Writing Between (Week 4)

My final check-in before the writing retreat:

Goal for Week 3: Write 3300 words/complete Chapter 4 draft; finish reading book chapter; read more of new book; plan for writing retreat (and pack).

Accomplished: finished Chapter 4 draft!!! Planned for writing retreat and started packing.

Analysis: It feels good to have the full draft done. I’m letting it sit until tomorrow afternoon so I can have some fresh(er) eyes on it. I may actually leave it to late in the evening and focus on my Chapter 2 revision, just to give Chapter 4 more rest. I worked diligently, and lots of other things in life got left undone, but my actual writing time didn’t take up that many hours. But I’m still exhausted! Getting to sleep early didn’t really happen, but I did think about getting to sleep earlier. I’ll count that as progress.

One thing that will improve productivity for the retreat: Write First, and Walk A Lot. That’s really two things, but both help give me room to focus and room to think.

Goals for writing retreat: clean up Chapter 4 to send to writing partner; clean up Chapter 2 to send to advisor; re-draft conclusion. Anything else is golden.

For the writing retreat, I’m planning a schedule much like my October retreat: work for 2 hour chunks, and then half hour breaks, with some longer meal times in between. I’m also sneaking out for dinner with a friend on Saturday night, and I’ve got some movies cued/queued up on the iPad for the meals and evenings. I’m looking forward to being back in the little cabin. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that I avoid mountain lion sightings again.

Writing Between: The Beauty of Cut and Paste

During my comprehensive exams, a medieval literature professor told me to write paragraphs after I read things. “You’ll be able to drop them into your drafts,” she promised. Today I was reminded that she was right.

I’m not one to write single paragraphs. I tend to think of a piece of writing as a whole. In what I consider the “pre-writing” phase, I produce three or four very rough drafts. For each iteration, I start with a blank page and a simple outline. And I keep my old draft handy. (Scrivener allows me to see both documents at once.) Then for my first full draft I’ve not only thought through the material a few times, I also have raw matter in basic paragraph containers.

Today, I was able to cut and paste 600+ words from my old draft into my full draft. They’ll need a slight bit of shaping, but I have four paragraphs (that have the right basic material) moved into place. I love when previous work makes present work easier.

Current word count: 7660/9000

Writing Between (Week 3)

Posts start again over at Dame Eleanor’s May-August writing group on the 13th, and by that time I should have my full rough draft done. Here’s how: this week, I’ll finish drafting my final chapter; at my writing retreat next weekend, I’ll clean it up to send to readers and draft my conclusion. My May-August goal will be to take my full draft and turn it in to something submittable by mid-August, in time for a September defense.

Last week was not as productive as I’d have liked, but I’m still making progress.

Goals for Week 2: write 3000 words (or more–4000 would be amazing); finish the book chapter I started two weeks ago.

Accomplished: wrote 1229 words; re-read the first quarter of the book chapter (the lit review is really good and relevant to my work); and read the introduction and a bit of the first chapter of another relevant book.

Analysis: I had a decent start to the week, but I got distracted by home life. May is always a crazy month with end-of-the-year school activities and swim team starting up (plus one kid is in soccer this spring), and even though it happens every year, it surprised me again.

One thing I can change to make next week more productive: scheduling loosely (in 1/2 hour chunks) worked well last week when I managed to work, so I’ll continue. This week will be helped by getting to bed a little earlier than usual–say 10:30, instead of 11:30 or midnight.

Goals for Week 3: Write 3300 words/complete Chapter 4 draft; finish reading book chapter; read more of new book; plan for writing retreat (and pack).

I’ll try to check in Friday before I leave on my writing retreat, and again Monday when I return.

Writing Between (first Wednesday)

Why is it that on my long work day, I get less done than other days? I can list the things that took my time: a call with the electrician, a meeting with the electrician, a hard but good swim, tidying the house, eating lunch while watching The Voice. But somehow it happens every week. Maybe it’s that I feel like I have so much time I can afford to be leisurely with everything. Or maybe I was extra tired today. Or maybe I was catching up with life after being busy yesterday.

