did get into a program my chances of finding steady, paid employment were slim. So I pursued graduate work in history. Ha, of course, the employment prospects for a PhD in history (at least in the academic, t-t sense) aren’t any better than they are for MFAs. But I did land a t-t position in an interdisciplinary department and I do have the opportunity (and the requirement, too) to pursue research and writing projects. Our department does not offer summer courses, so I can count on having some time to pursue my own projects. Planning to make to make the most of it, too.

    • I’m happy to host! It sounds like your change in disciplines worked out rather well. I’m glad you get summers to do your favorite part of the job without the interruptions of teaching.

  4. Goal: WYJA Week 1

    Accomplished: I did work through Week 1 and found it to be helpful. I started on Week 2 because my in-laws are in town through Tuesday so I tried to get a little bit of a head start.

    Analysis: Week 1 doesn’t require much writing at all, so I haven’t actually had to sit down with my dissertation and start looking at it yet. But I already know I’m a morning person, my 3 year old tends to wake me up around 6am lately, and my 1 year old stays in bed until about 8am. So I planted my 3 year old infront of PBS Kids with an easy breakfast and then I had some time to work before my 1 year old woke up. That seemed to work pretty well. If I can remain disciplined enough to work first thing in the morning then I think I’ll have enough time during the week to accomplish what I need to. Naptime is a crapshoot, so I can’t count on that to work, and I’m exhausted by 8pm, so morning is definitely it. I found I enjoyed thinking again about research and writing after not having done so for three years. I also read a couple articles online about how to turn a dissertation into an article, and those were helpful.

    Next Goal: WYJA Week 2. I know I’m going to try to write an article based on my dissertation, but I’m not sure what aspect of it yet. I have a few ideas floating around in my head but I don’t know which yet would be the best to focus on. I hope this week to have that cleared up. I think I can finish Week 2 this week but since I’m basically in charge of the kids and of in-law entertainment by myself (my husband is a Ph.D. student and in the middle of a busy quarter), I don’t know how much time I’ll actually have to work.

    What do I like about my discipline? I initially decided to go into language education because I knew I liked teaching (had taught environmental science to inner-city middle schoolers one summer in Houston) and I thought linguistics were the most interesting classes I took as an undergrad. I sort of jumped into my master’s program blindly (mixing those two ideas, I decided to study Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) without having actually doing anything in that field. I continued on with the Ph.D. because it ended up being a good match.

  5. My gratitude to amstr too. I’m grateful for community. I remember one of my committee members telling me to select a dissertation topic that I really love because I will end up hating it. I’m very grateful to say I had only one day of hate: the process was grueling, the work was frustrating, but the topic itself I didn’t grow tired of. The current book manuscript project uses parts of the dissertation as its foundation, and four years later, I’m still enamored of the topic. So that’s a thing I love about my discipline and about academic writing—I get to write about things I find intriguing, and try to figure them out along the way.

    Goal: organizing and outlining the introductory chapter.

    Accomplished: I did quite a bit of work toward that end.

    Analysis: I could spend the next several weeks organizing and outlining if I let myself, but it’s time to start writing. I don’t know why I feel trepidation about this, but I do.

    Next Goal: My starting plan was to have this chapter finished by June 1. I’m going to a conference the last weekend in May, then start teaching two summer classes when I get back June 4. For this week, then, I will start writing and make sure the organization is working. Writing every day will be my goal.

    • I’m glad to hear that love for a topic can continue! It sounds like you’ve got a busy few weeks ahead, and that writing every day is a good way to keep moving forward without feeling the pressure of word count goals.

  6. It took me a while (like almost a decade) after finishing the diss. to get back to really loving research and writing. And it probably helps that I’m currently doing it voluntarily, without any external deadlines (other than those that I impose by submitting stuff to journals and conferences). It also really helps when I can identify a manageable project; it’s when projects sprawl and I can’t figure out the boundaries or how to fit them into multiple scholarly conversations (all problems I had with the diss.) that I get anxious and both pleasure and productivity grind to a halt. I’m still working on figuring out how to make use of that insight. I especially love breaking new ground by working on texts few if any others have examined, but that still brings difficulties, especially getting people interested, and figuring out how to connect to ongoing scholarly conversations (and often, of course, one accomplishes the former in part by doing the latter).

