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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47 thoughts on “OBE (Overwhelmed By Events) (Summer Writing Group, Week 7)

  1. 1) Goals from last time: 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.

    2) Accomplished: lots of little paragraphs! and a blog post. And some ideas for dissertation revisions. I’ve even started actually writing up a note on one of the texts that I’m working on.

    3) Analysis: I’m surprised that I got as much done as I did, because I have been battling the worst allergies EVER. It feels like a cold from hell, but only affecting me from the throat up (and oh, man, the itchy eyes…). Climate controlled libraries are my friend and help me beat off the worst of it during the day, but I’m not getting any really restful sleep because the allergies are so bad. So, I expect my productivity to go down the further into this trip I get unless whatever it is that my immune system wants to kill stops blooming.

    4) Goal for next week: write at least 400 words a day. Can be blog posts, notes, or actual revisions on the diss.

  2. Goals: Flesh out some thoughts for what could go in the intro and discussion sections of the paper we’re about to write

    Accomplished: Well…it was an interesting week. We found out that I have a direct competitor in Europe on my main project (the project that’s been on the back burner for the last 3 months b/c of the side project that we were expecting to write up this summer)…so all priorities and goals are getting rearranged. My summer writing goals will also change…just not sure of timeline yet. Most of what’s been accomplished writing-wise this week is re-evaluating my paper outline for my main project, thinking of experimental gaps, figuring out the bare minimum experiments we can do to fill those gaps so that we can publish quickly (lest we get scooped), and now I’m working on making publishable figures for the data we do have. (The bright side to all of this is that it could push the defense date to December-ish rather than Feb-March-ish.)

    Analysis: !?! um, unpredictable things happen.

    Goals for next week: Get at least half of my pieces of data made into figures (with legends). Start writing results.

    Overwhelmed by Events. That seems like a timely prompt. Right now, the overwhelming events are the fire under my butt making me work rather than overwhelming me so much that I can’t (though I’m sure in a couple of weeks, I could be in that position). I’m telling myself right now that sleep and some allotted relaxing time are going to be good for me and that I shouldn’t obey the adrenaline rush to try to write a paper in a night (as this isn’t a sprint but an endurance race) and as that will only result in burn-out (besides not being possible to accomplish). In the past when I’ve hit burn-out, I try to set guidelines on how much time I take off, whether it’s a few days or even a week to let the brain do something else. Sometimes of course the allotted time becomes longer than anticipated, but deadlines typically help to cause enough panic to get back on track in these cases.

    • I love your analysis.

      Taking breaks and time off from working can be really important, and sometimes counter-intuitive. I may have to plan myself some fun breaks–I often get stuck doing stupid things on the computer when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It would be much better, I think, to have a real break.

      • Lately (more when grading then writing), I roll out the yoga mat when I need a break. I do just a few sit ups, push ups, and squats. Then I can gloat that I got some exercise, but I find that it helps me reframe my brain to engage my body.

      • I like humming’s idea. Only (sigh) it probably would work better Here than at Home, where there isn’t really room in my study for the mat and by the time I went downstairs where there is room, I’d get sucked into some other task and be busy for an hour. Maybe just squats and standing stretches, then.

  3. Goals: 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.

    Accomplished: all but my main task of drafting Ch. 2.

    Analysis: I was stuck (yet again) by the way I defined my task. Drafting 20 pages, even though its mostly cutting and pasting, seemed daunting. I did get a few pages done, and today I got another paragraph started, so I’m parked downhill for this week. Doing the reverse outline of the article version was a huge help. I figured out that most of my paragraphs had really lame opening sentences, and that my main idea was buried somewhere at the end of the paragraphs. I can’t say I’m looking forward to revising, but at least I have an idea of where I need to go. And the chapter revision and article revisions are pretty much in line so far.

    This next week, even though there’s a holiday, I’ll get extra work time. I hadn’t planned for my husband to have 3 days off for 4th of July! I may even head off to a beach hotel for a couple days.

    Goals for this week: 1) tackle 2 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft.

    I’m not sure if I’ll be able to actually finish the draft, but I think I at least need to have it complete, knowing it will have some holes to fix. After I get the draft “done,” I’ll need to shift gears to get Ch. 3 fixed up to send to my secondary advisor.