I’m off to play catch up. I’m not too far behind my goals to make them by the end of the week.

For next week I’ll need to think of a Wednesday strategy to see if I can up my productivity.

Writing Between (Week 1)

There’s a break between writing groups, so I thought I’d check in here with some weekly goals. I’m heading into the big push to get Chapter 4 done enough to send to my writing partner, and I definitely need the accountability. Here are my minimum goals:

Week 0: 1100 words done
Week 1: 2500 words
Week 2: 3000 words
Week 3: 2000 words
Week 4: clean up to send

Somewhere in there I’ll need to add another 400 words or so.

At the end of Week 3, I have a weekend writing retreat scheduled. I’m hoping to use it to clean up the Chapter 4 draft, revise the Chapter 2 draft from writing partner comments, and draft some (all?) off the conclusion. I won’t have a printer on my retreat, so I have a hard deadline for the finished draft. (I absolutely must edit on paper.)

Goals for Week 1: write 2500 words (or more–4000 would be fantastic); read/annotate/notes on two articles; annotate two articles I read last week; skim one book for quotes.

Overall writing account

I’m still basically where I was last time I reported–I still need to finish Chapter 4, write the conclusion, and revise Chapter 2 (I’m waiting for writing partner feedback on how substantial the revisions need to be). At this point, I think I can have the complete dissertation draft to my advisor (and hopefully secondary advisor too) by the first week of June. My third committee member is gone for the summer, so it’s likely I’ll defend in September. Maybe I can time it so it’s 10 years to the day since I started my PhD. There is a possibility that my advisor and I will try to replace my third committee member in order to schedule a summer (probably August) defense. Sooner seems better, of course, but it also sounds nice to have time to get the formatting and proofreading right without having to rush.

I’m close. So close.

The Final Check-in (Summer Writing Group, Week 15)

Thank you all for a lovely summer writing group. It was a pleasure to host, and I can say with certainty that I would not have accomplished much at all this summer without the weekly check-ins, the challenge of goal setting, and the encouragement of writing alongside other scholars/writers.

For our final check in, assess your progress this summer. Did you accomplish what you set out to? Less? More? What affected your ability to meet your goals? Have you learned things about yourself and/or your writing that you can take with you into the next season?

Format: 1) The week’s goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Overall progress assessment.

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Sept-Dec 2012 writing group over at Dame Eleanor Hull’s, you can do so HERE, if you wish. JaneB and Trapped in Canadia will host the following group, starting in January 2013. Check over at DEH’s in December for more info, if you’re planning to skip the Sept-Dec group.

The final list:

Amstr [complete dissertation draft]: 1) finish annotations and notes on articles, 2) read some more, 3) work on Ch. 1 revision (finish?), 4) work out fall plan for tackling Ch. 2 and prepping to write Ch. 4 (which still needs a LOT of research)
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work]: 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: 8/24]
Daisy
[finish thesis]: get set up and working by the Monday after next to be ready for the fall term. [next check-in: 8/24]
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: 2 hours a day; visible progress on both the MMP and on the translation work
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[book chapter proposal; writing 4 days/week]: ? [writing 4 days/week]
emmawriting
[EOCP full draft sent to collaborator, MC paper results section done, MUL data collected, MC5 fully prepped]: MC1 analyzed; MC4 analysis decisions finalized; MC5 decisions finalized and scales sent for translation. Also some major committee work
GEW
[short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: Use existing notes to draft a coherent and cohesive first 5-7 pages of chapter.
humming42
[complete book MS]: finish syllabi and proposal for certificate program, have handbook read for orientation, solid first draft of August project.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: progress on the BittyPaper, and commenting on two papers where I’m a subsidiary co-author – the one the Cloud ate and a second one
jenk
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]: Discuss new paper outlines with advisers and collaborators. Start making/collecting figures.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: ? [more progress on weeks 3 and 4, work two weekdays]
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1/2 hour Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: preparation for a longer presentation, 15-minute writing a day (my writing habit has been collasping recently)
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: [no goal listed]
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: Write 3 times. Finish syllabus and course schedule. Figure out a Fall schedule for myself.
Sapience
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: ?? simply surviving
tracynicolerose
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]: Write a process memo for the BE analysis; Review the BE packets; and finish reading for LM paper.

