Fall approacheth (Summer Writing Group, Week 13)

Lots of people here are beginning prep for fall classes. And some of our members have started thinking about what their writing schedule will look like. Mathilda has begun working on a writing plan. humming42 is starting work on an additional project that can be a main focus in the fall. Contingent Cassandra is already attempting to move into a fall writing schedule to prepare and start habits now. What do you need to do to prepare for writing this fall? How can you maintain some good habits you’ve established this summer? What habits do you need to modify as you enter a new season of writing?

Speaking of thinking ahead to fall, I would love to see this group keep going! (I sure need the accountability.) For the summer group, we’ll have two more check in days after today (Week 14 will be normal, Week 15 will be to report your final progress and overall progress). In this spirit of this collaborative group, I’d be happy to pass off the hosting responsibilities to someone else. If you would like to host this group in the fall, make note in your comment.

Please 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 next week.

The work:

Amstr [complete dissertation draft]: 1) actually send Ch.3 and intro; 2) make progress on Ch. 1 expansion (aim for halfway +), 3) work well, incl. 2 evenings, starting with an easy task each day.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work]: Make progress on the J article during 2 short and one longer first-thing-in-the-morning sessions (probably Tu/F/Sa); Finish a draft of the teaching statement for the promotion portfolio (M/W/Th?) and work on preparing course materials for both portfolio and coming semester; write freelance piece (do a bit each day).
[finish thesis]: get something off the list every day, and try for 4 hours of writing time.
[finish and submit MMP and article]: catch up with the translation work
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[book chapter proposal; writing 4 days/week]: spend two hours a day plugging holes in the two articles.
[ EOCP full draft sent to collaborator, MC paper results section done, MUL data collected, MC5 fully prepped]: ? Goal 1: grade papers in less than 30 minutes per paper; Goal 2: Be sure to do SOMETHING to push forward writing on Thursday and Friday after grade deadline.
[short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: Read two book chapters, write 500 words for diss chapter five.
[complete book MS]: 30 minutes a day on the August project + 30 minutes a day on another research project
[chip away at writing backlog]: develop a plan for the rest of the summer for my writing.
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]: ? 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results.
[rough draft of journal article]:  Continue on weeks 3 and 4, work two weekdays this week, in addition to the weekend.
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1/2 hour TWThF
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: making a plan and starting to write a research review article, writing research review part of my presentation.
[revise 2 papers for publication]: ? Structure for article#2.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: ? 10 min a day of ‘writing activity’–writing, editing, reviewing previous drafts, etc.–, continued, except Thursday
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: simply surviving
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]:  ? Slog through the TS reports I ran; 2nd level memo on the BS data; read for the LM paper.


64 thoughts on “Fall approacheth (Summer Writing Group, Week 13)

  1. Sorry…I needed to take a health break and I pretty much dropped everything–blogs, emails, etc, and checking in here, to do that. It was beneficial though. I didn’t expect to drop off for a week so I didn’t say I’d be checking in after two weeks…sorry again.

    Goal: Writing for 10 min.
    Accomplished: Not so much. The health break will help with moving forward I think, and yesterday I wrote for a half hour and was happy with it. It felt good. I also picked up a book that I didn’t expect to help me but has, so that was nice to uncover.
    Analysis: well…you gotta listen to your mind/body and actually take care of yourself. I’ve not been good at that and have been learning to give myself permission to do exactly that. Permission–that’s what I’ve been getting hung up on. I’ve also been working on allowing myself to write about what I apparently need to be writing on, which hasn’t been my book project, but other things that have been getting in my way, mentally. Any writing is still workin on writing, right?
    New goal: Finish book I started, order book I’ve been meaning to order for weeks for research purposes, Write 3 times for however long feels comfortable.

    Class prep..Earlier this week I looked at my planner and realized I only have about three weeks to get it together. I’ve only got one class and I’ve taught it a few times. Last semester this course really came together for me–book, lessons, order of topics, so even though I’m at a different school and need to modify some assignments, I have a very solid base. And this semester it’ll be mostly seniors, which will be nice. Mainly I need to make the semester schedule, double check my plans for the first two weeks, and get the syllabus done. I’m not sure how I’ll maintain habits until I figure out how I want to organize my schedule. I need some built in flexibility because husband’s work schedule is different every week.

  2. I too missed checking in last week. Sorry about that!

    Goals: 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results.

