OBE (Overwhelmed By Events) (Summer Writing Group, Week 7)

This week I’m going to revisit a topic Notorious PhD, Girl Scholar, introduced last summer (in an earlier version of this writing group). Here’s what she said then:

OBE [Overwhelmed By Events] can arise from expected causes – a conference, a vacation, a family visit. It can also be the result of unforseen events: illness (yours or a family member’s), or another project that pops up and demands your immediate attention (ADM talked last week about strategies for juggling projects). Or you could have just been hit by severe lethargy, gotten sucked in by Hulu or Netflix or an ambition to read the complete works of Dickens, and let a two-day break stretch into two weeks, and now you don’t know how to get back again. These things do happen, and while we strive to be dedicated writers who meet our goals, we are not machines.

But also: Let’s talk about how to keep a detour from becoming a permanent derailment. After all, if you get derailed, you become demoralized, which makes it even harder to get started again. It’s happened to all of us . . .

What do you to do keep OBE from completely sabotaging your writing life? How do you stay engaged with your project when everything seems to distract from it? If you do have to take a break from your project, how do you get started again quickly? What steps will you take the next time this happens to you?

Check in guidelines, as usual: 1) Goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Goals for next week, 5) optional Next check in date, if you’ll miss a week or two or three.

The List:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 1) reverse outline Ch.2 Article Version, 2) type in changes for Ch. 3 revision pass, 3) “draft” 20 more pages of Ch. 2, Extra Credit) do some reading for ArticleRev.
Becky
[journal article]: Keep reading at least one paper a day and maybe, just maybe, try to write a little.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: finish freelance piece and grading, TAKE BREAK for at least a week, maybe 10 days. Reacquaint myself with J project (probably on July 7); begin planning/replanning rest of summer (or maybe that will be the following week). (next check-in 7/6)
Daisy
[finish thesis]: Go talk at next conference, and finish the paper.
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: keep trying to finish the draft.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: 5 or 6 hours (check in 6/29)
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: On free mornings, work on EOCP or another pub for 2 hours. [done for Monday, impossible for Tuesday]
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: ?
humming42
[complete book MS]: chapter sent off.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: SOME activity on ANY ONE of the following: first draft of the MSc paper, do an R&R, get a first draft of the NextBigPaper out to collaborators, do a re-rewrite of the intro to ComplicatedPaper based on the comments from co-authors that have come in along with a final polish and submit, write a plan for the next chunk of fieldwork. (next check-in possibly 7/13)
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Flesh out some thoughts for what could go in the intro and discussion sections of the paper we’re about to write
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]:  WYJA Week 3
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1/2 hour MWTHF, working on the article.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: finishing a draft. Do it.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Finish revisions, double check citations and format.
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ?
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Write. 1 page. Read: 1 chapter. Apply to two jobs.
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: ???
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: look at lots of sixteenth century books and write at least one paragraph about each relevant/interesting one. Extra credit: write a blog post about the work in the archives. (next check in: 6/29)
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: Do some reading for the P&P and the LM paper and take notes. Also finish the rough draft of the findings section on the support paper.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA.

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Audience (Summer Writing Group, Week 6)

Last week in her comment, NWGirl included this piece of advice from her dissertation chair:

Write for an informed reader not an academic. That is avoid the jargon, the academicese. Don’t bore your reader. Challenge your reader but avoid being pompous. My dissertation chair said she wrote for her mother, a well-read reader but one who didn’t hold an advanced degree in the field.

Whom do you write for?  Who is your imagined audience for your current project? Is it different from your real audience? How does your sense of audience affect your writing?

Please check in by noon on Monday (PST). The comments will technically be open after that if you’d like to continue conversations.

Thanks for adhering to the check in format: 1) Goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Goals for next week, 5) optional Next check in date, if you’ll miss a week or two or three.

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 1) find books/article for one section of Article Revision revision, 2) finish Ch. 3 revision pass, 3) make photocopies from overdue library books, 4) “draft” 5 pages of Ch. 2 (copying lots from the article).
Aria
[something ??]: ?
Becky
[journal article]: Read at least 1 paper a day for this manuscript
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by end of summer; progress on P project]: finish up class and get as much grading done as possible. Get as far as possible on 2nd freelance assignment. Generally prepare and protect time for very badly needed real break after grades and 2nd freelance assignment are in. Touch base with J materials if possible.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: regroup and figure out which way to go.
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: keep trying to finish the draft. Seriously, I need about 500-700 new words, another 1000 moved in from a conference paper version, and then a lot of grooming.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: 5 or 6 hours (check in possibly 6/29)
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Work on EOCP or writing every day. Again, try to put it first if possible. Also try to be more efficient about other kinds of work, fit them in on “regular” days so that they don’t entirely take over on “last-minute” days.
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: Finish primary source and type notes and quotes.
humming42
[complete book MS]: Finish the N section, with a goal of submitting the chapter by June 28.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: Survive! SOME activity on ANY ONE of the following: rough out the problem with the MSc paper, do an R&R, get a first draft of the NextBigPaper out to collaborators, do a re-rewrite of the intro to ComplicatedPaper based on the comments from co-authors that have come in along with a final polish and submit, or complete the administrivia-report.
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: an hour and a half with the thesis (next check in: 6/22)
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: ?
kiwimedievalist
[article]: ??
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1/2 revising Monday (today);
1/2 revising Th and Fr after returning from trip. (next check in: 6/22)
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: Sending a replying e-mail on my arguement and finishing a draft.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: work on revising (the intro and the conclusion), editing, etc.; full draft with the new literature, etc. by the end of this week; write first thing in the morning (except one day).
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: send manuscript off to grad student so he can add his part, revise Part II. Jot down some thoughts re: review article
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Do all the moving stuff, read 2 chapters. (next check in: 6/22)
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: ??
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: look at lots of sixteenth century books and write at least one paragraph about each relevant/interesting one. Extra credit: write a blog post about the work in the archives. (next check in: 6/29)
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: re-read the P&P paper draft and make a list of edits that it needs. Some reading for at least one of the three papers on my plate this summer. (next check in: 6/22)
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: (next check in: 6/22)

