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)

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50 thoughts on “Audience (Summer Writing Group, Week 6)

  1. I’m dropping out – between not being at home with my own computer, and having had a migraine drag on all week (that was bad enought to find a urgent care place open on Sunday to go get an injection) I think I’m going to have to satisfy myself to just get done what I can, and give up on set goals and this group…

    • I’m sorry to hear about the migrane, and it makes sense to drop out. I hope the rest of the summer becomes more profitable for you, with a quick recovery. Feel free to stop back by any time. All the best.

  2. Since I’m leaving this afternoon for five weeks teaching Abroad. So I may be the only one surprised (and I’m not, really), that I didn’t do much if any research this week.

    Last goal: keep trying to finish the draft.
    Accomplished: some reading at the gym. Printed the latest companion-piece draft to take with me. Returned all but 5 library books, because I meant to at least copy quotations from them, but didn’t get that far.
    Analysis: the week was all errands, household stuff, cat stuff, and teaching prep. It all needed to get done.
    Next goal: same as the last one.

  3. Goal: 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).

    Accomplished: everything!

    Analysis: My modest goals worked well for a short work week necessitated by a mini-vacation this end-of-the-week/weekend (and I skipped out on a children’s museum visit today so I could finish up). Even with modest goals, it felt like I made a lot of progress.

    I had to push myself to do the revision pass quickly–I don’t have advisor feedback yet, but I wanted to get a little bit of a head start. I think I have a pretty clear idea of what I have left to do.

    Starting a new draft of Ch. 2 in a blank document was definitely the right move. I was able to see more clearly how the opening of the article version needs some reverse outlining to get the paragraphs more focused and moving forward in a logical way. I was able to make the chapter intro a lot cleaner, and cutting and pasting a lot gave me the fantastic feeling of accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time. The exercise separated me enough from the article version that I was able to move into thinking of the material in chapter form.

    Goals for next week: 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.

    I’d love to have Ch. 2 done by the end of the month, but we’ll see how much I can actually get done this week.

    As far as audience goes, I haven’t thought much about it. I suppose I often write for my writing partner, but he’s much more of an expert in my field than I am, though he’s less versed in the particular theory I’m applying. This combination makes him an invaluable reader, but probably not my best imagined audience. I should probably think of someone who has read the major works I’m writing on at some point in time (probably a while ago) and who has heard of the theory, but not explored it much. Someone’s who’s smart, savvy, and generally interested in engaging with new topics, but doesn’t have the time to puzzle out what I’m trying to say. I think it might also help me a lot to imagine someone I actually know who fits this description. (GEW–I think that might be you.)

  4. Goal:

    1/2 revising Monday (today)
    1/2 revising Th and Fr after returning from trip.
    I’m not planning to work on my article while I”m gone.

    Accomplished:
    I worked a bit on my mess of a bibliography for 1/2 hour the Monday before I left and yesterday (the Thursday after I got back). I was too tired to revise coherently, so I figured I could deal with zotero a bit. I suspect I need to be a bit more awake to learn how to use zotero efficiently.

    Analysis:

    It was realistic that I did not plan to work while travelling. (I could have been more realistic and left my running shoes at home). I credit the group for the fact that I got any work on my article done the Monday in between a Sunday birthday party and a 5:45 am flight on Tuesday; ditto for yesterday.
    Today lethargy and procrastination took over-I had plenty of *time* since I skipped a yoga class as well as avoiding my paper.

    For next week, my main goal is to get back into the healthy parts of my writing and exercise routine, but I’m low-balling the amount of time in the goal because I have some much else to deal with.
    I’m setting Tuesday aside for a commute to campus to work on finishing up the last bits of last semester’s service.

    Next Goal:
    1/2 hour MWTHF, working on the article.

    Next Check In: next week

    • Setting realistic goals is the best thing to do when you have a lot of other things to deal with–it’s when I’m overly ambitious that I get discouraged because I know I won’t meet my goal. Bravo for getting back into the healthy parts. I’m there with you.

  5. I’m afraid I’m going to have to withdraw from this writing group, this time, too. Life was crazy with the end of semester, and trying to work out the next step. Currently, both my husband and I are looking for academic jobs, and trying to keep our heads above water while we wait for something, anything, to show up. We’re currently on the first holiday of ever, and while I did bring some serious books to read, I’m not sure how much ‘work’ will, or indeed, should, get done.

