Spring Writes!

Editor capybara says to use less jargon. Photo from this squee-inspiring forum thread.
Editor capybara says to use less jargon. Source: this squee-inspiring thread.

Winter break: it’s great for your sanity (unless you got caught in the Polar Vortex, that is) and maybe even good for a research trip, but probably not so great for your writing schedule. So with that in mind, we’re kicking off another writing group this Monday, January 20th! Between now and then, leave a comment on this post to introduce yourself, tell us your overall goals for the spring, 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? 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 Passover/Tax Day/Easter/Earth Day rolls 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!


8 thoughts on “Spring Writes!

  1. My tasks (roughly in order of priority):
    1. Finish up and submit a journal article with a deadline of January 31st. Write 8 hours per day every day until it’s done.
    2. Finish writing a syllabus for a new course and finish revising another. Deadline: January 25th.
    3. Dissertation goal: review the research questions I had from the beginning of my study (in my prospectus) and revisit them now that I am done collecting data. Revise as necessary and come up with a plan for how I am going to answer each as a precursor to a chapter plan.

  2. Hi, I’m Dan. I run this.

    Semester goals:

    1. Work up formal book proposal for oral history collection, including an introduction and sample chapter.
    2. Clear out backlog of unreviewed and untranscribed oral histories for African American AIDS Activism Oral History Project
    3. Spin off journal article from dissertation.
    4. Five textbook entries, due mid-February.
    5. Last semester I got into the bad habit of starting my day by doing Rosetta Stone first thing in the morning, which was fun but also gave me a false sense of accomplishment, and I think led me to be less productive for the rest of the day. So as a general approach to work, I’m going to use Rosetta Stone and work for the couple of MOOCs (one on databases and one on social network analysis) that I’m taking as rewards for meeting my writing goals. Is it perverse to reward successful work with yet more work? Indeed it is.

    Weekly goals:

    1. Monday is going to be a full teaching day, so I’m not setting a writing goal for that day. Tuesday is much better, so I’m going to set a writing goal of four pomodoros. Wednesday through Saturday, I’m going to set a writing goal of eight poms/day. Sunday I will do any class prep that I still need to do for the rest of the week, but I want it to be mostly a leisure day.

  3. Between now and the first week of February, I am doing non-diss work as well as getting a bunch of applications for grants in, and doing some art stuff. From Feb-April my hope is to write down approx the next 80-100 pages of rough dissertation, work on turning part of the section I already wrote into a journal article, and writing a conference paper. (I’ll be on honeymoon 2/26-3/11 no work at all.) From April-May, I’m hoping to do enough rough drafting to really figure out what the next pieces are to research, which probably means developing the next part of my oral history project. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I feel okay about all this.

  4. Fine, ok, fine. I’m here. I’m Sarah, and I have a dissertation to write. I’m a PhD student at Temple, but I’m working at the Air and Space Museum until the end of the semester. I’m embracing all sorts of change this year, including a (hand-written) dissertation journal, a bi-weekly writer’s support group, and learning how to be a historian of science and technology by osmosis. I will add the Write of Spring (amiright?) to the list.

    Semester goals: five more fellowship applications, one conference paper proposal, one conference panel I’m organizing, finish DC-based archival research for realz, three drafted chapters (I am almost done with one). Continue treating my PhD like a 9-to-5 job, wherein I dress the part and show up to a cubicle every day. Avoid burning out (self care, run some races, etc.).

    This coming week’s goals: finish current chapter and send off one fellowship application by January 27.

  5. Hi. I’m Nicole, I am new here. By next Monday (1/27/14) I need to finish revising a “revise and resubmit” paper. To get there, I have to gather info for the 3rd of 3 major topics ID’d by the reviewers as wanting (direct quotes/ data use issues). Info-gathering for the 1st of 3 (lit review / contribution issues) is done and the 2nd of 3 (policy info) is 98% done. I have to make the changes in the article itself for all three areas without losing the main point and clarity. No small feat!

  6. Hi, i’m Alessandra and I am not an academic. I’m a lawyer who wants to write a law review article by Easter (or draft at least).
    My goals this week are:
    1. finish this (*&*&^&*((*& complaint in one case I have
    2. outline the idea for the law review article – right now I plan to write about Caremark issues in light of the financial crisis of 2008 and the lack of director culpability as seen through the lens of Delaware law.
    3. reach out to law professors of mine who expressed interest in helping me get published (i’m five years out).

  7. Semester Goals:
    1. Revise and Resubmit article on football fandom.
    2. Successfully write and defend candidacy exams
    3. Successfully revise and defend dissertation proposal.
    4. Submit completed Fulbright-Hays grant.
    5. Submit article on political posters.
    6. Apply for this conference http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2014/panels.php5?PanelID=3030
    7. Organize and pull off day long symposium on ‘Discourse’.

    Weekly goals:
    Mondays have two seminars and are at times quite full, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are mostly open and I should split that time between revising the dissertation proposal and reading for candidacy exams. Wednesdays and Fridays are teaching and Forum days (generally Wednesday is fairly long) and since I teach at 11:10, I generally devote the mornings to lesson planning and some of the days to grading etc. I am also trying to make a personal commitment to keeping my superior rating for Russian and I should spend at least some time in those evenings reading up on Russian sites relevant to my research and expanding my horizons by reading ethnographies in Russian by the prominent Russian scholars (with whom I hope to correspond!).

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