Fall Writes: Week 1

In honor of Labor Day

Decolonize BART map from Black Maps. For whatever reason, Pleasant Hill and Concord are unchanged.

Welcome to the first week of Fall Writes! As we dive in, I wanted to highlight Trish Roberts-Miller’s post on working forty hours a week at Inside Higher Ed. She references the cult of academic “busyness,” wherein we all seem to be in competition over who can be the most crazed about their schedule. One of my personal goals for this year is to cut down on my anxiety by setting more boundaries on my work time and cultivating a sense of presentness. No joke, I’ve been trying to listen to Eckardt Tolle’s The Power of Now on audiobook during my commute, but it tends to make me drowsy. In any case, you might also want to think about how goal-setting might not only make you more productive, but improve your mental and emotional health as well. Don’t be afraid to make meditation, exercise, or mindfulness part of your daily or weekly goals.

And now, without further ado, your weekly and semester goals! And if you haven’t joined us yet but want to, go ahead and introduce yourself, your semester goals, and your goals for the coming week in the comments.



Semester goals: Balance, limit the amount of time I spend on e-mail, trim down a dissertation chapter for submission to an edited collection, overhaul another dissertation chapter using some new research, work through my backlog of oral histories to edit and send off to people.

Weekly goals: Seven hours of work Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and an hour during lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and two hours Monday and Wednesday evenings. Saturday no work except doing an oral history in New York. Submit the first fellowship and job applications of the year, return revised research statement to Dr. Karen.


Semester goals:

Dissertation: I need to crank out crappy first drafts of 1.5 empirical chapters (the .5 may be its own chapter; jury’s still out on that one) and the conclusion. Some of the work involved here will be revising writing I’ve already done, so I’m not starting from scratch. I also will have to allow for time to revise the chapters I’ve already written, which will soon be under review with my most critical (and helpful!) committee member. The big “process” goal here is for me to work on getting my ideas down on the page quickly, and do less of the time-consuming and far less immediately necessary work of editing and citing the literature, which in the past I have used to procrastinate. I have found that accepting that my first draft will be crappy–and that that is ok!–to be very freeing, and it has allowed me to move much more quickly and to feel like I have actually accomplished something. DUH.

Job search: my job docs are all pretty much in final draft form, so the real work now is tailoring for each specific job I’m applying to, and updating docs as I have revelations about the dissertation that might make for a more persuasive argument for why they should hire me!

Starting on Monday, Sept. 22, I will write up my chapter on probation. I need to figure out whether it will be folded in with the chapter on parole, or stand alone. I will send off a draft of this to my diss. advisor by Monday, October 20.

The week of Oct. 20-26 will be devoted to job applications with November deadlines, and to traveling and presenting my work at a conference.

Starting on Monday, Oct. 27, I will start writing up my chapter on welfare. I will send off a draft of this to my diss advisor by Monday, November 24.

Weekly goals: For this coming week: I am sending out a massive wave of apps by the end of the day on Wednesday, so the first part of this week will be devoted to that. On Thursday, I will return to the dissertation, fine-tuning my introduction and two empirical chapters with the goal of sending them off to a committee member by the end of the following week–no later than Friday, September 19.


Semester goals: I think I’m also going to steal Dan’s plan to track my work hours. I have a light teaching load and no preps this semester, so I think it’s realistic to try to spend 35 hours/week on my own projects.

Weekly goals: For this week, I need to organize the research I completed this summer, so I can incorporate it into my journal articles. I would also like to finish a rough draft of a research statement for a fellowship application. Ideally, I would like to spend 20 hours on organizing research and 15 hours on the research statement.


Semester goals:

1) Prisoner incorporation article:
This week I need to get as far as possible on my R and R: sorting comments, writing the memo to explain the changes that are not feasible, making changes that are feasibly (as far as possible this week), and writing into the memo what changes I did make.
2) Faith-based treatment program / church-state boundary project:
This semester I am doing background research for my new project that spins off from the dissertation, with a student. We are a couple weeks into that now. My goal is to have a clearer idea of what I want to propose for internal funding competition, by the end if the semester. I want to apply for the Jan. due date.
3) Beyond punishment paper:
This semester I want to revise a joint paper and get that under review (by December). We (the coauthors) are talking next week.
4) Gender and religion paper:
This semester I want to work on getting my 3rd empirical diss. chapter into article form. I may propose that one to a special issue in mid October. This should be my ASA paper, so I should get it in to ASA for the end of December/early Jan. deadline. If I can submit this paper at the end of this year, that would be awesome. I also would like to present this paper at Miami U this year some time.
5) (longer term; encountering a hurdle right now) Environmental racism + judges project:
I have another paper based on my master’s thesis that I really want to publish, that I have not really worked on since 2010 (when I got very serious about the dissertation). To do this will require doing a search with a resource that I don’t currently have access to–so I’ve been trying to do that. I also will need to review literature in the areas the paper is based on, since before 2010 (which I have not kept up with at all).

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Announcing Fall Writes II

In honor of Labor Day, a map of globalized labor migration streams from Combating Globalization.

` In honor of Labor Day, a map of globalized labor migration streams from Combating Globalization.

Writing groups: they’re not just for summer anymore! Since these writing groups have been so successful, we’re going to go ahead and do another one this fall. It’s not just for historians or just for academics, but for anyone plugging away at a research or writing project. We officially kick off on Monday, September 8th. Here’s how it works: we each decide what we want to accomplish during the fall, and set weekly goals to help us get there. Each week, we report our goals to the group, and a week later tell everyone how we did, along with our new goals for the new week. Along the way, we might spice things up with some Twitter workblasts or other virtual boot camp-y things, but that’s totally up to the group.

So if you want to join us, between now and the 8th, leave a comment on this post to introduce yourself, tell us your overall goals for the summer, and what you’re going to do during the first week. On Monday, I’ll put up a post with all of our weekly goals. As the week comes to a close, come back and let everyone know how you did, and what you want to accomplish the following week. We’ll repeat that for the following eleven weeks. The point of the group is to keep ourselves accountable to incremental tasks building to our larger goals, so it works best if we post every week.

When you’re setting your goals, be specific and realistic. Instead of saying, “I’m going to write every day,” let us know how long or how much you’re going to write, on which days. Are you going to write two hours each day? Four pages a day? Five pomodoros? Are you shooting for a #graftonline? Keeping Historiann‘s cloister-like schedule? Are you going to read some books or articles? Spend a day in archives? Look for grants and fellowships? Track your working hours and commit to forty a week? Let us know! The more specific you are with your goals, the more you’re likely to get done. And instead of planning to write a trilogy of monographs in twelve weeks, set goals that are challenging but attainable. They don’t even need to be writing goals! Maybe you want to finish up all of the research for your dissertation. Maybe you want to launch a website based on your project. We are here to affirm your choices! Just make sure that your goals are realistic, or you’re likely to get disappointed and burn out.

And that’s it! Simple, right? By the time the holidays roll around, you’ll have accomplished more than you would otherwise, and you’ll have a record of all the work you did during the semester. So if you want to join us, go ahead and leave a comment on this post. Can’t wait to write with you all!

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Summer Writes: Week 12

Section from A Christmas Carol written in Gregg shorthand. Source: Wikimedia.

Section from A Christmas Carol written in Gregg shorthand. Source: Wikimedia.

Time runs short here at Summer Writes, but give yourselves a hand for your hard work! Since this is our last week, think back to your goals for the summer, and think about what you can do in the next week to achieve them, or at least to get reasonably close to doing so. I hope you all feel like you got something out of setting goals each week, and congrats to Dr. Nicole!

Happy writing, and check back here in a few weeks for the beginning of Fall Writes!

Weekly Goals:

Nicole: Submitted her dissertation! Congratulations!

Dan: Begin revising article, firm up fellowship letter to send to The Professor Is In, schedule readings for U.S. history courses. One 50′ pom in the morning before archives, two in the evening.

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Summer Writes: Week 11

Cherokee syllabary, showing the script invented by Sequoyah. From the National Library of Medicine's Native Voices.

Cherokee syllabary, showing the script invented by Sequoyah. From the National Library of Medicine’s Native Voices.

Welcome to week 11! We’re really in the homestretch, so it’s time to start wrapping up those summer goals—at least for our purposes, anyway. If you’re like me, you’ll be working right on through August, but it’s good to stop sometimes and reflect on what you’ve accomplished. So as you set your goals this week, think about what you can do to make yourself proud at the end of week 12, whether that means devoting some time to a neglected project, challenging yourself to get a bunch of words down on the page, or hammering our your syllabi for the fall.

And as always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Roberta: My goal is to get that context research completed so I can begin to sketch out a rough draft of chapter two by next week. I continue to complete at least 4 -50minute pomodoro sessions each day and often put in 6. Feeling good about the amount of progress I’ve made so far this summer even if the plan changed dramatically from my original (unrealistic) goals.


1) finish revisions for article and resubmit on Saturday
2) check footnotes/tie up loose ends for two book chapters by Sunday

Melanie: Lately I’ve been working on refining my chapter outlines and rewriting + expanding my first chapter. My goal for the summer is to still finish a draft of my 1950s chapter, which needs to be ready to workshop in early September. My plan to turn in a whole first half might have changed a little bit as I think I may need to add another chapter… but I’m just rolling with it. At the very least, I finally know what this whole project looks like, which is incredibly empowering. Hoping to knock out a few pages by the end of the week when I am back in Philly but not putting much pressure on it as I am TIRED.

Meg: My one must-do task is to pull together a 5 or so-page paper by Thursday and submit it to the panel organizer for a conference I have in a couple of weeks. Anything I accomplish on top of that will be gold!
Goal for Fri-Sun (if still alive): get back to diss. Revisit chapter synopses I wrote and start expanding into more detailed outlines for the remaining two empirical chapters and the intro/lit review.

Dan: This week I want to log four 50′ poms a day for the remaining three days, since it’s Tuesday night already and I’m very behind! But I definitely need to order those books, edit and resubmit the blog post, start on article revisions, and work on job materials.

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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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