    Have fun, all, and thanks for the support. I’ll hopefully be back for the next one.

  6. goal: Finish the N section, with a goal of submitting the chapter by June 28.

    accomplished: Not yet.

    analysis: I was so surprised to see that I went the entire week without opening the chapter file. I can’t figure out what happened, but writing practice just got away from me. The file is open on my laptop now, and will mostly stay open, until it’s finished. Thanks to the group for giving me a space in which to reassert my commitment.

    next goal: By next week’s check-in, I plan to have that chapter sent off.

    When I was writing my dissertation, I was aware of the “committee in my head,” that I had a constant internal dialog with my committee members about what I thought they wanted, expected, and would like to see. I feel fortunate that those people were supportive, and so the committee in my head didn’t judge me as much as they cheered me on. This is all a conversation of my own making—in the same way those judgmental internal critics get in the way of good writing. I’ve noted before that I was trained by public intellectuals, and that is my intended audience—smart, thoughtful people who don’t want to be bored by tedious prose. And I feel really fortunate that such an audience actually exists in the world.

  7. Goal: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.

    Accomplished: I finished the administrivia report! In time to circulate it 24 hours before the meeting it related to. But the chair had changed the agenda and has postponed to report to… next academic year. I hate administration.

    I think I sorted the problem with the MSc paper, too. At least, I have a coherent story.

    Also, I wrote an interim report for the current funded project I have. Follows a formula, but it was writing…

    Analysis: I should have been doing some worthy things like refereeing (I have a backlog), but when I had a free hour I used the annoyance of the administrivia report postponement to tackle the thing that was bothering me most, the MSc paper. I ended up spending about four hours on it, and broke through, so although I only added about 500 words to the text, I finally know where it’s going so the rest should be easier to draft. Sometimes I just need to work on what’s bugging me, regardless of priorities and lists and plans.

    next goal:Today has been spent doing errands and chores, tomorrow I leave for fieldwork. I don’t have time to NOT write, but the first week is likely to be the busiest in terms of sorting things out in the evening, and in terms of knackeredness due to not being used to fresh air (!), so my goal is much as this week: 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: intends to be next weekend, but I’m not 100% sure how good the internet access is at the field station. If the internet access is really bad or there’s more work than I expect, then it will be the weekend of the 14th/15th of July.

    Audience: An interesting question, and the answer has changed as my work has developed. At the moment, my more theoretical/controversial/maths-y papers are written assuming my second post-doc boss is the audience – he’s impatient with theory, highly sceptical about this area that I work on, and won’t re-read a sentence if it doesn’t make sense the first time, so writing for him encourages a focus on clarity, logic and spelling out my reasoning. For my more empirical/conventional papers, I try to write for my graduate seminar students – they read papers outside their main fields of study, and never have enough time to read around, so want the background and rationale presented clearly and concisely, and to know why they should care about the study and about the findings. Of course, that’s the final version – early drafts are written for an audience of me (and my co-authors, when I have them) as I try to work out exactly what I want/need to say!

    • Hurrah for any sort of break-through, and commiserations on wasted administrivia time. At least you have it done, and ready for whenever it is wanted (at least I hope the requirements won’t change on you in the interim).

      I think there is, indeed, something to be said for working on the thing that’s bugging one most, at least at times. The unconscious does have a wisdom of its own.

    • Congrats on finding a direction with your troublesome paper!

      I like the audience of grad seminar students–I’ll have to keep that in mind.

      Best wishes on the transition to the field.

  8. Goal: Do all the moving stuff, read 2 chapters.

    Accomplished: Moved. Kind of unpacked. I don’t recall reading a darn thing.

    Analysis: When moving one should ask if the building is smoke free or not. Not asking that means that we end up being the only non-smokers in the building–I’m super allergic, husband is allergic…we are moving AGAIN into a different building (at least this is literally a move we can walk to) in three weeks. I’m tired of living out of boxes. We have been doing what we can to minimize the smell, but it comes straight through vents and pipes.

    The moving and unexpected stress of not being able to settle in this particular apartmentdid a number on me and I kind of gave up on everything for the week. I certainly let stress and my emotions get the better of me. (It was just such a disappointment to not be able to fully move in a settle down.)

    New goal: Write. 1 page. Read: 1 chapter. Apply to two jobs.