    Accomplished: No writing.

    Analysis: Experiments are taking longer than hoped for (which always happens). I’m getting a lot of pressure from advisers and collaborators to produce data so all of my working time is with experiments. I’m hoping to actually get publishable results soon so that I can fit a little more writing/figure making into my schedule, but right now I’m having a hard time fitting the experiments into a day that includes meals, sleep, and a little bit of time with the hubby.

    Goal for next week: 20 min thinking about/working on one of the papers

    For the fall, I should only be writing. Seeing the variety of ways that all of you have set goals is going to be helpful to me as I set weekly (or even daily) goals to get the papers and the thesis written. If there is a writing group in the fall, I’d love to be a part of it!

    • I hope those experiments move along quickly! I’m sure that even little bits of thinking about the papers or writing will add up and help the transition into only writing go a lot more smoothly.

  3. Goal: Make progress on the J article during 2 short and one longer first-thing-in-the-morning sessions (probably Tu/F/Sa); Finish a draft of the teaching statement for the promotion portfolio (M/W/Th?) and work on preparing course materials for both portfolio and coming semester; write freelance piece (do a bit each day).

    Accomplished: Made progress on the J article during 2 quite short first-thing-in-the-morning sessions (deliberately dropped the third); completed a very rough but workable draft of the teaching statement; made good progress on pulling together materials for portfolio; wrote the freelance piece. Did not do anything substantial toward preparing for the coming semester.

    Analysis: There was a bit of OBE in the form of feeling sick (really bad cramps, not the norm for me, though coming down with some sort of distracting , probably stress-related musculoskeletal issue as the fall semester approaches does seem to be an emerging pattern, so maybe — I hope, since it passed fairly quickly — this was this year’s). The amount of time putting the promotion package together is taking is really frustrating, especially since there’s little to no real payoff (it’s a promotion in title only, and the idea of a non-tenure-track associate professor strikes me as something of an oxymoron anyway). Fortunately I have a colleague in the same boat with whom I can commiserate, and compare notes on how to organize the ridiculous amount of material for which we’ve been asked (since we teach twice as many sections as our tenure-track colleagues, many of them repetitions of the same few core courses, and since this process is fairly new, we’re not sure they realized quite what they’d be getting when they asked for copies of every syllabus, and provided very little opportunity for framing). I’d say that the portfolio, rather than the J article or the freelance writing, has taken time that I would usually allot to fall course prep, which is, of course, counterproductive and increases my overall frustration level. Still, I’m feeling good about the solutions to the problem I’ve devised, and about the teaching statement (which might even come in handy if/when I go on the market again), so it’s not entirely wasted effort.

    On a more cheerful note, I seem to be at a point where I can make progress on the J article in relatively short (1-1.5-hour) periods of time. I think that’s probably a function of the stage I’m in (full outline/brainstorming completed, with a sense of what primary materials I want to cite/analyze in each section; I just need to do the analysis and keep figuring out the paragraph-to-paragraph structure in the process). I’ve now completed the body, and have only the conclusion and the latter part of the introduction to go to get to a definitely rough but complete draft (but, realistically, I’m think I’m only going to get the conclusion done by 8/24; for various reasons, this isn’t the year to ignore other things in order to try to get the summer writing project done exactly at the end of the summer, so the new goal for the summer is to finish all of the J article draft but the latter part of the introduction .

    The freelance work continues to chug along. It’s time-consuming, but worth it, both in terms of the immediate monetary payoff, and because it’s got me thinking of other writing projects for a popular (read: paying) audience I might consider, and that strikes me as a good direction to be heading. I am happier thinking about myself as a writer than as a teacher (though the latter is mostly because of the larger institutional context of my job and where it seems to be going — or not — not because of the teaching itself, at least as it presently works).

    And I seem to be making a little bit of progress on getting back into an exercise routine (though that is not without its aches and pains and, at this stage, increased tiredness; however, I know from past experience that the payoff in increased energy, stress relief, and general wellbeing will be well worth it).