    OBE–I feel lately like I’ve been more overwhelmed by my tasks. I definitely suffered from OBE in late May/early June. I think the strategy that works best for me is to focus on Small Achievable Goals, and give myself extra credit for anything more. The same strategy works for this overwhelmed-by-my-project feeling. It’s Anne Lamott’s “bird by bird” advice in action. And always easier said than done.

    • I think it’s easier said than done until you have a week or so of achieving those small goals, and then you get more convinced that this strategy will work and feel more enthusiastic about going and working on your one-inch piece of writing. Figuring out strong opening sentences for your paragraphs is huge! Huge! It will make such a difference to the piece of writing, and then you will feel better about it: a virtuous circle begins.

  4. goal: have that chapter sent off

    accomplished: I did.

    analysis: I’ve needed to finish this chapter since January, and doing so is like
    clearing a space that’s been full of clutter. That clutter is a lot of procrastination, worry, and negative self-talk. I hope I can continue to feel like I now have the space to go forward and move on to the next part of the manuscript.

    next goal: I haven’t looked at chapter 2 in a long while, so I don’t know how much work will be required to revise and reshape it with additional content. My goal is to mark up the preliminary material and have an idea of the major sections for the chapter. I’m deliberately vague and low balling because this is the last week of summer teaching and I expect to spend a lot of my energy there.

    OBE is one of those lovely instances of social construction: now that I have a term to refer to it, I can talk about it. My strategies depend on the circumstances. In the spring, I got overwhelmed with teaching and administrava and finally had to admit that it was in my best interest to put off research and writing until the summer. Fighting against reality is folly. My more recent OBE had to do with a novel that had to be returned to the library, and it was a slow read, so I took a couple of days off and got nothing done. It was a fiction binge, so I acknowledged it, and went back to eating right. I feel incredibly fortunate to have seldom been beset by overwhelming events related to health, family, and the like.

    • Congratulations on sending the chapter!!! Woohoo!

      You goals for easing in to the next stage of your project seem like a great way to go. It can be hard to move on to the next thing after a big push.

    • Yay! Congratulations! I am so looking forward to getting my own mental clutter out of the way when the current Thing gets sent out; it gives me hope to know you got your piece submitted. Celebrate a bit!

  5. Goal:

    1/2 hour MWTHF, working on the article.

    Accomplished:
    Nothing on article.
    I did manage to make some progress on what’s left of my spring semester service responsibilities.

    Analysis:
    My recent OBE has been the version involving lethargy, procrastination, time slipping away. I didn’t even realize till I reread the post that all that counted as OBE when it comes to the question of getting back on track.

    The intense procrastination was uncomfortably familiar. I’ve been here before, most recently during the first part of the spring writing group. I am going to try the some of the strategies that helped me then, including medication changes and getting myself to bed early enough.

    Next Goal:
    1 hour on Tuesday, Thursday. 1/2 hour on Friday.

    Next Check In: next week

    • Sometimes that lethargy, procrastination, etc. is a response to OBE, and sometimes it creates the OBE. It’s good that you’re able to be proactive about getting back on track and doing things that help you work well.

      • Lethargy and procrastination, for me, often come when I feel overwhelmed. Reinterpreting amstr a little, sometimes that’s because I’m genuinely overwhelmed (any impartial observer would say I have too much to do) and sometimes because I just feel that way, which tends to be because I haven’t been sleeping well or am dealing with some emotional situation (for example). So it’s good to have a set of things that you can do to help, depending on whether you think you’re dealing with effect or cause.

  6. Goal: finaishing a a draft.
    Accomplished: a half of it.
    Analysis: because of the conference I am preparing for, I have to have one week off, and I planned to make-up classes before my trip. This means extra teaching just before the conference – the busiest week for a person like me who get paniced suddenly realising only a week left before the presentation. I had expected that my draft would have been finished and revised, so I would be able to concentrate on my make-up classes and trip preparation in the week before the conference. I was stupid to make such a optimistic plan.
    Next goal: reflecting my presentation; making a working plan of July- November.

    I feel I am always surrounded by something overwhelming, and I usually easily get overwhelmed and put off my writing. What I have been trying to do is at least think of my writing project even when I am so busy and have no time to write for a while. I keep research journal, and I try to write something related to my project, even if it is only a memo-thing, for example, the name of a book I read before and suddenly I realised that it might help my project, and so on.