Writing Time (Summer Writing Group, Week 14)

In the comments about preparing for fall, many of you wrote of setting aside time to write, and the ways that those times can get interrupted or pushed aside. Here are a few examples:

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell:

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.

GEW:

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.

Dame Eleanor Hull:

I have been thinking about Z’s remarks on preserving the scholar-self, 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.

So how can we preserve the importance of writing and research? How do you assign them their proper value? What does this mean for how you handle other work or life pressures?

For me, these questions boil down to identity (see Dame Eleanor’s like above). I still struggle to see myself as a writer, even though academic writing is what I’ve been doing for the better part of my adult life. My “scholar-self” often gets overthrown by my mother-self or my pleasure-reader-self or my web-surfing-self. In my case, my scholar-self is not so much attacked from outside, as it is subverted from within. How do you preserve your identity as a scholar?

Check in: This week, the usual. Next week, we’ll do a final check in complete with an assessment of your summer progress. I expect to have more solid information on the fall group by next week. UPDATE: Dame Eleanor will be hosting a Sept-Dec 2012 group, starting Aug 31. Sign up HERE.

The penultimate goals list:

Amstr [complete dissertation draft]: Work on Ch. 1 (research, reading, writing, formatting): M 4 hours, T 6 hours, W 4 hours, Th 6 hours, F 4 hours.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J article by 8/24; make progress on P projects; continue freelance work]: 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: 8/24]
Daisy
[finish thesis]: get set up and working by the Monday after next to be ready for the fall term. [next check-in: 8/24]
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: 2 hours of research a day, just like I want to do when classes start. Translation? MMP? Both? I want visible progress next week.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[book chapter proposal; writing 4 days/week]:  Two hours a day polishing. I need it all in somewhat presentable shape for the meeting with the mentor.
emmawriting
[ EOCP full draft sent to collaborator, MC paper results section done, MUL data collected, MC5 fully prepped]: Spend 75% of Thurs and Fri (let’s say, total of 5 hours each day) working on a grant proposal and working on MC results and MC5 preparation.
GEW
[short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: 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
humming42
[complete book MS]: continue daily work on the August project and teaching prep, 30 minutes each.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: tackle that R&R (I’d like to draft the new version this week) and draft a job application letter
jenk
[good draft of main project; figures + results of side project]:  20 min thinking about/working on one of the papers
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: more progress on weeks 3 and 4, work two weekdays
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1/2 hour TWF
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: preparation for my two presentation: short one and long one.
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: 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.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: 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.
Sapience
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: ? simply surviving
tracynicolerose
[draft of TS and analysis for BE]: Start incorporating my TS report notes into the draft paper; finish reading for LM paper.

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).
Daisy
[finish thesis]: get something off the list every day, and try for 4 hours of writing time.
DEH
[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.
emmawriting
[ 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.
GEW
[short draft of new chapter (10 pages)]: Read two book chapters, write 500 words for diss chapter five.
humming42
[complete book MS]: 30 minutes a day on the August project + 30 minutes a day on another research project
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: develop a plan for the rest of the summer for my writing.
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]:  Continue on weeks 3 and 4, work two weekdays this week, in addition to the weekend.
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; submit 2nd ms to new journal]: 1/2 hour TWThF
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: making a plan and starting to write a research review article, writing research review part of my presentation.
NWGirl
[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
Sapience
[complete diss; plan for one project for fall]: simply surviving
tracynicolerose
[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.