    Next week is going to be odd (so much for getting into a schedule): half will be devoted to getting the portfolio and at least a bit of teaching prep done, and half to taking a 4-day weekend (which I was planning already, but this week’s health/stress interruptions confirmed for me I really do need). I’m actually going to let the J article sit, since it is currently, to use a metaphor of amstr’s I’m finding very useful, parked on a downhill slope. So I won’t be checking in next weekend. I hope to finish a rough draft of the J article conclusion during the following week. So,

    Goal (for the next two weeks): Finish J article conclusion; finish teaching statement and other portfolio materials; finish up a few long-neglected P project to-dos; finish course materials for one course and make a good start on materials for the second. Also take a break and keep exercising.

    Next Check-In: Aug. 24-26.

    More thoughts on preparing for the fall later; I need to head to church.

    • I’m still amazed by how much you have on your plate! But it’s great that you have been squeezing in exercise. I have been trying to do the same. I hope you have a great long weekend!

      • Whew! That’s a lot to accomplish in one week!

        I wish I could take credit for the “parking on a downhill slope” idea. I think it popped up in another iteration of this writing group, or I read it on a blog somewhere. It always reminds me of the months of high school when my car didn’t have a starter in it, and my brother would have to push the car around the parking lot for me to pop out the clutch and get it started EVERY DAY! Then at home, we did literally have to park it heading downhill to get it started at all.

  4. Hi, not sure quite what happened to last week’s checkin. For some reason I’ve had a really hard time getting back into something like a routine after my recent fieldwork, possibly because I HAD to get straight back onto campus to train and supervise a group of summer students, so didn’t get a few days at home to wiggle back into my usual life before I had to deal with people.

    goal: make a plan for the rest of the summer

    achieved: I have a list of things that need doing, but I don’t have a proper plan. My mind shies away from it – it makes it all too clear that there is Too Much To Do in the time that is left, and that Teaching Is Coming! (I actually rather like teaching, but I also like writing, and not having too many colleagues around the place…).

    I also had my yearly REF-progress meeting, where I got an overall satisfactory response from the senior colleagues running the session, along with instructions to ‘get another 4* paper out by Christmas’ (that is a paper which exhibits “Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.”). Yeah, I have one here, just hidden in my hat… sigh.

    And I began work on a revise-and-resubmit, which started off as ‘I can polish this off in a couple of days’ writing sessions’ and mutated into ‘[swearwords of choice], I need to completely rewrite a significant chunk of this’. It will be better after the rewriting, but the rewriting is not easily fitted around the needs of summer students, research students and looming teaching prep (plus getting the house ‘parent-ready’ and ‘new semester ready’ from a state of ‘I’ve been going to deal with this next week since Autumn 2011’ with an overlay of ‘omg got to pack can’t find this can’t find that who cares if it looks like I was burgled’ on at least three separate occasions).

    analysis: Once again I didn’t allow enough time for re-entry into my life and work from fieldwork. Sometimes avoiding a task takes up more energy than the task would have taken, but I still avoid it. I really should go to bed early after a busy day/week, not stay up late ‘relaxing’ with mind-candy and a little junk food then sleeping late the next day – the latter wrecks any potential productivity. See, I KNOW all this stuff, but doing it just. doesn’t. happen. Not consistently. But it’s a new week, right?

    next week’s goal:hmmm. I have only got about half a week free for any work next week, and there are a lot of tasks… so, writing-wise, I aim to tackle that R&R (I’d like to draft the new version this week) and draft a job application letter (since I am selectively going on the market this year. Selectively, because there are good things about my job like the students and the low cost of living/short commute of the location, and on the market because there are bad things about my job like about half of my colleagues and 95% of the university administration…)

    preparing for fall: Something to plan next week. Although there are a few meetings in September, the new semester doesn’t begin until 24th Sept, so I am trying to leave teaching prep until the start of September as far as possible (summer only began mid-June for me, so don’t be too envious!)

    more writing group?: I too would love there to be more writing group. Because my semesters are out of whack with most North American unis, and because first semester is my busiest (heaviest teaching load), I wouldn’t be able to consistently host – although if anyone wants to CO-host one, I’d be up for that.

    • World-leading? No pressure there.

      And this: “Sometimes avoiding a task takes up more energy than the task would have taken, but I still avoid it. I really should go to bed early after a busy day/week, not stay up late ‘relaxing’ with mind-candy and a little junk food then sleeping late the next day – the latter wrecks any potential productivity. See, I KNOW all this stuff, but doing it just. doesn’t. happen. Not consistently. But it’s a new week, right?”