Writing Advice (Summer Writing Group, Week 5)

When I was teaching composition ten years ago, I doled out amazing amounts of writing advice. Write what you know. Don’t use your first ten ideas because everyone else has thought of those too. Highlight your topic sentences and read them all in a row to see if your organization works. Read each sentence of your essay in reverse order (last one first) to catch grammar and proofreading errors. Write early. Now that I’m primarily a writer, it’s interesting to see which of those pieces of advice have stuck with me. (I’ll let you know my favorite in the comments.)

What’s the piece of writing advice you’ve received (from a person, class, book, etc.) that has the most impact on your writing now? Or what piece of advice do you wish you’d heard or taken seriously earlier in your writing life?

I’ll leave the comments open through Monday noon (PST).

As usual, the check-in format: 1) Goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Goals for next week, 5) optional Next check in date, if you’ll miss a week or two or three.

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]:  1) do a first revision pass on Ch. 3, 2) read comments from editor on article-version of Ch. 2 and decide what to do, 3) make notes for Ch. 2 revision, 4) write an introduction to the Ch. version.
Aria
[something ??]: no goals (conference week).
Becky
[journal article]: read more for the manuscript.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: finish one freelance assignment, start 2nd if time. Survive student conferences & family event. Take care of self. Bonus: Check in with J article material once or twice.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: Finish the data paper and get it to supervisor, finally…
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: Finish draft of the MMP-companion-piece essay, recognizing that there will be holes to fill in when I have all the necessary books and so on.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]:  An hour a day on the article, using what I can of Week 1 of WYJA.
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Work on EOCP every day; try to do it first thing in the morning when getting into the office / turning on computer.
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: Finish reading primary source (novel) for Chapter 5, typing notes and quotes.
humming42
[complete book MS]: send off chapter 1 to the editors for review.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: teach the intensive course;  put together some notes on the paper with the MSc student explaining to myself why exactly I’m struggling with it, work out who to talk to about it, and arrange a meeting.
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: an hour and a half with the thesis (next check in: 6/22)
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: Finish WYJA Week 3
kiwimedievalist
[article]: ?
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1/2 revising Monday (today);
1/2 revising Th and Fr after returning from trip. (next check in: 6/22)
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: finishing a first draft, praying to WYJA for help and inspiration.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Finish writing up my notes on the literature review and move on to Week 6 of WYJA
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ?
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Do all the moving stuff, read 2 chapters. (next check in: 6/22)
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: ?
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]:  at least 10 more articles for the summer seminar.
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: re-read the P&P paper draft and make a list of edits that it needs. Some reading for at least one of the three papers on my plate this summer. (next check in: 6/22)
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: (next check in: 6/22)

Paper vs. Screen (Summer Writing Group: Week 4)

Our topic of the week comes from JaneB (thanks, JaneB!):

What balance between physical and electronic forms of drafts and physical and electronic writing media works for you? For example, some of us probably write drafts long hand, others use word processor software to write then do major edits with a pen on a paper copy, others do the lot on a computer… pros and cons?

Other questions that relate: What tools do you use when your writing is really moving? What do you use when you get stuck? Why do you use what you use?

Feel free to answer any of the questions above, and as always, comment on others’ comments when you can. I’ll leave the comments sections open through Monday, mostly because it’s summer (at least for the northern hemisphere folks), and partly because commenting on other people’s posts is a great way to procrastinate my way into working at the start of the week.

A reminder of the check-in format: 1) Goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Goals for next week, 5) optional Next check in date, if you’ll miss a week or two or three.