    Goal(s) for this week: 2 ancillary tasks related to P art-in-rev; reply to ed. changes; grades in; summer course up.

    Accomplished: replied to editorial changes (actually, as mentioned before, I got that done last Saturday) and received acknowledgment from editor; got grades in (some of them c. 8 hours late, but who’s counting); got a start on summer course. I still need to get the rest of the summer course up in the next 36 hours or so (doable, but I’ll be busy), and I haven’t even touched the ancillary tasks.

    Analysis: grading always takes longer than I think it will. I need to plan for that (and keep up with the little stuff that piles up over the course of the semester better, so there isn’t so much of it at the end). And a one-weekend turnaround from grades in to new term is brutal any way you look at it. Add in the need to deal with the editorial changes, and I’m pretty proud of myself for surviving the last 2 weeks, all the more so because there was a bit of minor family drama as well.

    Goal(s) for next week: accomplish 2 ancillary tasks (by Friday; see below); otherwise get myself ready to focus on the J project beginning at the end of this week or the beginning of next (I haven’t quite figured out where the weeks begin and end; okay, for the purpose of this, let’s say they do, indeed, run through Sat.-Fri., though I may often be checking in on Sat. rather than Fri.). It’s also possible that I will, when I finally take a look at my “to-do” list after getting the summer class up, that all the things on it (plus stuff that keeps popping up in my inbox) mean that I’ll have difficulty getting even to the ancillary tasks this week. Nevertheless, I’m really going to try. And, come what will (and even if I have to loop back to the ancillary projects), next Saturday morning (5/26) will be devoted to getting myself re-acquainted with the J project.

  7. Goal: Week 2 and 3 of WYJA

    Accomplished: I did the writing assignment of the sections, but I am not satisfied with what I constructed. It needs to be revised, I think.

    Analysis: I cannot help feeling I need more research and more literature review.

    Next goal: Week 5, 6, and 7

    What I love about my discipline is the way of reconstructing people’s past society from the only evidence left by the past. As for writing, though how I feel it is difficult, and always I am struggling about, I love to spin my vague thought into a visible thread.

    • Week 5 should help clarify your feeling about lit review and research. And even though you’re dissatisfied with what you worked on this week, you’ve got something to work with.

      And I love your spinning metaphor.

  8. Goal: finish up proposal and get started on sources
    Accomplished: I really am more and more content with my proposal as currently written, so while I’m waiting to submit, “just in case” I think of something else, it is probably finished. Work beyond this didn’t happen because of a doozy of a migraine taking up most of the week,
    Goal for next week – 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…

  9. I really love my topic, especially the philosophical foundations that lately have pervaded my inquiry. But this is also challenging because I’ve always been ignorant about these foundations, so even acquiring basic knowledge is difficult, let along sufficient knowledge for the dissertation. I’m sure I’m about to make a big fool of myself when I visit my supervisor, but I will try to just be comfortable with my humility. I also realize that I just love the British c18. Until a few years ago, I thought the c18 was boring! Imagine!

    As for writing, I think I like second drafts best. I don’t have the blank page staring back at me, but I also don’t have to worry about polish and perfection. Substantial, developmental revision is the place for me (except for at times like this when I need to do it REALLY FAST!).

    1. Last week’s goal: clean up current chapter draft and add 5 pages

    2. I didn’t do it.

    3. It was finals week, so I was focused on that. I haven’t quite finished my grading yet, but I’m going to have to set the grading aside for a couple of days (which is painful–I just want to be done!) so that I can get dissertation writing ready to send off. I arrive in the UK a week from today, and I need to give my supervisor time to read what I send her. So I should send it by Wednesday (at the latest). Tomorrow is a busy day at the kids’ school and with the kids, so it might be a wash. But I’ll have some time on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    4. This week I must 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.