    Audience…huh. I hadn’t really thought about who my audience was for my book. People who read fantasy of course, but age wise, I have no idea yet. For my thesis I know I wrote for the more academic reader–which I didn’t like, that wasn’t really my voice. In fact, I had a paper accepted to a conference but rejected from the book that was supposed to result from the conference because I wasn’t using enough jargon. That’s just not who I am as a writer, it’s not style I ever figured out how to get comfortable with.

    I was going to ask the group–how many drafts of a piece do you keep? If you make major edits (cuts/additions) do you keep the older version? I’m in a place where I hesistate to get rid of older, but vastly different versions of chapters “just in case” I need it.

    • I keep multiple versions (I create a new version each time I make a major change), but they’re virtual these days, which helps. One of these days I need to go back and get rid of the paper versions of diss chapters that I’m pretty sure I still have somewhere (this despite the fact that I’ve been increasingly sure for, oh, about 5 years now that the diss itself will not become a book, though my (projected) first book will be a spinoff from one part of the diss). If they’re virtual copies, I’d say keep as many as makes you feel secure. You probably won’t use them, but having them can make you braver about experimenting with things.

    • And I’m sorry to hear that the apartment turned out to be unsuitable, but glad there’s an alternative. Still, it must be frustrating to have to remain in an unsettled condition for a while.

    • Oh, how terrible! I hope the waiting time for your next move ends up being okay, productive even.

      As far as drafts–lately, I save a version once a week (though I think my computer is somehow saving back-ups and other versions that I’m not aware of). Sometimes I keep printed out versions, but mostly I toss them once I’ve typed in changes. I tend to think of saving things more as back-ups, rather than for gathering material later. (I’ll keep your question in mind for a weekly prompt, too.)

    • I tend to keep only one working draft, but I also have a running file for every project called “unused” where I put material that I’ve written and then edited out of a draft. That enables me to go back and recover something I may have wished I had not deleted.

  9. Hi, all

    Goal: sending a replying e-mail on my argument, finishing a first draft.

    Accomplished: I have sent a really rough draft of my presentation to my supervisor. A first draft is not finished yet.

    Analysis: It was very difficult for me to start to write a draft. Then I tried to write a really rough draft not thinking of showing it to my supervisor. It worked rather well, and I was helped by last week’s comments on my post.

    My last week was a terrible one, actually. My kids were sick and are still not well, so my parents had to visit me to help me most of the week. I had a bad cold and had to skip two classes. What I have realized is that my health, family’s health are really really important! I hope everyone here is fine and well! Don’t be like me!

    Goal: finishing a draft. Do it.

    Audience….I usually think of people in my field when I am writing an academic paper, not general public. This is maybe because I think my writing is not too specific in the first place. I usually do not use difficult words, nor elaborate sentences, so I think I have to think about specialist when writing, otherwise my writing can be too easy, not academic enough.

  10. Goal for last week: 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.

    Accomplished: got a lot done on the freelance assignment yesterday, and am in pretty good shape on the grading (but will have to do a final big push on grading final papers in the next 36 hours or so, which may get frantic, which is why I’m checking in now). Will probably end up finishing the freelance thing on Tues., which means a shorter break than I’d planned (or stealing a bit more time at the end for more of a break), but we’ll see. I’m definitely tired, and moving more slowly than I’d prefer.

    Analysis: I’m definitely not fast on the freelance stuff, and not sure I want to be (I checked, and my name will be on these, so, derivative and formulaic or not, they need to come up to a standard I’m willing to claim). But the assignments so far are well in my period/field, and allow me either to review things I know well (and catch up with some recent work), or get to know (albeit rather briefly and shallowly) work that I’ happy to be more aware of. And it will bring in a bit of money. So I think it’s worth it — but definitely not worth losing track of the J article, so getting back in touch with that is a major goal after my planned break.

    Goal for the next 10 days or so: 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: July 7 or 8 (I’m planning to skip a week).

    Audience: I’m actually hoping the J article will have a larger audience than the P project, though the two overlap, and have planned my “ladder” of target journals (a reach, and several solid back-ups) with that in mind. But J is already well-known; I’m trying to call people’s attention to P and what’s interesting about hir work. Both are academic audiences, though I’m contemplating whether I could do some general-audience stuff on J as well. And the P project will eventually have a digital component, which will probably have a dual audience: academic, but also students and other members of the public who might stumble on it. And I’m also in touch with some of P’s descendants, who have some unpublished papers; that makes for some interesting audience questions, though so far the relationship seems cordial enough.