    • Wow–sounds busy! I think there’s always a balance between being optimistic and being realistic. When I underplan, it’s easy to quit after I get the list done when I really have time to do more. But erring on the side of optimism can get me into trouble too. I hope the conference goes well.

    • I think your strategy of making quick notes in your research journal is an excellent one! It does keep your mind on your project, and those notes may turn out to be very helpful later on. Optimism is also a frame of mind to cultivate, I think, though it should be accompanied by plans for not-so-good-case scenarios if it turns out you were overly optimistic. Good luck with the extra teaching and with the conference.

  7. 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.

    Accomplished: Worked a bit on the rough draft of findings; no reading done whatsoever. I did write a nonacademic chapter and submitted an abstract this week.

    Analysis: I realized two things this week: 1) I procrastinate with work and 2) I avoid reading for writing. I always have projects going on and new ones can pop up quickly. I’m not usually someone who procrastinates by surfing the internets or watching TV but I will choose a different work project, especially a different writing project, to procrastinate doing the writing work that I’m supposed to do. This way I feel good that I’m getting things done but it takes a long time to get a piece finalized. This week I was really procrastinating the reading I need to do. I actually have 5 writing projects that need some serious reading. What’s strange is that I really enjoy reading and I have all of these great books and articles already picked out and sitting on my desk. Other people describe how hard it is to get themselves to sit down and write and many people will continue to read to avoid writing. I’m the exact opposite.

    Goals for next week: Continue to work on rough draft of findings; read for at least one of my 5 writing projects.

    OBE: I think most of my OBE is related to what I wrote above in analysis. I’m always willing to grab a new project or start writing something new that I end up overwhelmed. While switching back and forth between 2 or 3 projects works well for me, when it is up to 5 or 6 writing projects it takes to long to move forward on any one. I’ve been trying hard not to start new projects but the ideas keep coming. I’m not sure what works. I’m thinking of trying self-imposed deadlines for two projects at a time but I’m not sure if that will actually cure me.

    • Your OBE comment sounds so familiar. I have the same problem. Too many great ideas and projects. I had not given much thought to the why — too OBE, I guess. But I can see how it can be a form of procrastination.

    • Can you write down the ideas somewhere–like an idea journal–so you don’t lose the great thoughts but get them temporarily out of your head so you can focus? I’ve been experimenting with this myself actually, because I worry if I don’t put the idea somewhere I’ll forget it!

  8. Goal: Finish revisions and check formatting and citations

    Accomplished: Not enough. The revisions continue

    Next week’s goals: 1). Continue to work on revisions on the article. I must have this submitted no later than July 14 (personal goal). 2). Trek to the archives to resolve the problem with article #2.

    Analysis: Definitely OBE. Too many projects, too many tasks.

    I’ve managed to get a lot of work done so far this summer, but I’m juggling three writing projects in various stages. The current project is in the revision stage. I have another that’s stalled until I can visit the archives. The third is in process until the publisher finishes the next step (contract). All good stuff, but not one project is at a point where I can check it off the big list.

    I’m also working on course planning for the two courses I’m teaching in the fall. One is my teaching area and the other is an intro course for undergraduate majors. I’ve taught both before though it’s been at least a year since teaching either one. I’m revising both courses somewhat. I’m not planning any major changes to the intro course since I rarely teaching that course any more.

    Adding to the frustration is a service project that has morphed into more than I expected.

    And then there is the chaos that is home right now. We are remodeling one of the bathrooms in our house. We have another fully functioning bathroom, but the construction zone (though somewhat out of sight) is still a disruptive force.

    Last week I had a sort of mini meltdown. Just frustrated because there are SO MANY projects going on and not reaching any point of conclusion though I know that progress is being made. I think some of the frustration — other than the lack of completion — may be a lack of vacation. I have not really taken any time off this summer, just trying to push through to finish these projects. So hubby and I looked at the calendar and created some time off for a road trip. Just the two of us. I’m suffering a bit from family guilt — we should go visit family, but I’m trying hard to stamp out that guilt. Hubby and I have not had a vacation just us in far too long so for a few glorious days later this month, we’re going to do just that. Planning a getaway helped me re-energize this weekend.