    5. I plan to check in from London next Sunday.

      • Thanks for the sympathy, Amstr. The new one did not come Tuesday after all, sigh. Week One’s update slid into Week Two’s, but I will day something about my discipline here.

        A college professor of mine called medieval literature “la nuit étoilée,” which I find evocative. I like uncovering texts that have been ignored, or perhaps worse, denigrated, in the past century or two. I find it a bit like archaeology, which had an allure for me when I was an undergraduate.

  10. Goal: do something work-related every day.
    Accomplished: something work-related T-F and Sun: I finished a chunk of translation that I will need for teaching this summer, revised an outline for the MMP’s companion-piece, and did a tiny bit more writing for that article-in-progress.
    Analysis: It helped to leave the paper notepad, pen, and book from which I was translating lying around the living room: easy to pick up and do a few lines whenever it was convenient. It did not help not to have an internet connection at home (so glad that has changed now) or to try to work on an old computer in my study, since Glendower likes to chew on electric cords. Since the new laptop has a good battery, I may be able to work in my study without worrying that the cat will electrocute himself or destroy all my work.
    Next Goal: 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.

    • Isn’t it a bit horrifying how drastically a change in internet/computer access affects our lives? It looks like you got enough accomplished this week to set you up well for next week. I hope the cat troubles settle down for you (glad to hear Tiny Cat is getting perkier).

  11. Goal: Week 2 and 3 of WYJA. Writing at least 15 minutes every day.
    Accomplished: Mostly done, though I am not satisfied what I wrote.
    Analysis: Week 2 and 3 required me to construct my abstract and argument and I anyway wrote something, but I know it needs full revision again (maybe again and again). While it was tough for me to recognize how I would more work on my project, though, what I liked this week was that I wrote something every day.
    Next goal: Week 5,6, and 7. Writing at least 15 minutes every day.

    I typed this in the 10 minutes before my class. I post much longer comment last night, but it disappeared somehow. What happened? What I love about writing is, though difficult, I like the process of spinning my vague thought into a visible thread.

    • Ohhhh I am sorry, but I found my first post has been clealy up. I thought it disappeared, so I re-sent my post again. Please just ignore this…

      • Sorry about the non-posted comment–I approved it earlier today. I have the comments set to immediately post people who have been approved for a previous comment (mostly this is to preserve anonymity if someone accidentally posts under their real name). For some reason, WordPress thought you were new to commenting on Writing Account. It shouldn’t happen again.

  12. What do I love about my discipline?
    Seeing cells move under a microscope and being reminded that I study a living thing. In general, I’m fascinated by how things work and in particular, by how there is great order and precision within even the tiniest of bacterial cells.
    What do I love about writing? maybe I’ll try answering that at the end of the summer.

    Goal from last week: write 2 sections of M&M

    Accomplished: Nada. I thought I’d set the bar sufficiently low with the busy week I knew I was going to have, but I just didn’t manage to write this week. I’m also training a rotation student in the lab, which is loads of fun (I love teaching!) but is taking more time than anticipated.

    Analysis: During busy experimental times, I need to be realistic about how much writing will get done, particularly when it’s the end of the year and the social calendar is full (going away parties, graduation parties, etc.) I would probably also be well-served by allotting time to write earlier in the week (and on a day that my rotation student isn’t in).

    Goal for next week: 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.

  13. What do I love about my discipline/writing? Putting the pieces of a puzzle together and creating an argument that tells a good story!

    Goal from last Week: My goal was to read some chapters on the topic for my manuscript to revise and have my graduate student up date the lit review.

    Accomplished: I made it through one book and he finished the first stage of the update.

    Analysis: Having been diagnosed with a chronic illness and been sick means slowing down, but means setting better priorities. Writing is a priority, and I’m enjoying spending time on my favourite aspects of my job.

    Goal for next week: Finish reading the second book. Type up the list of revisions to do and begin getting the articles together from the updated literature review.