    For the freelance stuff, the main audience is, at least theoretically, undergrads in need of a reference work (not, I hope, in need of something to plagiarize or use to avoid doing the reading, though I don’t honestly think these pieces will work for that; if I were convinced that that were their main purpose, I wouldn’t write them). I’m honestly a bit curious about the product (a reference work) I’m helping to produce, and to whom the publisher (well established and, to the best of my knowledge, market-savvy) expects to market it. It’s a reference book at the moment, presumably directed at college/university libraries, but I can’t help wondering whether they don’t envision chopping it up in some way, perhaps into a digital product, or intros that can be selected for custom readers, or something along those lines. Personally, I’m mostly aware that the result *might* also be read by others in my field (including an editorial committee that’s reviewing the work as it comes in), and am trying to pitch quality, if not content and tone, at that level. That probably has me going a bit slower than other participants (I’m getting that sense from my contact, but am free to set my own pace), which means I’m not maximizing my earnings, but I do care what’s out there with my name on it.

  11. I’m back! I took a week off for DHSI and another week of freaking out and trying to find a job/get my life in order/not to lose my mind because I live with my parents again and am far too old for that to be ok.

    Goal for last week: (Technically, this was actually the goal for week 3 that I didn’t accomplish, so I’m trying it again.) Finish a book review, a review of a volume for a publisher, and complete Week 1 in WYJA.

    Accomplished: Well, not much really. I did get the volume done for the publisher. I also started revising my academic job search cover letter because I want to be better prepared for that and, let’s be honest, time is flying by. I also applied to what seems like 100 pt jobs – with no luck. Does visiting a bunch of family and friends I haven’t seen in forever count? I think it should count. It counts. It had to be done.

    Analysis: Here’s the problem. The lower my bank balance goes, the more I freak out and the less I write. The job search has been a rather savage experience, considering I am only trying to find a part-time job to pay my bills. This isn’t even the job search for a teaching job. How am I going to handle both? I think it’s going to get ugly. I have to find a way to block out all the worries and just write. I haven’t been able to do that. If anyone has any advice for that, I would REALLY appreciate it. I have seriously thought about dropping out of the writing group, given that it’s Week 6 and I’ve managed to review a book for a publisher. Whoopee. I’m trying desperately to focus

    Next week’s goal: Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA. That’s it. That’s all I want to do. If I get it done, it will be a miracle.

    Audience: I think audience plays a huge role in my writing. It usually causes me to freeze up with writer’s block, if I’m writing for anyone other than my supervisor. That’s a big problem. So far, however, this chapter that’s going into a book isn’t causing too much anxiety. I’m trying to just remember that it’s part of my dissertation and that isn’t scary. Fingers crossed that it stays that way!

    • First, DON’T drop out! This group is all about helping each other find our way to writing and figuring out how to make it happen. Finishing something and sending it in is huge–you ARE making progress.

      When I start to panic and can’t focus, I tend to do a 750word brain dump and get all the doubts, worries, and pesky details on paper (or screen–I tend to use 750words.com). Then I do a new freewrite aiming toward what I want to work on that day, whether it be strategizing about how to pace myself to get even just an hour’s work done, or what tiny goals I can make to meet that day, or working out what sections of a chapter I’m going to work on that day (even making a mini-zero draft of it). Somehow telling myself what I’m going to do in detail helps me to do it.

      It’s easy to let the crazy parts of life seem “normal,” and then writing becomes this odd space where you must focus or change in order to do it. If you can, see the writing as the normal part, and let yourself enjoy the normal part–let the writing focus you, rather than working hard to focus on the writing.

      And visiting family and friends totally counts.

      Fingers crossed for your job search.

    • Oh, dear. Your plight sounds all too familiar.

      I like amstr’s ideas for freewriting your way past the anxiety and into your subject, and also the idea of trying to make writing your “normal” place. It’s easier said than done, I realize, but a writing routine might in fact turn out to be one of the things you can keep constant while trying to build an academic career. But creating such a routine (and making it flexible enough to survive various work schedules and other distractions) may require some experimentation with different ways of getting centered, getting started, ending in a way that allows you to begin again as easily as possible, etc. Perhaps if you thought of this summer as as much an exercise in experimenting with approaches as in getting a particular project done, that might help?