  9. 1) Goals: Work on EOCP / writing for 2 hours on “free days.”
    2) Accomplished: Did binge work on Saturday on another paper, sent it off (4th author only); worked on EOCP only 1 day. Also did an article review and more committee work.
    3) Analysis: Though I felt the goal was just saying what work was “necessary,” I’m not sure if it actually helped me do more work. I am falling into my usual pattern of binge work on overdue things. I also received very frustrating news this week that I didn’t get an important grant (very very nearly did, and my dept. chair is not very happy about it either, not good). That focused me for a while– made me think more long-term about what I need to publish in order to be successful in my next try. But now, a few days later, had almost forgotten about it again. Will write it down and keep trying.

    4) Goals for next week: Let’s see. Shall I try a random goal that I think I can actually meet, just so I can finally stop reporting failures every week? 🙂 (most weeks.) Goal: Work on EOCP once during week.

    Ho ho. The OBE prompt is just amusing since that’s what has happened to me the last two weeks. I was going to report that I had no idea how to deal with it, but I suppose that in fact what usually happens is that pressure builds up until I release it by doing binge work. But that’s not a plan, it’s just a happening. I haven’t read others’ comments yet and hope to find enlightenment!

  10. Last goal: keep trying to finish the draft.
    Accomplished: 2100 words of notes on a couple of different books; separating out some problematic paragraphs so I can do a “what I have/what I need” list on them.
    Analysis: I made up a list of “research tasks” assigned to each day for the first couple of weeks that I’m Over Here. I did well for several days. Thursday there was Remote Drama that was distracting, though I forced myself through some minimum work. Because I’m having trouble with a particular chunk of the essay, I’m somewhat behind my schedule now. So I need to recalibrate. Still, I’m hopeful that as a lot of the first-week settling-in stuff is now behind me, I can get into a good, productive rhythm.
    New Goal: Sort out the problematic discussion; finish the rough draft; start grooming the draft.

    OBE: sometimes I think I spend more time OBE than not. I sabotage myself by adopting cats; my body sabotages me by getting sick or injured; other people elect me to committees, ask me for recommendations of one sort or another (just got asked to do a tenure letter, for example), or expect my presence at assorted meetings and get-togethers. I think it’s important to face the OBE squarely and figure out just how much time/energy dealing with the E is going to take—don’t just blithely think “I’ll work every minute I’m awake and it will be fine!” You can’t really work every minute you’re awake. Leave time for meals and exercise. Triage and do the most urgent things. The others will go away or get done in their own good time. Both meditation and medication can be helpful (if only I could write that in a Gothic hand where c/t look exactly alike, I could use a single word). At the moment I am in an excellent position to work lots and lots, but I’m also struggling with guilt because Sir John is going a little crazy at home with the cats and their problems and his normal full-time job (telecommuting much of the time, at least, but still . . .) so I tend to feel that I must work all the time so there’s something to show for my time here. But it’s useful to see both what I can do without the distractions of home, and how distracting those distractions regularly are. At this point, I should probably take this over to my own blog before the comment gets much longer.

    • I like what you say about what you’re seeing in your life now that you’re able to step away for a bit. I need to re-do my list. A while back I made a list of all the things I’m committed to or want to do, and then I divided them into “essential,” “important,” “nice to do,” and “maybe someday.” It helped to prioritize, so I know what to choose when I have competing priorities. In the moment, I often choose what sounds more urgent, but is actually less important.

      • Amstr, that’s a great tip for prioritizing the overwhelm! I think I’ll give it a try too.

  11. Yikes, I was so travel-and-conference slammed I forgot about checking in before now!

    1. writing for 5 or 6 hours

    2. Accomplished while on the plane both directions, but not so great since then.

    3. Analysis: I didn’t expect to be so affected by a three-hour time zone change or a red-eye flight, but I was wrong. The conference was for the day job, thus not as invigorating as those in my discipline. However, it was waking at my usual time, which on the West Coast was 3am, that was flattening me.

    There is a lot going on with my children and my parents and mother-in-law (welcome to the Squeeze generation). Both situations are taking a lot of starch out of me. Like Dame Eleanor, I need to recalibrate.