    • I’m glad you’re able to make writing a priority. I like the puzzle aspect too (except when the pieces don’t seem to fit any way I look at it). Your goals seem incredibly clear and accomplishable.

  14. Goal: Data paper in readable form, fix figures, summary figure

    Accomplished: Paper not even close to readable… See analysis part. But I did fix a bunch of figures, and I’m pretty close to having a summary figure I can live with. Also made a fantastic conference presentation for next week (it is done a whole week early, pat-self-on-head-for-good-planning).

    Analysis: I seriously underestimated how much time it would take to fix stupid result reporting formats (mix of tables, paragraphs, figures) and everything I changed had a cascade of changes following it, so it took much more time than I planned. I think I’m getting worse at estimating time requirements as things get more complex. Any advice? (Other than estimate and multiply by some random exponent 🙂
    The really frustrating part is that because it is a rewrite of a split paper I have to work on both at the same time to make sure they are perfectly consistent, and I find myself repeating arguments and work between the two, especially considering that the two eventual papers are for completely different audiences, and not everyone will read both, so there has to be enough overlap to make sense, but not so much that they repeat themselves.

    Next Goal: Try for readable again. This is a short week, I only have two days before going to a conference and short course, so I’ll do what I can on the readable front.

    Next Check In: Probably next week, the one after that may be a skip – going on field trip in the wilds and I’m not sure there will be interwebz.

    What do I love about my field? Most of it 🙂 The analysis/data collection/initial exploration part is the most fun. I also love the community I work with, and the reading/research aspect of it. I’m definitely a details person, love the fiddly small things (nanograms are a nice unit to work in!) and I like the idea of knowing everything possible about a small part of the world. The arm-waving part of “this is vital to the rest of the universe because…” not so much.

    And things to love about academic writing? Right now… NOTHING… I know it is just a phase of thesis development, it will pass. Usually I love the first draft stage, and the research part, collecting notes, reading references, taking bits of information and making a coherent whole out of it. I hate making figures (really hate it). NOT a visual person – I would rather read/write 50 pages of text 🙂 So there, I guess I do love writing 🙂

    • I’ll add some outside congratulations on getting your presentation done ahead of time. And it sounds like you buckled down to get the hard parts done this week.

    • Oh, I can sympathise on the ‘not a visual person’ part – I hate making figures too. One of the great things about my collaborator on the DataCrunchingPaper is that they have access to an excellent graphics support person at their university, who can help with turning scribbles into something attractive. Ours retired a couple of years ago and hasn’t been replaced, a big loss!

      • Graphics support people at my U are a lot like unicorns – I’ve heard legends of them running around in the misty past, but I’m not holding my breath for seeing one in person! Would be nice though…

  15. I’m sorry, I never specified my overall goal. Since I haven’t finished the article I was working on during Dame Eleanor’s group…

    Summer goal: Finish revising, submit the article I’ve been working on; start next article

    Goal: No set goal; tried for 1 hour MWF
    1/2 hour Mon; 0 Wed. 40 minutes Friday

    Procrastination and a lot of work on my service tasks. Now that classes are over and grades are in, I have time for writing AND finishing up the service project, but instead this week I have been working on the service stuff and procrastinating instead.

    On the other hand, in the past I bemoaned the procrastination and berated myself and kept on being bad, even when I committed to checking in to a writing group. Nowadays, the prospect of the check-in does help me focus and get down to work by the end of the week, if not before.

    Next Goal: One hour in the morning TWTHF

    Next Check In (optional): next week (5/25)

    • I’m glad to hear the group is helping you to focus. I’ve had a week of procrastination, and it’s very hard to let go of the guilt from it.

      Congratulations on finishing up the term and getting grades in.

  16. I love certain words (“incorporate” is one of my favorites at the moment, from Tamora’s speech in _Titus Andronicus_ “I am incorporate in Rome”), and I love how ideas from different texts fit together. I’m a compare/contrast writer–always thinking about how texts relate to each other–and one of my favorite games in my MA program was naming two (seemingly) vastly different authors and figuring out what they had in common (Fitzgerald and Chaucer–go).