      Good luck with the job search. You’ve probably thought of this, but are you in a position to do any sort of tutoring/academic-enrichment-type work, either by signing on with an established program or by advertising your services on a freelance basis? With schools recently out, it’s high season for that. The other thing I’ve done to keep the wolf from the door is to write for standardized tests. At least in the for I did it (one of the grad admissions tests), it’s fairly rigorous and intellectually challenging work, and pays reasonably well. There’s something to be said for looking for work where Ph.D./ABD is a requirement, or at least an advantage; it reduces the competition somewhat.

  12. Thank you to everyone for the lovely supportive comments and advice on my job announcement a few weeks back, and then last week’s freak-out. Amazing how that makes one see things more clearly. Turns out things were not quite as bad as it seems. So…
    Goal: definitely regrouped, and after looking at everything with a good cup of tea and a bunch of chocolate, it really wasn’t that bad. Very much a question of “what I heard wasn’t what she meant…” and supervisor and I both agreed that we had the cat by the tail for part of our conversation.

    Accomplished: Actually, a lovely conference presentation for this week. with new figures for the paper. Paper is very close to done, it took a back seat to panic and conference stuff, but it is in good shape.

    Analysis: The presentation was the catalyst for the awful meeting, and because it is close to the current paper in subject, I felt terrible when it looked like paper had to be redone. But it doesn’t – the problem was not the paper, it was my conference style summary of it. That fine line between putting everything you know into a 15 minute talk on one hand, or missing vital information. So problem is solved, and going back to the paper, the discussions/results were not the problem, the summary of conclusions was. So when the summary appeared in the presentation all by itself it looked like I was a complete idiot. Problem fixed, sigh of relief…

    Next goal: Go talk at next conference, and finish the paper. I’m really looking forward to going, mostly because my house is now officially up for sale (was up painting baseboards at 3am last night!) and everything is chaos. So hiding in a hotel for two days seems really pleasant. It is only a short train ride away, so I’m only going for a few days, can’t do the whole week away at this stage. But I’ll get to go to a few sessions, present, and have uninterrupted sleep!

    Audience: I’m having a very hard time with my audience. Actually a lot of the crossed wires paper/presentation discussion above is related to different audience types… They are either technical specialists who care a great deal about the data, or generalists who care about the implications. Or another way, some are regional specialists about my area, and others are specialists in the same topic but different locations. So I find it very hard to write for both since each group has different expectations of what they would like to see addressed. Writing for only one segment gets one into trouble with the others (it is a very small field, everyone knows each other’s work, so the parts where anybody address previous work reads like a laundry list and who’s who all mixed up). I don’t have issues with language or writing style (that part I actually do very well), my problem is what goes in, what stays out… The default position is everything I know goes into the first draft of anything I write, and then it gets culled from there. I think part of the problem is the thesis vs. papers working styles – theses in my field are recognizable in the library by size alone (double volumes not uncommon) and papers, well, papers have a limit. So the challenging question is what to tell the reader so that she has the background to evaluate what I’m talking about? How much is too much? What are the vital bits I’m leaving out? And also, I have to keep in mind that not everyone who reads my papers will have spent the last 5 years memorizing and agonizing over every tiny detail in them. What???? Nobody else will ever care about this little data pile as much as I will??? Shocking thought, but probably good to know!

    Anyway, off to paint more baseboards… And door frames… how many doors does this place have???

  13. Goal: 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.

    Accomplished: Not much. I did present both papers at the conference a week ago and they were well accepted. I also managed to reread the P&P draft and make a list of the edits that it needs. I also took the LM paper from a powerpoint to a very rough draft form. Unfortunately my writing work pretty much ended there.

    Analysis: I did absolutely no work during the conference (except for attending the conference) and spent the rest of the week visiting friends and family in NYC. Since I’ve been back I’ve been putting the final touches on my online course that starts tomorrow (yikes!). I’m also trying to write a 4000 word essay for a non-academic chapter in an edited volume, so that’s taking a little time. This summer definitely isn’t going as I anticipated. I’m not sure where I am with it all but I do hope to continue with the three papers, even if they don’t all make it to a finalized draft by the end of the summer. The last few check-ins I’ve mentioned the amount of reading and note-taking I need to do but so far haven’t managed to sit down and do it.

    Next Goal: 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.

    Audience: This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I think consciously manipulating the audience in your mind is critical to successful writing and I often teach my students to start with a friendly audience so they don’t hamstring themselves. I generally write to friends, who are knowledgeable but not well-read in my field.

