Summer Writes: Week 1

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Welcome to the beginning of the third installment of Summer Writes! I’ve listed our goals for both the summer and the week below. At the end of the week (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday—whatever constitutes the end of the writing week for you) come back and update us on your progress in a comment to this post, and let us know your goals for week 2. I’ll collect those into another post for week 2, and so it goes until mid-August. Remember that specific and manageable goals tend to work best for keeping momentum and morale up!

Roberta mentioned using SelfControl to block out distracting websites. I frequently use the Pomodoro Method (and specifically and app called Focus Time) to help myself stay on task, and recently I began using Evernote to implement the Getting Things Done method. Are there any other tools you’ve found useful for writing or organizing your work? Let us know in the comments!

And if you’re on the fence about joining us, go ahead and leave your goals in the comments as well. It’s never too late to join. And, as always, happy writing!

Goals:

Steph: Revisions for manuscript due by August 29th. This requires some more reading as well as cutting/adding. My goal is to work on 10 pages a day of cutting/revising.

Dylan: Picking up a semi-dormant research thread–that means interviews and archives for a few weeks, then 2-3 hours per day of writing. My goal: an article-length piece I’m not ashamed of by the end of August.

Meg: For the week: Oh, and next week’s goal: return to data analysis and start mapping out chapter 1. Writing schedule: MWThFSa 9am to 2pm.

For the summer: 1) Two chapters of the dissertation by July 31. They can be sloppy, and I’m not starting from scratch on either of them.
2) Finalize job application materials for ye olde job market.

Roberta:

My goal for the summer is to have a full draft (minus intro and conclusion) of the guts of the dissertation no matter how messy. I have moving parts of the work but not in any coherent narrative so while not from scratch, it is a major undertaking. While I will post specific goals for each week, I have an overall plan of writing M-F from 7:30am-11:30am using a modified Pomodoro method of 4-50 minute sessions with 5 minute breaks in between. I will use the SelfControl App during those hours to avoid the temptation of surfing the web or going down rabbit holes. Those hours are WRITING and not other tasks like mini research session or entering/tagging sources into Zotero. That work will happen each afternoon in preparation for the following day.

My goal for the first week is to make one final research trip to DC for 5 days to read, scan materials I was unable to get to last summer. The writing sessions begin on May 27th.

Dan:

Two main goals for the summer: turn one of my dissertation chapters into an article and submit for publication, and get a formal proposal for the edited collection based on my oral history project. Monday of this week I’m not setting a writing goal because I have other things to do, but the rest of the week I’m setting a goals of eight poms Tuesday through Friday. Specifics to do this week:

– read through the relevant chapter for holes and revisions
– go back through my notes in Scrivener on this chapters to see what I planned to do with it post-defense
– condense the two separate book proposals I have into a single document

Nicole: Get dissertation submitted to  committee by mid June. The defense is in early July. There are a lot of things that need to happen first to get it in shape and vetted by my advisor (some is, some isn’t yet).
This week I need to:
1) Get co-authored paper in for conference Monday, so all the last minute stuff has to happen tomorrow. Joint decisions, transitions, spell check, reference check, formatting check, etc. If this can be done by 2 pm, that would be great. (Then I need to a make plan to turn paper into short talk with coauthors so this does not eat up too much time now.)
2) Get as far as possible revising diss empirical chapter 2, by filling in info on the cases, now that I have restructured the argument and lit review.
3) Do the methods chapter– this will not be that bad but has been delayed. It is mostly fusing together existing writing.
4) Expect critical feedback to get back to me about empirical chapter 3. Hopefully it will not be dire. I have to avoid being discouraged by this.

Melanie: My goals for the summer are to turn in the first half of my dissertation (meaning I will revise two chapters, and write another) and to finish the research as best I can during my two month stay in Chicago (which, writing-wise, I think will mean rounding out summer with a pretty good outline of the latter half of the project). While in Chicago, I’m shooting to spend some part of MTThF doing archive work, and making sure that Wednesdays are a writing and processing day so I don’t get burnt out and overwhelmed. I am also working on a conference paper for early June and beginning collaboration for turning it into a co-authored piece but I am keeping my writing goals pretty focused on the dissertation.

Chez: I’m defending my dissertation next month, so I’m pretty narrowly focused on that, as well as a collaborative conference paper. Goals for this week (likely spilling into next week):
1) Major revisions to my introduction and literature review. Currently, it is very rough, so this is a big task that requires reading, synthesizing, and writing.
2) Write conclusion
3) Format dissertation in line with Graduate School requirements (due June 1st)
4) Complete conference paper (today!)
5) Work on conference powerpoint/presentation
Schedule: Today is devoted to the conference paper. Tuesday is filled with non-work things I’ve been putting off. Wednesday-Friday work 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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About droyles

Historian of the recent American past.
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11 Responses to Summer Writes: Week 1

  1. Nicole says:

    What is the theme this time????

  2. I’m late! I won’t be setting any goals for this week because I have committed to taking a full week off to recover from working three jobs this semester. My goals for the summer are to turn in the first half of my dissertation (meaning I will revise two chapters, and write another) and to finish the research as best I can during my two month stay in Chicago (which, writing-wise, I think will mean rounding out summer with a pretty good outline of the latter half of the project). While in Chicago, I’m shooting to spend some part of MTThF doing archive work, and making sure that Wednesdays are a writing and processing day so I don’t get burnt out and overwhelmed. I am also working on a conference paper for early June and beginning collaboration for turning it into a co-authored piece but I am keeping my writing goals pretty focused on the dissertation.

  3. droyles says:

    Don’t forget to tell us how you did re your goals last week, and to tell us your new goals for the coming week!