    I love drafting, not zero drafts, but when the ideas have all come together and I know the thread of the argument and how all the pieces fit together and I can write it down (and it feels as breathless as this sentence). I loved when the overall organization for my dissertation clicked into place and I was able to see it as a whole thing instead of a bunch of disparate pieces that I found interesting.

    Goal: 2000 words on Ch. 3; notes on those pesky articles

    Accomplished: notes on articles. Re-read Ch. 3 with advisor comments and marked for revision.

    Analysis: I realized on Wednesday that I had procrastinated on the chapter for so long that I wasn’t even sure of the thread of my argument anymore. So I re-read, and now I’m feeling like I should start the revisions, even though I only have about 3000 words left to draft. I’m pretty sure the revisions wouldn’t make much difference in how the rest of the chapter proceeds.

    I also was vastly optimistic about how much energy I would have for working this week. Even though I had the same number of work hours available, I was worn out from all the extra things (kids’ swim team evaluations; prep for a baby shower; prep for leading a moms group; three days of the first grader crying about an upcoming math facts test; etc.). Next week is going to be full as well (all fun things), but I need to get the draft moving to keep on pace for the summer. I also got comments back from my advisor on my introduction, and need to turn that around to go out to my secondary advisor. So.

    Goals for the new week: 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)

  17. I’m afraid last week was not a success, but I look forward to reading others’ comments for inspiration. First– sometimes I do love writing, when it is going well– the sense that I am creating a piece of art, that communicates clearly but also with subtle reasoning; with well-constructed paragraphs and sections that make the act of reading it enjoyable. And what I SHOULD love about writing is the fact that I am fulfilling the promise of research: that it should be told to others, and that I can enter a discussion about the things that interest me (my research topics). But sometimes I can’t make progress; my responsibility to communicate is unfortunately a dormant motivation, and the sense of having created a work of art only comes after the very painful process of writing ugly things (i.e. imperfect drafts).

    Goal: Review & plan summer; write intro & discussion drafts of EOCP

    Accomplished: Reviewed summer, but was overwhelmed by my failure to progress on EOCP and so simply couldn’t/didn’t plan (“If I can’t even get this short paper done, how will I move on to others?”); worked for a day on intro of EOCP but made no written progress, just reviewed past drafts and made false starts in a number of directions.

    Analysis: Planning: I think I’m just not good at long-term planning. I have trouble estimating how much time things will take, and have always written efficiently only when pressed by immediate deadlines; a very bad habit that I haven’t yet broken. What I will try to do is put up the calendar on my bulletin board, so that I’m more aware of passing time, and perhaps put in some random deadlines instead of trying to decide what is reasonable.

    As for the introduction, I was stymied by a) some uncertainty about which data results I should emphasize; and b) a long hiatus from the literature, meaning that I couldn’t decide how to situate my findings in terms of previous literature, and also couldn’t write in the “proper” academic style (a citation or two after every other sentence). What I think i can do is a) Go back and do my results section properly so that I am more clear on what I want to hint at in my introduction; b) outline the introduction; c) quickly review the articles I stored from the last time I worked on EOCP; and d) force myself to write in the outline, even if not in the proper citation-heavy style, so that I can go back later and edit it down until it looks proper.

    Next Goal: EOCP results done, outline based on results, and article review with notes / draft writing.

    • It sounds like you have a great plan to move forward after a discouraging week. Often the way the intro should go isn’t clear until after you’ve settled most of the rest of the paper. Good for you for having a solid plan for this week.

  18. Last week’s goal: Write 2 memos for the LM paper.

    Accomplished: Wrote 3 memos for LM paper, which finished off the first level of memo-writing.

    Analysis: My son is home from college and getting ready to leave on a summer-long adventure. Having him here has been wonderful but has completely disrupted my work schedule. While I managed to get a fair amount of writing/analysis done, I completely neglected all the other work I need to be doing. I’m anticipating more of the same for next week and then hoping I can get back into my regular schedule once he’s gone for the summer. I just got WYJA delivered and read the intro. I think following it can help keep me on task for the summer.