  14. Goal: an hour and a half with the thesis

    Achieved: An hour and a half with the thesis. A large part of that time was spent organizing and thinking rather than writing, but any progress I can make on while doing experiments is good. I also had some unexpected writing for a progress report for my adviser’s grant and managed to get that (mostly) done.

    Analysis: I’m thankful to have the accountability to make small strides towards getting the writing done!

    Next goal: Flesh out some thoughts for what could go in the intro and discussion sections of the paper we’re about to write (that experiments are still not wrapped up on!) and figure out where my knowledge gaps are to read effectively to fill them. Writing a clear discussion is the part I’m fearing most as it assumes I have a broader knowledge base than I likely do…so this is an attempt to move towards the fear rather than run from it.

    Audience: This is a good question to stop and consider. I think I write to someone with a decent background in biology but not necessarily a specialist in my field, but I will need to think more about this in the coming months.

  15. Checking in late. Had a busy weekend with family commitments. Looking forward to a slightly calmer week though I’m wondering what the heck happened to the month of June?!

    Goal: Full draft, work on revisions

    Accomplished: Done, done, and done.

    Next week’s goal: Finish revisions, double check citations and format.

    I would like to set this article aside for a week or so, after I finish the revisions. Then I’ll give it another review and submit. Phew. Then on to the second article of the summer.

    I consciously took the weekend off from writing, in part because of the family commitments mentioned above, but also as a result of a bad week. I hit a wall toward the end of last week and I think it had to do with how hard I’ve been pushing to get some work done every day. Working every day, but not finishing anything because every summer project on my list consists of multiple steps, etc., etc. I think the downtime helped because I feel re-energized this morning.

    • Congratulations on meeting your goals! I’m glad you’re feeling energized for the week. Time away from work, or from a project, can make such a difference.

  16. Goal: Read a paper a day for the manuscript

    Accomplished: I did it!!!

    Analysis: Setting a small goal was the key to getting this done. When I started to do something else I was able to force myself back to reading the papers I needed to by reminding myself that I only had to read one. That one usually turned into a couple and I made some reasonable progress last week!

    Next week’s goal: More of the same. Keep reading at least one paper a day and maybe, just maybe, try to write a little.

    Audience: That’s a tough one. I’ve always been told that I needed to be able to explain my work to my grandmother, but I don’t know that I’ve ever given much thought to my audience. Now that I stop to think about it, I guess my audience is the people who are likely to read my manuscript. That is an informed audience, who are likely in the same field with a reasonable background. This is good to think about. Knowing that it may force me to make some changes to my current draft. I think I might be able to take some parts out that explain some basic information. I’ll have to think about this…

    • Glad to hear you met your goal! And it sounds like you made even more progress once you get started. I do the same “low goal” for exercise–I convince myself to just do 5 minutes, and if I want to quit after that it’s fine. I always end up doing way more.

  17. Goal: WYJA Week 3

    Accomplished: Nada (though I did do a few hours of work the week before but didn’t post on time last week about it).

    Analysis: We were out of town and then recovering from being out of town. I spent this weekend getting about half of the baby shower stuff done that I need to do. I plan to get back to working every morning this week. And I need to move on past week 3 here soon!!

    Next Goal: WYJA Week 3

    • That recovery time from being out of town always gets me. It usually takes about a week to feel normal again.

      I hope the morning work times go well this week!

  18. I think I’m late, but just as a record:
    1) Goals: work on EOCP every day, be more organized about other urgent things
    2) Accomplished: And guess what? Urgent things took over COMPLETELY. I didn’t work on EOCP for 10 days.
    3) Analysis: Though it was a combination of childcare, teaching prep, and prep/meetings associated with (mostly volunteer) committee work, it was mainly the committee work. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about getting out of or doing a bad job on the committee work– perhaps some selective non-attendance at meetings that aren’t necessary, but other than that both are personally important to me and I couldn’t do a bad job on them without feeling like I’m being untrue to myself (and endangering my job security)– I need to figure out how I can get publications done.
    4) Goals for next week: On free mornings, work on EOCP or another pub for 2 hours. [done for Monday, impossible for Tuesday]

    As for audience: I have to know which journal I’m writing for– and thus the audience exactly– before I can write. I think this is a field thing, though it might also be a perfectionism thing. Different journals have entirely different expectations for focus (all-field-people or subset?), word count, and to some extent the tone of the writing.

    • Sorry for the unproductive week writing-wise. It sounds like it was very productive in other ways. I hope this week is turning out to be less emergency-driven.

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