      I could have written that myself! I’m trying to just DO the work instead of avoiding it, but sometimes that would mean that I’d never sleep! Evening mind-candy (i.e., one episode of a show with mystery and humor) keeps me sane.

      • Yes, I try to remember that something I keep putting off like an assessment report only took me half an hour last year, and if I could just commit to it and stop procrastinating, I could cross that off my list. So with you on this one.

      • On the other hand, sometimes simple but tedious tasks take twice as long as we think they will (sorry; I spent all day working on assembling my promotion portfolio, which involves a lot of time-consuming, tedious work, and I’m grumpy; generally, I agree that procrastination often takes longer than just doing the thing. But I’ve been putting off updating my c.v. all summer, and today reminded me why: it’s a fiddly, frustrating task. I’d much rather be writing — and I suppose that realization/attitude is a positive development in and of itself).

  5. I want and need to continue research and writing once classes start. I have two new preps, and I’m hopeful that some of the material for those classes will feed back into thinking about my research. I have friends and colleagues who set aside one day of the week as holy for research, but I’m far better off to dabble every day. With hope, I can configure ways to do that, maybe finding a secret writing space on campus somewhere.

    The accountability of the group has been great for me, and I would be very happy to stay onboard.

    goal: 30 minutes on the August project + 30 minutes on the manuscript or one of the September projects each day.

    accomplished: I worked on the August project but not much on the September projects.

    analysis: Feeling overwhelmed by workload and then OBE when I encountered an unexpected health issue, I applied the marvelous “essential,” “important,” “nice to do,” and “maybe someday” assessment to my projects. One of the September projects is an essay that found a good match in an upcoming edited collection, but it’s somewhat evergreen project so it’s getting set aside.

    next goal: continue daily work on the August project and teaching prep, 30 minutes each.

  6. 1. Read two book chapters, write 500 words for diss chapter five.

    2. I read two chapters, but I didn’t write 500 words. I just got down a few notes . . .

    3. Things are heating up at work even though the semester hasn’t started yet. It’s back to “college crisis” mode. The re-entry into that has been difficult and annoying. The worst part of it? E-mail. The expectation is that those of us working on the crisis should check email regularly every day and evening. And people are trying to discuss complex and debatable problems through email threads–and it’s leading to confusion and MUCH WASTED TIME! I was already annoyed, and then yesterday took the cake. There were four people in the thread. A couple of them were debating some documents, and they didn’t even understand which documents the other was talking about. They thought they were discussing the same report, but they weren’t. And it wasted their time any mine. Sometimes e-mail is great, but last spring it just about drove me nuts, and I can see it happening again. More to the point, it’s leading to poor work quality.

    So this takes me to Fall: I don’t know. I think I might need to figure out some e-mail boundaries, but with our time-binding crisis, I’m not sure how I will do that. I’d also like to carve out thesis time, but I’m not sure when I will do that, either. I might be able to reserve an hour mid-day on Mondays, and I might be able to reserve an hour one morning a week. But I know what will happen, those mornings will come along, and I’ll be behind with grading and prep work, and I’ll have to get that stuff done. I’m glad Amstr raised this topic, but I need to think about it some more.

    This coming week is gnarly b/c I’m doing crisis-related report writing, and I have about 20 hours of meetings and training sessions I have to attend or host. It’s gonna suck. Next week, classes start. Are my syllabi finished? Not quite.

    4. Goals for this week: Figure out a work plan for fall and decide whether or not I’m going to make some e-mail rules for myself. Also, read one chapter and write 500 words (this last part may not be realistic, but I’m not ready to throw my writing under the college bus yet).

    • I’m sorry that college crisis is becoming crisisey already. Yuck!

      I think you can do the words this week. Just give yourself the freedom to make them really crappy. I’ll bet you can get 500 words in 20 min. or so–maybe try WriteOrDie (http://writeordie.com/#Web+App) just to get something on paper. Even if you have to rewrite it later, it can give you some practice parsing your ideas.

    • One of my profs put on her syllabus and told her students that she only looked at email at particular times of the day, like between 7 and 8:30 a. So if you wanted to communicate something to her, it needed to be in her inbox in the early morning, and you would have a response by 8:30. Sometimes the response was to tell you where your request was in the queue, but it seemed to work really well in creating boundaries for her.