    4. An hour four days a week.

    OBE is a very timely topic for me. I initially (and mistakenly) wrote for number 4 “an hour a week.” Freudian slip, methinks. I can recognize my signs of OBE: I start spending time playing stupid computer games, or watching marathons of some television show on Netflix that is only marginally entertaining and never instructive.

    I find that I have to get away from the television or computer; at the day job, I have to leave the building, or I will wander the stacks with a magpie eye and come back to my cubicle with five more projects. In that, I can relate to Tracy and NWGirl.

    I also try to be kinder to myself. I keep a massive to-do list, organized by color, part of which I transfer to the next day every evening. The days I am overwhelmed, I just put the things that are impediments to regular life–car repairs and the like. It helps not to beat myself up about the rest of the list, although I do worry when it continues too long.

    • I like the “magpie eye.” I think I might have that problem as well, but I’m rarely in a library, and then only my little local one that gets me all the books I need by Interlibrary Loan (such a great invention!).

      • Ah, yes, I love Interlibrary Loan. Several friends think it would be so wonderful to work in a large research university library, but sometimes it is a curse for magpies like me (us). I have checked out an embarrassing number of books, but at least I leave them at work

      • I love interlibrary loan, but I agree it can be a curse too. Hubby teases me about having my own personal branch of the university library.

        I’ve always been bad about books and libraries — checking out lots and lots of books. I came from a family of readers. I learned to write my name at four because that was the only requirement to receive a public library card. My poor mother was so embarrassed when it took me five trips to get all of my books to the checkout desk!! She had to explain that I did not need to check out ALL of the library’s books in one day. In first grade, I got in trouble with the teacher because I had so many school library books in my desk that the top would not close. I’ve always been a book hoarder.

        So, yes, ILL is a good thing but it can be a curse.

  12. Goal: WYJA week 3

    Accomplished: I read articles for several hours. And took notes.

    Analysis: I keep putting WYJA Week 3, but I really should be breaking that down into smaller goals because Week 3 is going to (obviously) take me a lot longer! Since I haven’t looked at the literature in four years, I have a good amount to go back and read in order to frame my article more currently/appropriately. I am also dealing with some morning sickness (yay!) and that is making my plan of working first thing a bit trickier to accomplish since some mornings all I want to do is just lay flat somewhere.

    Next Goal: I have one more set of articles to read and take notes on before I can get back to the main focus of week 3, so my goal is to read the last set of articles.

    OBE: When I was writing my dissertation proposal I ended up accepting a job as a full-time high school Spanish teacher. That entire year was one big OBE and I spent a grand total of 1 day that year working on my proposal. The best decision I made was to quit after the school year was over and just focus on my proposal, proposal defense, IRB, participant recruitment, and then I started data collection before I took another job. In total I was off for an entire year, which was awesome. That’s a big OBE example. And it was such a luxury to be able to just quit. I know that’s not feasible most of the time.

    • Congrats on progress, and on morning sickness! (except for the sickness part–that part sucks). FYI–it sounds like a lot of what you’re doing in your Week 3 will make your life easier in Week 5. That’s the week I tend to spread over a month or so.

      Your OBE example is a good reminder that sometimes choices that look odd from the outside actually make it possible for you to reach your goals. A writer acquaintance had a sweet gig as permanent non-tenured faculty at a state school, and she quit because it was keeping her from meeting her writing goals. Lots of folks thought she was crazy, because she was giving up what everyone else coveted, but it wasn’t helping her.

      And then there’s this NYT Opinion piece that’s been making the rounds this week: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?smid=fb-share

  13. Goal: Write. 1 page. Read: 1 chapter. Apply to two jobs.

    Accomplished: Applied to 2 jobs, write 1 page, no project related reading.

    Analysis: I have no good reason why I’m putting off the reading other than fear. I was cruising on this project in the winter and then some life events impacted me in an unexpected way and all my proejcts came to a screeching halt. Somehow I developed this fear if I get really into my book again something painful will happen again (the event was pretty traumatic for both me and my husband this year, but seemed to hit me the worst) and derail my project..and me. It’s not entirely logical I know and I really haven’t figure this out—and I’ve also never had a long term writing project before. I cranked out my thesis in record time to get it done and I’ve done the same with academic pieces.

