Fall Writes: Here We Go Again

Writing groups: they’re not just for summer anymore! Since the second edition of Summer Writes was so blisteringly successful, that we’re doing it again for the 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 a week from today, on Monday, September 1st. Between now and then, 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 Friday of the first week, I’ll put up a new post. In the comments, let everyone know how you did, and what you want to accomplish the following week. Repeat 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 only works 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? Are you going to read some books or articles? Spend a day in archives? Look for grants and fellowships? 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!


6 thoughts on “Fall Writes: Here We Go Again

  1. My big goal for the semester is to defend my dissertation. You know, no big. I think the draft is in a pretty good place right now, and I’m looking at a defense date in late October, so that will take me through about the first eight weeks of the twelve-week period. At the same time, I’m going to be on the job and postdoc markets, and those are time-intensive by themselves, so I’ll need the group to keep me on track. My goals for this week are to make tweaks to chapter two, write up some new material to decide if it’s going to go into chapter three (I didn’t think I would this late in the game, but it’s almost too good to pass up) and finish a complete draft of the application for Big Deal Postdoc.

  2. Dan, you read my mind! Also, did you make it to France?

    I just mapped out my writing schedule for the fall. It is going to be a pretty rough semester for me: I am teaching three different classes, one I’ve taught before, one I’ve taught before but at a different school and using a different book, and one entirely new prep. I’m also working as a research assistant on someone else’s project, and still collecting data for my own project way past my planned end date of earlier this summer (thanks to some great access I ended up getting that will undoubtedly make my project way better). I’m worried about my workload, but the last time I took on this much stuff (the last semester of my master’s degree), I ended up doing really well and getting everything done. I also happened to be living with Dan Royles at the time and listening to a lot of JoJo. Those were the days…

    This week, I am doing an intensive research trip in which I’ll be conducting 10 to 15 in-depth interviews. My experience with these sorts of weeks is that they are incredibly draining. My goal is to do six pomodoros on the plane tomorrow. For the remainder of the week, I am planning on doing no writing at all aside from some informal reflections on the interviews. If I get around to doing anything more than that, great.

    The week after, I will begin my fall writing schedule, which I hope to be three pomodoros a day, Monday through Thursday and eight pomodoros on Friday. My writing will mostly consist of coding interviews and writing memos as a precursor to actual analytic writing, but I am also working on the first chapter of my dissertation and hope to complete it by December.

    I am going to see how this schedule works for me. I teach Monday through Thursday with a long class on Saturday. Weekend teaching will be a new rhythm for me, so I don’t want to go out too hard and then end up disappointed and/or burnt out.

  3. My goal for the semester is to have a draft of my dissertation proposal written. I also hope to be able to parlay that into a number of grants (IREX, ACTR, Boren, Fulbright) as well (one of which I technically already got and one which comes along with the disconcerting caveat that I have a research paper written for their publication by the end of this month – ack!).
    I’m not sure what the best writing strategy for me would be just yet, but I think some combination of pomidoros and pages (to keep my from just reading sources or theory) would be a good go.
    By the end of this week I would like to have 4 pages written of the proposal and to get me there I will complete 4 pomidoros on it today, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as well.

  4. I want to finish a draft of my book by the end of January. It will be full of gaps, questions, areas where I need to do more research, but if I hit that mark I can a) send the rough mss. out to friends for comments; and b) have time for a complete re-write for an August 1 submission.

  5. I need to get LOTS of writing done this fall to stay on track to defend the dissertation by April. Therefore, by the end of December, I need to finish solid drafts of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 and obviously finish all the research through Chapter 6. I also need to get substantial revisions done of Chapters 1-3, and I’d like to not leave that until the spring. Like Dan, I’m also on the job market this fall, so that turns what was already a really busy semester into an insane one. Thankfully, I already have solid drafts of cover letters and other application documents (teaching philosophy, etc.) done, so they’ll just need tweaking for each job. Moreover, after participating in “Summer Writes” I have a good feeling about how much writing I can reasonably accomplish each week so this is, at least theoretically, doable.

    With all that said, I have a really crazy week ahead since it’s my first week back at the Writing Center and also the kick-off week at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies where I will be holding a fellowship this year (well actually for the spring, but it’s still important that I attend all the fall kick-off events). Therefore, this week’s writing goals are limited but still substantial: pick either Chapter 1 or 2 for job application writing sample and revise (the application is due in 2 weeks so this really needs to get done!) & write 5-10 pages of Chapter 4 (I already have about 10 pages written so this may turn into just revisions).

    Thanks again Dan for organizing!

  6. I’m on teaching leave, so my writing goals for the semester are perhaps a bit ambitious. Anyway, here goes:
    * Send a paper to NSDI in September.
    * (Maybe) send a corporate propsal in September.
    * Send a paper to PLPV in October.
    * Send a proposal in October.
    * Send a paper to PLDI in November.
    * Send a proposal in November.
    * Make progress on three other projects so initial papers can be submitted next spring.
    * Release Frenetic-NetKAT system (programming, not writing).
    * Prepare two fresh programming assignments for next spring’s CS 3110.
    * (Maybe) prepare materials for ONR YIP proposal in January.
    * Revise one PhD chapter and another papers and submit them to journals.


    ps. What are pomodoros? They sounds tasty.

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