    • Although they may be hard to implement with colleagues, email limits are, I think, a good idea. They also model good practice for others. There’s a time management guru who titled a book something along the lines of “Never Check Email First Thing in the Morning.” That won’t work in all situations, but it’s generally good advice, I think, since it avoids letting others set the agenda for the day by letting their concerns, whether or not they’re truly important, become urgent.

      I don’t know where you fit in the hierarchy, but is there any way to structure the email exchanges better (e.g. everybody weigh in by x; somebody summaries), or to try something like a wiki or google doc that would at least assure that everybody was commenting on the same document? Or to agree what will and won’t be done over email (if necessary, cite liability/publicity issues, and mention all the FOIA’d UVA emails that are now being picked over and discussed by journalists — this works better if you’re at a public institution, but private ones could probably find their emails subpoenaed should a lawsuit be filed)? Maybe you can scare them into holding face to face meetings if nothing else will work.

  7. Last (2) weeks goal: Slog through the TS reports I ran; 2nd level memo on the BS data; read for the LM paper.

    Accomplished: I did manage to make it through the TS reports. I probably need to do a quick second round but have written up many notes and created a few tables. I also did a little more reading for the LM paper (along with note-taking) and realized that I don’t have that much more reading to do for that paper. I did not get to the 2nd level memo on the BS data (although I did prep everything so I could DO the memo, just never actually did it).

    Analysis: Having the reports run really helped keep me focused. It was a big stack sitting on my desk that motivated me to reach the end. I need to do the same thing with the BS analysis. It is interesting to me that seeing the stack of reading I have left to do doesn’t motivate me. If anything it is a deterrent.

    Next Week’s Goals: Start incorporating my TS report notes into the draft paper; finish reading for LM paper.

    Preparing for fall: I didn’t report in last week (thought I mentioned that in my previous post but perhaps I forgot–sorry) because I was picking my son up from his cross-country bike ride. He spent the summer riding from Seattle to DC. Now he is home, living with us, until he finds a job and gets on his feet. I have a feeling that having him here is going to affect my ability to write. I have a fairly intense fall planned with teaching and mentoring but am in a really good place with my projects to continue with my writing. I know that I will but I also know that I want to spend this time with him. I missed him so much when he went off to college and I think the next time he leaves it will truly be for good.

    More writing group?: This has been really helpful. I’m not sure what my fall will bring. In the past I’ve hosted an informal writing group for my students and I may be hosting one for faculty this year. If not I would love to continue this one.

    • Congrats on getting through all the reports! And finding out you’re almost done with reading for LM sounds like a lovely surprise. Sorry I missed that you’d be out last week. I do remember reading it.

  8. Goal: make a list of everything that each paper still needs, and pick something every day and do it. 4 hours of writing a day.

    Accomplished/Analysis: Mostly accomplished for the first two days of last week, then I gave up. As in, completely gave up, packed away my office and the computer, had a final meeting with supervisor and left the building. Forever, except for my hopefully happy return in the fall to go and defend the thesis.

    I won’t be checking in next week. This is moving week and the hosue is not packed. But I have tickets to fly to new town with toddler in a few days, and everything that’s not done by then will be stuffed in boxes and moved anyway, ready or not. The goal is to get set up and working by the Monday after next to be ready for the fall term.

    I would be happy to host a writing group in the Winter, after this summer I’ve learned that I won’t be able to cope with it in the Fall, but it would be a good future activity.

  9. The transition to fall will probably take much more energy and time than I anticipate. My younger is starting kindergarten, so for the first time in 2.5 years, we’ll be without regular babysitters on hand. Sick days for the kids now mean less work for me. My available work hours won’t change drastically, but I’ll have an empty house during all of them, and somehow it’s much easier for me to work with an empty house, even though I’m usually out back in my office (attached to the garage). I’m going to have a 10 day break between the end of my summer and when school starts, and I’m sure going to need to rest. I’m gearing up for the big finish this fall, and the closer my (mostly self-imposed) deadlines get, the more stressed out I get. I’m so eager to be done that it’s hard to focus on what needs to be accomplished each day.

    Goals: 1) actually send Ch.3 and intro; 2) make progress on Ch. 1 expansion (aim for halfway +), 3) work well, incl. 2 evenings, starting with an easy task each day.

    Accomplished: 1) FINALLY!, 2) not so much, 3) the beginning of the week was great; then end, not so much. I also got 3 pages of very rough writing for Ch. 4 (I titled it “what I wish this chapter would say (and hopefully I’ll be able to prove it all).”)

