Perfection (Summer Writing Group, Week 11)

I’m a terrible perfectionist.* The worst kind. I find the desire for perfection so great and the prospect of perfection so distant that I seize up and end up feeling lazy. Then I panic. My perfectionism causes all sorts of problems for my writing, but it can help as well. My attention to detail makes me a better editor and proofreader, for instance. (And here’s where I cross my fingers that I haven’t left any typos in this post.) But to really make progress in my writing, I have to fool myself out of my perfectionistic tendencies and only allow them space at certain times in the writing process.

Does perfectionism play a role in your writing? Is it a help? A hindrance? A monster you need to tame? What are your strategies for handling and using perfectionism? If you don’t tend toward perfectionism, what benefits do you gain? Would perfectionism be useful at all?

*I got to thinking about this topic because of a post at Study Hacks this week.

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As usual, please check in by noon Monday, but feel free to continue the conversation beyond then. 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.

Here you go:

Amstr [complete dissertation draft]: 1) type of Ch. 3 revisions and fix the 9 things left, 2) draft half of Ch. 1 (cutting and pasting lots), 3) do research on three areas of Ch. 1, 4) work at work time + 2 evenings
Becky
[journal article]: ?
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work]: Continue progress on the J article; prepare and give P project presentation; plan and conduct a day of P-project archival research (and network with people at the presentation); do some preliminary research/writing for the next 2 freelance pieces (but concentrate mainly on J, P, and household/financial projects). (next check-in 8/3)
Daisy
[finish thesis]: make a list of everything that each paper still needs, and pick something every day and do it. And up the 2 hours of writing to 4.
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: print out, proofread and polish the companion-essay, and submit it. Return to the MMP, see where I am with it, make a plan, and carry out some part of that plan. Spend at least 2 hours on the translation project.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[book chapter proposal; writing 4 days/week]: Write an hour and a half four days a week.
emmawriting
[EOCP full draft sent to collaborator, MC paper results section done, MUL data collected, MC5 fully prepped]: EOCP: Outline Discussion; Continue to review articles, & write notecards or brief summaries to put into Intro draft; write some draft sections of Intro, at least 1 paragraph. MCP: Finish draft writeup of MC3, figure out problem. Analyze MC 4
GEW [short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: Finish reading the article.
humming42
[complete book MS]: work at least a half hour each day on the manuscript and on one of the September projects.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: write a conference abstract and a four page Application For Workshop Session (next check-in 7/27 or 8/3)
jenk
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]: ? 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results. (Reminder to self to have something to show the adviser at the beginning of next week.)
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: ? Finish WYJA week 3, start week 4
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1/2 hour editing on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: new plan to November and a few years ahead/an article proposal
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Submit article #1 to selected journal. Work on structure for article #2. And start on class prep.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Continue with 10 min a day of writing.
Sapience
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: finish this round of proofreading in preparation for sending the whole thing off to someone else for a good look (next check-in 7/27).
tracynicolerose
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]: Look at the data for the TS findings; read for the LM paper
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: ???

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Reading and Writing (Summer Writing Group, Week 10)

This is a writing group, but academic writing requires reading. I haven’t been reading much lately because I’ve been pushing to finish some drafts. One chapter in particular is feeling stale, and I feel like I need an injection of scholarly talk about my subject to remind me of how to think about it with complexity. Reading is definitely in my future.

How does reading fit into your writing life? Do you write first and read later? Do both at the same time? Read first, then write? Do you read quickly? Slowly? Are there moments when you know you need to stop reading? Or start reading?

Please check in by noon on Monday: 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 draft]: 1) 18 final pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) proofread Ch. 2 and send to advisor, 3) re-read article version of Ch. 1, outline, make a list of things to research, attempt to write a bad introduction, 4) use work time well and work 2 evenings.
Becky
[journal article]: Keep reading. At least one paper a day.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work]: reacquaint myself with the J article-in-progress (begun); re-read J sources; start writing. Finish another freelance piece.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: ? write 2 hours every day
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: polished draft with notes and formatted to journal style, printed out for final proofreading before submission.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[book chapter proposal; writing 4 days/week]:  Write an hour and a half four days a week.
emmawriting
[ EOCP full draft sent to collaborator, MC paper results section done, MUL data collected, MC5 fully prepped]: EOCP: 1st paragraph of Discussion, look up & skim new articles for Intro topics; MCP paper: MC3 write-up finishing, Analyze MC2 and write-up or collect more data, prepare for MC1 analysis; MUL: Look up manipulations, prep for data-collection help; and some teaching/committee work.
GEW
[short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: Read and annotate one article that I’ve been itching to look at.
humming42
[complete book MS]: chapter 2 fully organized (next check in: 7/20)
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: complete some refereeing, write research plans for my summer students and for the next piece of fieldwork, and make progress on at least two of the items in the last list (next check in: 7/20 or 8/3)
jenk
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]: 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results. (Reminder to self to have something to show the adviser at the beginning of next week.)
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: Finish WYJA week 3, start week 4
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1 hour MWThF; get through the editing for organization. Get to bed on time. This probably means avoiding the computer after dinner.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: finalizing my new plan to November; writing up my presentation report.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: 1) Finish revisions on article #1, 2) Work on structure of article #2
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]:  Read 1 chapter. Try again with the 10 min a day writing. (Starting Tuesday). unpack.
Sapience
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: finish this round of proofreading in preparation for sending the whole thing off to someone else for a good look (possibly 7/20 or 27).
tracynicolerose
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]: Continue reading for LM; start reading for another paper; look at the data for the TS findings; finish the analysis memo for the BE paper.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: ?? Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA.