    For the moment I’ve set up a little project board for myself–where I can check off any working out I’ve done for the week and I want to keep track of my writing progress on there too. I think it would benefit to see something physical that says what I’ve done–a confidence boost I’m hoping. This will be the first week really trying that. My husband keeps asking me to be easier on myself and to just allow myself to do a little every day, and not worry about other things–household chores, job and money stuff, etc. Easier said than done.

    New goal: still keeping the goal low–write 1 page, read 1 chapter and apply for 1 job (just got posted yesterday!)

    • Sorry to hear about your hard winter. I can see how it would be really hard to get back into a project after such an event. I think your small goals are a wise way to go. Little bits of progress can boost your confidence. I find that giving myself an out helps too–e.g., I commit to reading for 10 minutes a day, and if it’s not working for me that day, I can quit. If it’s going okay, I can keep going for as long as I want to. The important thing–and what you’re doing–is to keep trying to come back to it.

      • having outs sounds like a good idea, thanks! This whole project is new to me to begin with so I feel like I’m learning so much about myself with trying to figure out how to approach my writing in general, as well as in terms of what’s going on in life. Thank goodness for writing groups too!! 🙂

    • I hear you on the fear of jumping back in. For awhile, some years back, it seemed like every time I got well into a project, something awful happened, usually involving my mother’s illness but sometimes other things, and I got very anxious about writing projects because I felt that they somehow invited the awful things. Low, achievable goals (tiny goals that won’t tempt the monsters!) sound like they should help.

      • Thanks DEH! I have a reputation for being a *touch* superstitious so while my husband’s is all “your book and awful things aren’t related,” my mind is going, “Yes they are!! Look!!” It’s nice to know I’m not alone in having those feelings.

  14. 1. I didn’t check in last week, but I think my goal the week before was to finish a primary source and write notes and quotes.

    2. I read a few pages during jury duty, but that’s it.

    3. Sorry for missing last week. We were on the road, and I thought I’d have time to check in from a hotel, but I was mistaken. As such, this week’s topic is apt! We are on our regular summer road trip to Colorado. This time, during the road trip, we’re also parking the car at the airport (tomorrow) and heading back East for 10 days to see some of my family. Then we return to CO and finish our road trip travel loop. The whole production will take about five weeks.

    I love our trips, but it is really difficult to carve out work time. So far, I haven’t succeeded at all. Daily, I am OBE. I think this will get even harder while I’m with my own family back East. When I’m with people I haven’t seen in a long time, it feels really rude to disappear for a few hours. And at the end of a busy day of family activities, I just want to watch House Hunters International with Hubby and then get in bed with a novel. The daily extrovsion wears me out (plus, we don’t have cable at home and love to binge on HHI when traveling).

    4. This week, I might be able to get in some evening reading, but I’m not counting my chickens, so I’m just going to say that I probably won’t get anything done this week. But since it might be two weeks before check in, I’ll say that my goal is to finish the primary source novel.

    5. I might be able to check in next week, but I might not, do I’ll plan for two weeks from now–the weekend of the 14th.. In the meantime, I want to catch up on everyone else’s comments.

    • Working while traveling is hard! Can you work out some morning time? Even half an hour?

      And don’t feel bad about taking an hour away if it will be refreshing for you–you’ll be better able to visit with a bit of time away, and you’ll be able to jump back in on your return instead of needing a week or so of vacation from your vacation. In our family (of almost all introverts), we have a lot of “I need some alone time” happening. It’s become a sort of code.

      I hear you about the evening down time. I’m having trouble working in the evenings, and I’m just having normal life happen (though summer schedule does throw me for a loop–kids around all the time, lots of swimming, etc.)

      I hope the rest of the trip goes well!

  15. Goal: Keep reading a paper a day

    Accomplished: YES! I did at least one paper a day last week and some days more. I even got a little bit of writing done too.

    Analysis: Small goals seems to be the key. Meeting those goals is easy and reinforcing!

    Next Goal: I have other responsibilities this next week so I don’t think I’ll get much done. I hope to read at least 2 more papers this week.

    OBE: A timely question. I think the key for me will be to make good notes about where I am with my work so that when I can get back to it I know what I was doing.

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