    Goal for next week: Continue on analysis for LM paper and write at least one comparison memo. Also do week 1 in WYJA

    What I love: I love that my discipline is so interdisciplinary. I don’t like being boxed into a corner in how I think or what I think about. The field I was trained in (developmental psychology) is different than the field I’ve always worked in (public health) but they work together well. Lately what I am loving about writing in my discipline is exploring different analytic and writing styles. I am experimenting with narrative in a way I never dreamed existed when I first started a research career. I also really enjoy writing with tenure and not feeling as much pressure to publish in certain arenas but rather to study, write, and publish what and where I deem important.

  19. Goal: re-plan my summer writing and meet with supervisor (hoping he approves the plan!); move back to the States

    Accomplished: Done! I’m staring at the moving truck right now, dreading the unpacking, especially since I managed to hurt my shoulder and now have limited mobility in my left arm. Awesome timing.

    Analysis: Meeting with my supervisor was hugely beneficial. Even my revised summer plan was overly optimistic (as usual) and he talked me down from it. I was hoping to get work done while unpacking, but, given that I find it hard to stick to my writing under the best circumstances, he convinced me that that was probably a tad optimistic. So, I incorporated some break/prep time over the unpacking process, which also helps, since I’m still waiting for my copy of WYJA to be delivered.

    Next Goal: Unpack. Finish book review to clear the way for concentrating solely on the dissertation. Read intro of WYJA. (It makes me nervous that this isn’t a lot to do, but, as my supervisor and the Thesis Whisperer have both said, it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver, rather than the other way around. This has now become my mantra for the summer!)

    **revised summer goal: Write two dissertation chapters, one of which will also be turned into a chapter in an edited volume

  20. Last Week’s Goal & Accomplishments: Last week flew by in a whirlwind of house renos (painting mostly) to get my house ready for sale. I was so lost in the chaos I forgot to even set goals… But if I pretend the goal was to get the house ready, then goal is accomplished!

    Analysis: So, three weeks after classes ended, I am finally in a space (literally) where I can get to writing. Part of me is challenged by the guilt of not having done at least some writing these past weeks. I’ve been reading Boice and really do see the value of brief work periods. Trying to forgive myself for not having accomplished what I said I would and move forward. On Friday I head home to visit my parents, which is going to be a very difficult trip as my mother is very ill. But I’m hoping to continue with some writing, with patience and compassion for myself.

    Next Goal: 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.

    Thanks so much Amstr for hosting this site and providing a space for community!

  21. I am SOOOO sorry for checking in late 😦 An unexpected emergency took me out of town and without a laptop. (And it’s also reminded me of yet *another* reason to switch over to a smart phone. I could have gotten online!) It won’t happen again, I promise. Thank you gor hosting!

    1.Goal: recover, read, plan.
    2.Accomplished: This half happened–the emergency kind of took away from some of the reading/recovering time.
    3.Analysis: Lesson? You can’t plan for everything. Even after the semester ends.
    4.Next Goal: Big summer goal for writing workshop: Have two solid chapters written for my book. I’d love to say more, but we’re making a lot of changes here so two seems reasonable even if it’s a smaller goal than I want. This goal still involves finishing two books and two DVDs that I have for research purposes, re-reading and revising what I have (which is currently just fragments of numerous “chapters” and a solid idea of the plot arch) and entering in hand written notes on the computer. However, we’re also moving this summer and I’m job hunting…so two real chapters might be just enough.
    Next week’s goal: Commit backstory idea to paper (or computer) so I don’t forget it. Read 2 chapters of book 1 (already started) for research.
    5.Next Check In (optional): I should be able to check in next week just fine.

    Sorry again for the late check in.

    What I love about my field…it’s very diverse. Student I teach end up in so many different areas. Same with my peers–we’re all researching very different things. And I love that it gives me the freedom to explore my favorite things: pop culture, relationships, technology.

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