    Analysis: I pushed hard to get Ch. 3 and Intro out, and I was spent for the rest of the week. Lots of outside events happened–our babysitters’ last week, finding a new violin teacher for the kids, dealing with a smashed bumper and knocked over fence (someone turning around got way too far up our driveway), my parents visiting, and now our kitchen sink is clogged. All those things definitely added pressure, but I think I mostly freaked out about how much work I still have to do to Ch. 1 to get it to “finished.” It’s another article revise, and I’m probably better off than I’m remembering (I did park on that lovely downhill slope), but after my advisor’s lukewarm response to Ch. 2, I’ve been skittish.

    This next week, the kids are at a looooong camp each day, so I’ll have more time than usual to work. Now that I’m down to one project to focus on, I’m hoping I can make a big dent. I’m going to aim for time spent working rather than word count or finishing, just to take off some of the stress.

    Next goals: Work on Ch. 1 (research, reading, writing, formatting): M 4 hours, T 6 hours, W 4 hours, Th 6 hours, F 4 hours.

      • Yay! Make sure to take the time to rest when you can carve that out, as part of gearing up for the final push.

    • Sounds like continued good progress, and, yes, maybe time for some brief R&R if you can squeeze it in in those 10 days.

      Advisors’ lukewarm reactions are tricky at this stage. Sometimes it pays to remind yourself (if not the advisor directly) that the dissertation is not, in fact, a book, but may be revised into one (and/or articles, although it sounds like parts of yours already are articles). Realistically, some parts may still be a strong but not perfectly polished draft, and that’s okay. At this point, the goal is for it to be coherent if not perfect, and done (to a level that the advisor and anyone else concerned is willing to sign off on). It’s hard to remember when you’re in the thick of finishing it (and it certainly took a while for me to see mine with some detachment), but the dissertation does fade in importance as time goes on. Obviously, you don’t want something that’s really sloppy or incoherent or plagiarized or otherwise downright embarrassing/damaging up on Digital Dissertations, but it’s also worth remembering that people who access those files expect to find a dissertation, not an edited, published work, and that’s what they do find (even down to the formatting, which at least a decade ago still reflected the fact that UMI was filming/scanning a paper copy, rather than receiving a PDF file).

      I think it’s something of a perfect being the enemy of the good situation. Perhaps the “make progress” goal will be a step in the right direction; that does, indeed, sound like a good way to reduce the pressure a bit (and often that’s when things start rolling).

  10. Goal: more progress on weeks 3 and 4, work two weekdays

    Accomplished: nada 😦

    Analysis: I am 1st trimester-exhausted, still nauseous (though that’s definitely getting better), and we spent all day Saturday at Happy Hollow (a wonderful kids zoo/amusement park) and were busy today, too. I got the kids out of the house a lot more this week than I had been, which was good because they were starting to go crazy after all I’ve felt like doing most of the summer is remaining horizontal on the couch/bed/floor. I think I kind of had a bad attitude about my article this week, too, and I’m not sure why. I’ve been choosing napping over writing.

    Next Goal: same as last week.

    Fall: I think I’ll just keep plodding through. Hopefully the exhaustion and nausea will be gone soon and that will help. Also, I managed to be extremely productive when I was writing my dissertation in the months before my first child arrived, so hopefully I can be motivated by an impending due date (mid-Feb) again.

    • We love Happy Hollow! I feel like my kids have been dissertation orphans this summer. Getting out of the house with the kiddos can be really important–work-life balance and all that. Those little bits of work you’re doing now will really pay off. I hope the sickness part of pregnancy tapers off soon!

  11. Despite the fact that my writing came to a screeching halt this summer (and I dropped this writing group), I would be up for co-hosting a writing group this fall. Even with teaching four classes, I somehow managed to get a schedule that will hopefully be conducive to writing. Also, there’s nothing like co-hosting a group to make you feel like you absolutely must get things done!

    • Thanks for offering to co-host! I just published a post to serve as a little discussion among those who’ve shown interest in hosting.

      Congrats on getting a great schedule!

  12. 1. Spend two hours a day plugging holes in two articles.

    2. Done!

    3. I found out mid-week that my pre-tenure review is in two months, not eight, as I had previously thought. After the initial panic, I realized that this writing group has saved my life (well, professionally, anyway) since I would have been concentrating on getting up to speed with the main responsibilities of the job, not the writing, otherwise.