Seeking Help (Summer Writing Group, Week 9)

I find in my writing that I wait way too long to ask others for help. I get mired in my stuck-ness and forget that I have friends and colleagues who would be happy to lend an ear or a readerly eye. At times I’ve gone weeks before I’ve reached out to other writers. They might offer some constructive feedback, encourage me with a cheery “keep going!”; whatever help they give, it’s always gotten me unstuck. Sometimes just asking for help makes all the difference. Last week I made it all the way to panic on Friday, managed to convince myself to send what I had off to my writing partner that afternoon, and on Saturday I had a productive writing session. I clearly need to learn to shorten the time between when I start to be stuck and when I ask for help. What’s your strategy?

What triggers you to ask for help? Who do you ask for help? What kind of help do you ask for?

Feel free to give us your mid-summer assessment in your comment this week, if you didn’t get a chance to last week. If you’re revising your summer goal, please check what’s listed next to your name and update it in your comment (see below).

Check in by noon Monday: 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. 6) optional Revised summer goal (please make it succinct so I can cut and paste it into the list)

Here’s what you said you’d try to do this week:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 1) 15 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft, 3) re-read article version of Ch. 1, outline, make a list of things to research, 4) use work time to work, and work 2 evenings.
Becky
[journal article]:  Figure out how to explain this last set of results. I will do this by continuing to read at least 2 papers a day.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work.]: research and write current freelance piece, keeping good track of hours spent and observing work patterns.
Daisy
[finish thesis]: write 2 hours every day
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: polished draft with notes and formatted to journal style, printed out for final proofreading before submission.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: Writing an hour and a half a day four times a week. Assess and tweak goals for the rest of the summer.
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: finishing-up of EOCP results, analysis of one MC study, and planning of the last MC study; grade two student theses.
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: finish the primary source novel. (next check in: 7/13)
humming42
[complete book MS]: chapter 2 fully organized (next check in: 7/20)
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
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]: 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: Read one article, write-out my argument(s) and evidence
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1/2 Monday; 1 hour Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: reflecting my presentation, making a working plan for this July ~ November.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: 1). Finish revisions on article #1, 2). Work on structure of article #2
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Write for 10 minutes (min) on Mon-Thur. Research 2 job posting to decide on applying.
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: avoid the libraries, revise/proofread at least one chapter of the diss.
tracynicolerose
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]: Continue reading for LM paper, go back to the data for the TS paper so I can continue with findings section; write analysis memo for BE paper.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: ? Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA.

Mid-summer Assessment (Summer Writing Group, Week 8)

We’re halfway! And so it seems an appropriate time to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished so far this summer and what we still have left to do. You might find you’ve done more than you thought you would. If so, have a little party! Or you might be right on track. Again, some sort of celebration is in order. You might be behind where you wanted to be. Reward yourself for what you have done this summer.

And then its time for all of us to get real about what the rest of the summer holds. Are your current goals realistic? Optimistic? Too optimistic? Defeating? What do you need to get done this summer, and what can you postpone if you won’t have the time to finish?

Give us the rundown–what have you accomplished? What’s your updated summer goal? Will you need to make any changes in your work patterns to be able to meet your goal?

Check in by noon Monday: 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.

Here’s what you wanted to do this week:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 1) tackle 2 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft.
Becky
[journal article]: read at least 2 more papers this week.
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]: Sort out the problematic discussion; finish the rough draft; start grooming the draft.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: An hour four days a week.
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Work on EOCP once during week.
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: finish the primary source novel. (next check in: 7/13)
humming42
[complete book MS]: mark up the preliminary material and have an idea of the major sections for Chapter 2.
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]: Get at least half of my pieces of data made into figures (with legends). Start writing results.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]:  read the last set of articles.
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1 hour on Tuesday, Thursday. 1/2 hour on Friday.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: reflecting my presentation; making a working plan of July- November.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: 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.
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ??
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: write 1 page, read 1 chapter and apply for 1 job
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: write at least 400 words a day. Can be blog posts, notes, or actual revisions on the diss.
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: Continue to work on rough draft of findings; read for at least one of my 5 writing projects.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: ? Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA.