Summer Writes: Week 10

Welcome to week 10, folks—we’re barreling toward the end of Summer Writes. Even though we strive for long blocks of uninterrupted writing time, sometimes we fall short of that. Gregory Semenza offers some advice on the “The Value of 10 Minutes” to help us meet our writing goals as we feel ourselves—and our schedules—pulled in a million different directions.

You weekly goals are posted below. As always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:


1. Work on sketching out the remaining two empirical chapters as I envision them, as well as a brief statement on the overall contributions of the diss for one of my letter-writers.
2. Go through my past writing on this topic and assorted notes and start piecing together the intro/lit review chapter.
3. Maintain sanity through deep breathing, controlled consumption of caffeine, and ample play time with the dog.


1) Get revised conclusion to advisor (am done rereading stuff as far as I know; have brainstormed enough; time to finish tying it together) Tues. night or Wed.
2) Accept or reject changes suggested by editor for the whole diss minus conclusion
3) Do whatever tweaks with the conclusion are needed to make it pass; if time run it by editor, too, Thurs. or Mon.
4) Write acknowledgements
5) Format dissertation (margins, page numbers, section breaks, etc.)
6) Reduce abstract to 350 words (shave off 100 or so)
7) Submit diss electronically before Tuesday afternoon grad school appointment to close it all up
8) Keep going with final report for NSF
9) Keep planning R and R steps (rank priorities and keep separate reviewer issues that are not relevant, to respond in memo only)
10) To not get lost every time I briefly try to plan for move, fall teaching

Dan: Monday through Wednesday I’m going to try to log at least four 50-minute poms a day on work, Thursday I’m going up to the Bay Area, and Friday I’m doing an oral history. Concrete goals for this week: figure out course books to order, prepare the oral history, get a post drafted for a new blogging project, and send an article draft to my advisor on Saturday.

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Summer Writes: Week 9

Welcome to week 9: we’re officially two-thirds done with Summer Writes! If you’re looking for other ways to crowdsource your writing accountability before the beginning of Fall Writes (date TBD), check out this post by Raul Pacheco-Vega on #GetYourManuscriptOut. Of course, there’s also the #GraftonLine Facebook group—and if you’re curious, a brief history of #GraftonLine. ProfHacker also had a post last week on tracking your writing, which has some great links and suggestions in the comments. And just in case you missed it, here’s a plug for my latest piece at Chronicle Vitae on why you should apply for a pre-doc and how to make one count.


Weekly Goals:

Meg: The goal for this week is to make sure I have all my illustrative data excerpts for each part of the typology I’m building, and to finish thinking through how it works conceptually. Goal is to write 750 new words every day! Secondary goal is to fine-tune job docs based on some feedback and politely harass my letter writers about getting the letters done for the first few job apps.

Dan: five 50-minute poms each day, plugging away at the article and devoting some serious time to teaching prep—for my two history classes I need to decide what books will need to be ordered from the campus bookstore, and for my DH class I need to decide on a topic for the class project. For the DH class I need to also look at examples of other people’s syllabi for ideas about readings and structure.

Nicole: 1) Change the identified typos in electronic diss. document.

2) Develop conclusion ideas on citizenship more (revision requested by committee). Can send this to my advisor starting early next week.

And as long as 2) is moving:

3) Work on NSF reporting some more.

4) Itemize the suggested R and R changes.


1) Begin editing footnotes for introduction (did that yesterday)
2) Obtain publication permission for photos (did not get to that one–will move that to next week)
3) Read two books for article revisions (also did not get to that–but the week’s technically not over…yet!)

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Summer Writes: Week 8

Arabic calligraphy on the side of the Taj Mahal.

Arabic calligraphy on the side of the Taj Mahal.

Welcome to Week 8 of Summer writes! It’s the week after the Fourth of July: do you know where your summer writing goals are?

Usually in a twelve-week writing group, this is where people really start to fall off—don’t let this be you! Stay strong and keep the faith for the next five weeks, and you’ll feel better for it. And as always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Nicole: Basically, I still have to complete most of the goals I set out last week. Defense is Tuesday! I have been practicing Q and A for the defense with 2 colleagues and by roughly writing out some of the answers to anticipated questions. But I still need to finish rereading dissertation, and (key) finish preparing the 10 minute presentation covering questions, analytical process, and contributions, practice this tomorrow afternoon with 2 colleagues, and also write the abstract (in the worst case this can be done after the diss. defense but that is less desirable; I will be even more over it then!).

Dan: Monday I’m going to spend with my boyfriend because he has the day off, but Tuesday through Friday I’m going to stick to my five big poms, but adjust my work schedule to be 10 to 12, 130 to 330, and 4 to 5, and see how that goes.

Meg: I am just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is working on my stuff in a 3 to 4 hour chunk in the morning, break for lunch/paid work/ meetings, and then another 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon/evening.

Naoko: - Discuss with data manager options for image sharing
- Discuss with data center re: producing list of moms of eligible for enrollment
- Set clear qualitative training dates and revisit qualitative training brainstorm
- Write introduction and methods for Intergrowth paper

Steph: 1) Complete edits through Chapter Five
2) Begin to revise teaching statement

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Summer Writes: Week 7

House of Kemat's Klingon alphabet and number chart.

House of Kemat‘s Klingon alphabet and number chart. You can learn some Klingon from this instructional video.

True story: when I was twelve, my dad dragged us on a cross-country road trip. My act of rebellion was to bring along my Klingon language tape and practice in the backseat.

As usual, leave your goals for the week in the comments if you haven’t done so already, and I’ll add them to the list. Happy writing!

Weekly goals:

Nicole: 1) read the whole dissertation, warts and all. Monday + Tuesday.
2) list for myself some of the possible critiques so the feedback from committee is not too crushing. Monday + Tuesday.
3) get ready to receive some initial feedback from my advisor on the whole package (ack; not sure when)
4) plan a short presentation for the defense (the following week) and find someone who’s not trying to finish to practice it with. Wed, Thurs, Fri.
5) write an abstract and revise that a few times until it’s tight enough to share (either entirely below 350 words, or two versions with one that short) to distribute around the end of the week (by Thursday) or the following Monday.

Chez: Complete formatting, acknowledgements, and abstract – submit final dissertation to the Graduate School (Mon. and Tues.); begin reading a book a committee member recommended to help frame possible methods article; begin planning/possibly outlining possible methods article; complete housing trip.

Meg: I am on track to send round 2 of the parole chapter, plus a rough outline of the women chapter (with data excerpts, concepts, etc.), to my advisor by the end of the day on Tuesday. On Weds., I will need to catch up on paid work that I have neglected. Thurs. I will return to the R & R. I’m not sure how long these revisions are going to take me, and I still want to move forward with the women chapter to meet my goal of a first draft to my advisor by the end of July, so I will likely post again mid-week once I’ve figured out more specific process tasks.

Dan: Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to get in five fifty-minute poms, writing from 10 to 12, 1 to 3, and 330 to 430. Wednesday I’m doing an oral history in the afternoon, so I’ll likely cut that down to two poms in the morning and one or two in the afternoon.

Melanie: I will take a break for the holiday but have a 45 minute talk coming up that I will start to get together in the coming week.

Roberta: 1) to arrange for my sister (archivist) to come and help return the papers to a usable, organized collection 2) include at least 2-50 minute PomsWednesdayThursday and Friday this week in addition to scanning the materials I expect to use in the upcoming two weeks so they are readily accessible and entered into Zotero with the intention of returning to 4-50 minute poms of actual writing next week. Immediate goal–to have a 2 page writing sample from Chapter one ready for my Department’s writing group meeting on Thursday.

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Summer Writes: Week 6

Facing pages from The Tale of Kieu, a Vietnamese epic poem written in chữ Nôm script.

Scan from The Tale of Kieu, a Vietnamese epic poem written in chữ Nôm, a vernacular script based on classical Chinese.

Welcome to Week 6! We’re almost to the halfway point of the writing group, which is a good time to take a hard look at your goals for the summer. What do you need to do to get where you want to be seven weeks from now? If you haven’t set your goals for the wek yet, put them in the comments, and happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Meg: I want to return to the parole chapter as my priority this week, mixing things up with the R & R when I feel stuck. My goal is to write 500 to 750 new words each day, Mon-Sat., and ambitiously get this chapter back to my advisor early next week.

Nicole: In brief, I need to turn in my whole dissertation Wed. or even Tues. night. The remaining thing is revising empirical chapter 3 and then proofreading.

Naoko: - brainstorm requests/guidelines for ultrasound training next week
- begin writing ultrasound MOO with Nanomaxx device in mind
- being qualitative training guide
- submit revised NNIPS-3 paper
- send along revised neonatal referral paper
- complete review for BMC
- if time allows, begin drafting Intergrowth paper

Chez: complete dissertation revisions, complete dissertation formatting, start planning for articles coming out of the diss. To help me focus, I’m setting writing times for myself: Monday 9a-1p and 2-5 p; Tuesday 9a-2p; Wednesday 1-6p; Thursday 3-8p; Friday 9-11:30 a; Saturday as needed.

Dan: One 50-minute pom in the morning and one in the evening, bookending my work in the archives. Also, start preparing my classes for the fall by identifying major tasks and breaking them into discrete tasks.

Steph: Finish editing Chapter Five and integrate some more literature into two parts of the chapter.

Roberta: Most of the work this week is organizing and reorganizing and a return with a vengeance next week to committed writing time.

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Summer Writes: Week 5


Old Bulgarian alphabet, a precursor to the modern Cyrillic alphabet. Read more here. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Old Bulgarian alphabet, a precursor to the modern Cyrillic alphabet. Read more here. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. But as we head into Week 5, think about what you need to do between now and the end to meet your goals. Maybe it would help to set some intermediate deadlines building to your overall goals? Similarly, if you’re not making progress on one part of your project, think about breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and work those into your weekly goals. And happy writing!

Weekly Goals:


To do this week: It is really down to the wire for when things need to be in to my advisor and then the committee for the defense. I am trying to stay calm.

1) Empirical Chapter 3 revision. Still take out any remaining points that sound causal, replacing it with associational language, add elective affinity, and keep going with the reordering. Also spend some time doing within-type contrasts and adding whatever I can say about gender to the within-type generalizations.

2) Empirical Chapter 2 revision based ideas about varied roles of state, non-profit cooptation, and state withdrawal I set up in the intro, visions of citizenship in the intro, and table from the chapter before. Needs more within-type contrasts; talk about how there is the most contestation in one type in particular.

4) As time permits, work on conclusion more.

5) Remain calm overall; I can’t get upset about any difficult feedback now; hopefully committee members will understand 3 full weeks in advance isn’t possible.


This week I’m going to be in the archives at Chicago, so writing may be a challenge. My idea is to do a 50-minute pom in the morning before I go to the library and one in the evening, M-F. This week I’d also like to finish the section I’m working on, which is the final substantive section of the chapter/article. I’m setting a deadline for finishing revisions to this thing by July 4th, so I can send it to some trusted readers for feedback, and move on to other projects.

Chez: - complete revisions on dissertation that came out of the defense
- complete formatting of full dissertation
- start planning possible articles coming out of the dissertation, based on committee members’ feedback

Meg: Now the focus needs to be on turning around this R & R and finalizing my research statement for job applications before I start mapping out a second chapter.The word count goal worked well for me last week, but won’t work so well for these types of activities, so I am going to try the 50-minute poms that are working for others, aiming to do between 4 and 6 each day.

Melanie: I am going to do additional research for my very rough chapter 1, and start filling my outline for chapter 2 in with research I’ve done so far so I can get a better sense of the gaps. Hitting the archives every day and doing a little writing every day, as I am finding I have too much research momentum at this point to take full days off to write.

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Summer Writes: Week 4—Kill Your Darlings Edition

Photo negative of Rongorongo tablet. Source: Wikipedia.
Photo negative of Rongorongo tablet. Read more about Rongorongo and six other undeciphered scripts here. Source: Wikipedia.

According to Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Well, he may or may not have said that, and if he did, Arthur Quiller-Crouch probably said it first. Stephen King has a riff on the same idea:

Image credit: Adam Drake

Image credit: Adam Drake

The point is that the writing process is both creative and destructive—you have to put words, ideas, and evidence on the page, but you also have to be willing to destroy them when they’re not—or no longer—working. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black talks about this in his own creative process, as well as his enviable work ethic:

Killing your darlings can be daunting, but at the first stage of the writing process, it’s also a relief. If you know you’re going to edit later, you don’t need to worry about making the first draft perfect, and that frees you to just write.

Weekly goals:

Steph: 1) Read article for Chapter Four revisions.
2) Move through at least 15 pages of revisions for Chapter Four.
3) Finish revisions to introduction.

Roberta: My goal this week remains largely the same, a minimum of 4 50-minute poms with 5 minute breaks and no more than 6 poms in a day no matter what (to avoid burnout). I’m going to lower my daily word goal this week so I don’t feel defeated. I’m aiming for 750 words a day for 5 days = 3750 for the week as I continue to work on Chapter 1.

Dan: This week, my goals are pretty much the same as last week—five fifty-minute poms, working 10-12, 1-3, and 330-430.

Nicole: Goals this week– keep triaging and get things to advisor!
1) Read the coming peer feedback on written intro, and do references. Make any necessary adjustments and pass this on to advisor ASAP.
2) Apply the agreed on changes to Chapter 3. This means taking out the “embededdness” argument and any points that sound causal. Replace with associational language and the new phrases. Also spend some time doing within-type contrasts and adding whatever I can say about gender to the within-type generalizations. This is doable.
3) Tues. or Thurs, get methods back from editor, make any necessary tweaks, add a little more on Milwaukee organizing and neighborhood history, and get this to advisor stat!
4) Pull through on Chapter 2 revision. It is moving. I just need to keep pulling it together. Like w/Ch 3, also do some within-type contrasts; talk about how there is the most contestation in one type in particular. This is the last frontier/ will require some brain cells.
5) Start to sketch out the conclusion with the stuff on the bridge metaphor.
6) I can’t get upset about any difficult feedback now.

Chez: - finish my conclusion chapter (Monday!)
- finish my presentation for the defense, incorporating feedback based on last week’s practice run
- do another practice run with friends on Thursday
- reread my dissertation
- anticipate and prepare for likely questions I’ll receive from committee members
- defend on Friday!

Meg: Goal: Mon.-Fri. I aim to write 1,000 words/day and possibly send very rough chapter draft on Fri. night or next Mon. am

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