    I asked for a meeting with the folks in my department who will be voting on me *and* who would be honest with me. The consensus was if I have the two articles sent out, that would be enough for this initial stage. Obviously if either or both is rejected, I have to keep trolling, but I’ve already got a good enough dossier from my previous job that I would not be cast out into the darkness.

    Nothing like panic to make one productive! I am meeting with my mentor next week and the Dean the week after that. Although I tend to be an optimistic person, my Irish side is rather nervous. I’m trying not to listen, though.

    4. Goal for next week: Two hours a day polishing. I need it all in somewhat presentable shape for the meeting with the mentor.

    So, planning for the fall is an extremely fortuitous topic. The main struggle will be to block out what time I can for writing. My administrative duties will explode in the fall. In order to combat the loss of time, I have set up meetings with myself that are inviolate.

    The next thing I need to do is find a place to hide. As is the case with most libraries, there are not that many quiet places, since group study is the new trend in a lot of disciplines. I have found a couple of hidden retreats, but I will have to wait until the semester starts to see how many students have found these places as well. At worst, I will put up a sign at the opening of my cubicle and use noise-cancelling headphones.

    • I sympathize with the need to find a place to hide. I have an office with a real door that closes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop the interruptions. Fortunately, my Sheldon Cooper-like student* has graduated. 🙂 Maybe that won’t be a problem this year. I’ve considered co-opting an empty classroom. Not sure if that is an option.

      I’ve also set up meetings with myself for the fall and started scheduling around my writing time. Rather than scheduling time after everyone else has filled up my schedule.

      I’m also trying to work on the word “No”. Not an easy word for me, but I’m working on it.

      • Oh, yes, I’ve had those students. too. At the last job, I hoped that being in a “restricted” area (Rare Books and Archives) would save me–no such luck!

        An empty classroom–oh, that might work. The Humanities classroom building is right next door–I’ll have to check that out.

        That “No” word is difficult for me, too. It’s complicated by the colleagues who will be voting on me, as well.

      • The best advice I’ve gotten on saying no is to just keep repeating, “That’s just not going to work for me right now.” And it can be handy to refer the asker to someone else who would be a good fit and would be more likely to be willing. Of course, that doesn’t always make it easier . . .

      • Thanks, Amstr. I was careful to make sure my previous publications counted before I took the position, after some nasty surprises at a previous institution. Even so, I have to prove that I am not “resting on my laurels,” a term which makes me laugh. This Writing Account (I love the double-entendre) will serve me well.

  13. I dropped out last week. OBE — primarily fall teaching stuff. I’m sorry I missed check-in. Semester preparations are in high gear on campus and at home. Where did the summer go?

    I have done very little research or writing the past ten days so I have made no progress toward my goal of revising the second article. I have decided to postpone work on the second article for now. I have new, more pressing deadline. I signed an advance contract on my book manuscript! I am relieved. A solid step toward tenure. I am scared. Can I really do this?! What have I done?!

    So my goal for this next week is: 1). finish syllabus for intro class; 2). work out revision schedule; 3). work at least one hour per day (M-F) on manuscript; 4). set up meetings with my thesis students.

    Being accountable to this group has helped me make so much progress this summer. I would be interested in participating again in the fall. I’m hesitant to offer to co-host, but I would be glad to help in some way if it would keep the group going.

  14. Goal: The past week’s goals
    1/2 hour TWThF

    Revised for 1/2 hour Wednesday and 1 hour on Thursday

    I learned that it helps to write in my journal first thing. When I acknowledged the emotions rather that avoiding them through procrastination, I got some work done. Other days I didn’t.
    On Friday, though, I procrastinated to avoid writing in the journal.

    Next Goal:
    1/2 hour TWF

    • Also, for the fall, the best thing I have done so far is to make what I think is a realistic writing goal. Of course, a lot depends on whether I can get my summer project out the door.

    • I find myself avoiding writing often as well, and when I finally convince myself to do some freewriting/journaling, everything does get better, and I get way more productive.

      Congrats on the work you did get done this week–you still made progress!

  15. Old goal: [finish and submit MMP and article]: catch up with the translation work

    Achieved: zip.

    Analysis: You might think I was coasting on having submitted one article, but actually, the problem last week was social life. I kept going out and doing stuff, sometimes for most of the day. I made lists, and I got a few house-related things done, but really, last week might as well have been officially vacation. In fact, I think I did more when I was officially on vacation.

    New goal: 2 hours of research a day, just like I want to do when classes start. Translation? MMP? Both? I want visible progress next week.

    Planning for the fall: I have been thinking about Z’s remarks on preserving the scholar-self, like here: http://profacero.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/those-big-blocks-of-time/ , and also about Virginia Valian’s comment about it being irresponsible not to do research (that is, one is responsible to one’s work, not just to other people such as students and administrators). I think more than specific planning about time and place, I need to preserve that sense of writing/research as something that is important and cannot be pushed aside to do this or that for someone else.

    • DEH, thanks for this link as well as your earlier link to the Virginia Valian article (which I downloaded). Much to think about here. I schedule and plan for time to research and write, but I am still guilty of setting aside those appointments with myself to accommodate someone else’s schedule.

  16. Sorry, I’m late.

    Goals: making a plan and starting to write a research review article, writing research review part of my presentation

    Accomplished: not very much. I tried to write, but only memos, no solid paragraphs.

    Analysis: I made a two-day trip with my old friend, and we had not met for several years. She has a good job at a good university, working hard and already published a book. What I was impressed is that she is so confident in her ability and her own research. After coming back home, I have been thinking what I have been doing these so many years. No book yet, no confidence in my ability. I know I do have to concentrate on what I have to do now, but meeting her made me consider whether my research is worth something or not…

    Next goal: preparation for my two presentation: short one and long one.
    anyway, I have to prepare for my short presentation on 17th, and much longer one on 25th.

    • Situations that cause you to doubt yourself can be really hard to recover from. I think you’re right to keep focused on your tasks. The more work you do, the more confident you can be. And it sounds like impressed you about your friend is something to aspire to. Don’t let it discourage you–use the friend as inspiration that it *can* be done!

      • Thank you very much for your advice! As you suggested, I can have my friend as inspiration, while doing what I can do now. Thank you!

  17. Pingback: Des dialogues | Mictlantecuhtli

  18. So very sorry for missing last week, and being so late this week!

    Past goals (2 weeks ago): Goal 1: grade papers in less than 30 minutes per paper; Goal 2: Be sure to do SOMETHING to push forward writing on Thursday and Friday after grade deadline.

    Accomplished: Did not accomplish either of those– grading fully took over my life. One more week was also lost to a combination of post-grading organization of course materials, and then 2-3 days dealing with a grant crisis.

    Analysis: Grading took too much time, mostly, I think, because it was really hard for me to concentrate– my mind wanders when grading, and also I write too many comments on papers (I KNOW I do, but can’t seem to control myself?!). I think I then needed decompression time after the intensity of the grading etc., and lots of time and brainpower needed to organize course materials. I will note down how much time this took me and, I hope, in the coming semesters will PLAN for it to take that long.

    Next goal: Three days of the workweek have already been lost to a family visit, other obligations to family, and helping in the department (committee stuff). Thursday and Friday are left. My goals are to spend 75% of those workdays (let’s say, total of 5 hours each day) working on a grant proposal and working on MC results and MC5 preparation.

    Fall: I have an unusual situation with a second baby coming in October, so this fall up ’till the baby comes will be a pretty deadline-oriented, probably-panicked time, with no official teaching (though several teaching-type workshops). I will need to balance committee work, writing of grant proposals, and keeping research going; and one article MUST be submitted, but other article writing will have to take a back seat. I think I’ll want to keep track of how much time I’m spending on those four major categories and make sure that nothing gets left ENTIRELY behind (i.e. that I get to each of those four major tasks each week, and don’t let them take over.)

  19. A baby coming in October! Congratulations, and enjoy your baby! You must be very busy, but take care of yourself and good luck for your research!

  20. Grading is one of those trick y things that just takes lots of time. Congrats on finishing up!

    Congrats on Baby#2! I found there’s nothing quite so motivating as a due date. But somehow with mine I wasn’t quite motivated enough–I ended up taking my area exams when my 2nd was 4 1/2 months old.

    Getting involved with each task each week sounds like a really good plan.

    • Thank you for the congrats! I’ve had the same experience with the baby-deadline; motivating, but also distracting. Will try to keep my eye on work ’till the baby arrives!

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