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: for real this time, finish The Chapter.
Aria
[something ??]: make some progress
Becky
[journal article]: Read more for the section I’m working on.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: work on J article on Tu, Th, and Sat. mornings. Do *not* let other things interfere; better sleep schedule. Accomplish one ancillary task, and make progress on the other.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: vacation!!! celebration!!!
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: 1500 words.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: Begin reading WYJA in hopes it will light a fire, although I’d settle for a candle. An hour a day on dissertation or article.
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Work on EOCP every day
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: 50 more pages of primary source reading, 500 words of writing for Chapter 2, and some notes and quotes for Chapter 5.
humming42
[complete book MS]:  first two sections of chapter 1 complete
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: rewrite ComplicatedPaper with co-author comments; and email revision to non-replying co-authors. Finish drafting the text to go with the analyses I have so far for NextBigPaper; work out exactly what additional analyses are needed. Rough out the latest version of Paper With MSc Student. Make notes to go along with the preliminary analyses and send those off to those collaborators. Prepare for intensive summer field week of teaching.
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Spend an hour and a half with the thesis
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: WYJA Week 3; email Zsuzsi.
kiwimedievalist
[article]:  week 3 of WYJA, and at least 60 mins a day working on one of the articles (possibly alternating)
luolin88 [finish and submit journal article; start next article]: Make writing a priority. Work first thing on MTWThF. (next check in: 6/22)
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: finishing a first draft, using WYJA.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: finish reviewing the related literature.
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: Write Results of MS#2. Edit section 2 of MS#1
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Read 4 chapters (or 3 chapters and some of the DVD), apply to one job (due next week), moving stuff. Bonus: write 1 page, even with pen and paper.
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: ??
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: Write 5 pages before Sunday evening. Write each day, first thing, for three hours before leaving to do fieldwork. With fieldwork, keep calling people until you find someone willing to let you shadow them.
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: 10 more articles, this time in preparation for my summer seminar; start editing the diss. Perhaps allow procrastination in the form of more job market material revision.
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: Finalize the LM presentation based on co-authors’ comments and send it off to the session moderator; finish activities in WYJA using the second presentation paper (P&P) for the activities. Begin Week 3 in WYJA. Edit my section of the findings section of the TS paper.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: (next check in: 6/22)

Keeping Track (Summer Writing Group: Week 3)

Thanks to all for lively commenting last week. I’ve been trying some new strategies for organizing myself, including the “three things” idea and revisiting life with a whiteboard (see photo). I’m sorry I was off the radar for most of the weekend. I was away on a good last-minute trip, rather than a hard one, but I still didn’t end up with much extra time for work/blog stuff.

Here’s an issue that came up in the comments last week that follows from our discussion of to-do lists and breaking down larger tasks. Becky asks advice on the problem of having the reacquaint oneself with one’s previous work before being able to move ahead:

I need to find a better way to keep track of where I am and what I’m doing. I’m fine as long as I work on it every day, but if I skip a day I’m lost. I find that I lose track of what papers I’ve already read and which I still need to finish. Does anyone have a good system for this?

So what about it, fellow writers? How do you keep track of what you’ve done, or where you are?

Again, comment on comments, if you get a chance.

Happy writing!

Roll Call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: finish Ch. 3 (finally!) and send to advisor.
Aria
[something ??]: ?
Becky
[journal article]: add to the section I’m working on
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: reacquaint myself at some length with the J paper on M; write on Tu and Th. Accomplish 2 ancillary tasks
Daisy
[finish thesis]:  vacation!!! celebration!!! (check-in 6/8)
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: 2000 more words, on either piece; some phonetic transcription and reading for another project; work out some “office hours” to stick to.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: firm up the plan to alternate the diss and the article, whether by alternate days, split days or whim
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Just plain old WORK on writing every day. Except Monday.
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ???
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: My goal is not to feel too embarrassed about the chapter I submitted; a lot of reading and writing.
humming42
[complete book MS]: the first two sections of Ch. 1 complete.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: finish the analysis for NextBigPaper, outline what needs doing to turn the idea with DrVisit into a paper, and write enough to send it to DrVisit, and thirdly to redo the analysis for the paper with last year’s MSc student.
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Communicate outlines and ideas to all collaborators and have a plan for how each party will write their sections moving forward.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: Finish WYJA Week 2 and complete Week 3. Take a shower and get dressed first, and then get to writing every morning. Not let babyshower planning interfere with writing time.
kiwimedievalist
[article]: Work through week 1 and 2 of the WYJA, now that I’ve got the book. Sort out time for the ‘summer’ (a week or two late, but better late than never!). Decide if I’ll go for two articles at once…
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: a. 1 hour of work TWThF, b. make a more specific plan
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: mainly Week 8 and 10 and the unfinished part of Week 5, 6, 7
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Finish Reviewing the Related Literature, etc. (same as this past week, but I plan to finish)
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]: ???
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: New rough outline of manuscript, begin working on small revisions from list, possibly do analyses for the second manuscript.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Read 4 chapters (or 3 chapters and some of the DVD), apply to one job (due next week), moving stuff. Bonus: write 1 page, even with pen and paper. [next check in 6/8]
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: ?
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: read for 30 minutes each day; make a clear week by week plan for my time there and of my daily routine
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: Read at least an article a day for new project, and keep working on the revisions of chapter 4. (Optional extra credit goal: revise job letter)
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer]: continue fleshing out the presentation outline for the LM; tackle some of the literature review; For next week I’ll be happy if I get through the readings I’ve identified and write a lit review memo from the notes I take. I will also work on Week 2 of WYJA.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: I have to finish the book review from last week, plus a review of a volume for a publisher. I will also complete Week 1 in WYJA.