  4. Roberta says:

    I largely met my first week goals. I read through all of one full box of letters during my DC trip but only scanned a few of the documents choosing to read through rather than scan. There was less useful material for my immediate project so I will scan only those this coming week in the afternoons.

    My goal this week is to create a better working outline to begin writing coherently and to insert the useable quotes around which to write chapter 1. I will be unavailable for anything other than writing from 7:30-11:30am. I plan to write in 4 – 50 minute sessions with 5 minute breaks during those hours. Planning for the following day, updating Zotero, etc. will happen between 1:30 and 4:30pm.

  5. Chez says:

    I made good progress on last week’s goals – about 2/3 done with dissertation introduction/lit review chapter, completed conference papers with co-authors, began formatting dissertation. As expected, though, most goals are spilling into this week. I’ll be out of town for a conference Wednesday through Sunday so likely will not get much writing done during that time.

    Monday and Tuesday are devoted to completing my introduction chapter/literature review, as well as putting finishing touches on conference presentation with co-authors/presenters.

    My format check is due to the Graduate School on Sunday. I have one chapter left to format, as well as back matter. I plan to wrap that up Wednesday morning before leaving town. Otherwise, I’ll have to complete it during down time at the conference.

  6. Meg Welsh says:

    Hi all, I did pretty well with my goals last week, though I over-estimated how much time I would be able to devote toward them. Still, I made some good progress on mapping out one of the diss chapters (on parole) and reworking my CJ job materials for social work jobs. This will be a short work week for me, as I leave on Thursday to join Chez and Nicole for a conference!

    Roberta, I like your work schedule so I am going to mimic it–I get my best writing done first thing in the morning, so it is better to do more administrative tasks in the afternoon when my brain is lagging.

    For Tues. and Weds., I want to follow a schedule of intensive writing work from 6:30 to 830am and 10am to 2pm, then do my non-writing tasks from 3pm to 6pm; Thursday: work on the plane from 11:30 to 1:30; no planned work Fri-Sun.

    Goals for this week:
    Priority #1: Make powerpoint for conference talk on Friday
    Priority #2: Revise my CJ job cover letter for SW and finish writing research statement to send off to trusted reviewer next Monday
    Priority #3: Continue working on parole chapter–main goal: the dreaded lit review
    Priority #4: Start thinking about how I’m going to revise the journal article I just got an R&R for

  7. Nicole says:

    Regarding last week’s goals, in order of done-ness

    1) Get co-authored paper in for conference Monday (and related stuff…)…. DONE
    3) Do the methods chapter– this will not be that bad but has been delayed. It is mostly fusing together existing writing….. LOTS DONE, not yet complete. Trying to finish a good draft today. I really underestimated certain difficulties in it.
    4) Expect critical feedback to get back to me about empirical chapter 3. Hopefully it will not be dire. I have to avoid being discouraged by this…. This happened. I have been trying to not lose time addressing the issues/ things needing pulling through, though the trouble is they overlap with the methods chapter so it’s hard to focus on either while doing one.
    2) Get as far as possible revising diss empirical chapter 2, by filling in info on the cases, now that I have restructured the argument and lit review…… ONLY ONE NEW READING DONE FOR THIS– NOT DONE

    Regarding this week’s goals:
    Definitely feeling under the gun. Defense is 2nd week of July.
    1) Finish methods chapter. Talk through this at the writing center. Decide whether there is time to ask an editor to look it over.
    2) Present conference paper. Start talking with co-authors about target journal/s and kinds of feedback we want first.
    3) Use conference as a way to get ideas for fall syllabus (oy)
    4) Keep fixing chapters under revision:
    a) Ch 2 (major redo)– including implementing comments from writing center. I want to try adding a description of a service fair during the setup (though this may be better in the intro of the diss)
    b) Ch 3 (clarifying argument and kind of causal claim)– may include talking to committee member about 3. This also involves re reading about causality, typological studies. I think doing all this will also help with 2.
    5) Start diss. intro, based on outline– I want to try using writing on a motif of the process I’m studying (poorly described as) a bridge that I’ve used and cut elsewhere– may be better in the diss. conclusion.

  8. for this week, my goals are to pack all my archive gear (and other crap) for Chicago, finish a draft of the conference paper to deliver (so like, 5-7 pages), and do notes for a few books that I won’t be taking with me. I did well with my goal of taking the week off- I checked my work email once and the only work I did was a quick contract assignment. I have shed some of the teaching burnout that cramped my style at semester’s and am looking forward to diving into the dissertation this week. I hope everyone will schedule a break for some point in the summer, breaks are none negotiable!

  9. Steph Hinnershitz says:

    For this week, my goal is to finish up the revisions on my one chapter (about twenty more pages to go–cutting/polishing, etc.) and read one book to add to my introduction. I did pretty good with my goal last week: managed to finish up revisions for a chapter and read a book while I was doing some research for another project.

    As a “side” task that I need to get done that has been lingering since the middle of last semester is finishing up an encyclopedia article, so I really want to get that done this week and have it done with.

  10. droyles says:

    I’m very late in reporting my progress from last week, but I wanted to still do it anyway. I was really uneven in meeting my pomodoro goals, logging two on Tuesday, when I was very sidetracked by contract work, eight on Wednesday, four on Thursday, and nine on Friday. I worked through the chapter to identify holes and bumped my Scrivener to-do list into Evernote, which I’ve been using to keep track of my task list. I didn’t do any work on the book proposal, which I’m going to put off until I have a full draft of this article together.

    On a personal note, I started swimming again last week after a year and a half away from the pool. The first practice was rough, but it’s getting better. Swimming is a lot like writing—both require stamina and determination, and you have to get used to making a lot of small changes over time, on the faith that it will all be worth it.

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