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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6 thoughts on “Announcing Fall Writes II

  1. Hi everyone! I’m Dan, and I think this is the sixth of these writing groups that I’ve hosted here. People tell me that some of their most productive semesters have been the ones that they did a writing group, so I hope that’s the case for all of you as well. I know it certainly helps me.

    My biggest goal for the semester is balance. It’s my first year in a full-time teaching job in my field (as opposed to last year, when I was teaching mostly English) and I know this could easily take over my life. So at the outset, I’m putting some boundaries on my work to make things more manageable. Sunday and Tuesday will be my big teaching prep days, with some more prep filled in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when I have a break in between classes. Thursday will be for job and fellowship applications. Saturday will be my day off. I know up front that every week is not going to work out like this, but these are my goals.

    I also want to work forty hours a week. I suspect that I, too, am not totally realistic about the amount of time that I spend working even as I let work bleed into nearly every waking moment of my life. But that’s not good for my mental and emotional health, and it’s not good for my balance. So I’m using a new app, Toggl, to track the time that I do spend working. I use it together with Focus Time, but when I’m doing pomodoros, I often will work well into a break if I feel like I’m in a groove. Sometimes I also know that I’m not going to have time to do a full pomodoro, but I don’t want to go in and fiddle with the app’s settings. With Toggl, I can still keep track of these work periods, as well as how much time I spend on different tasks.

    So if I’m working forty hours a week and spending twelve in front of the classroom, that leaves me with twenty-eight other work hours. If I put in seven hours on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, that leaves me with seven more work hours to spread over Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I can get in a solid hour between classes on most days, so that’s another three. Meaning that on Monday and Wednesday I’ll log an additional two hours in the evenings, for a total of forty during the week.

    I’m also limiting the amount of time I spend on e-mail. I might check in on it throughout the day on my phone, but in terms of sorting, responding, and deleting, I’ll two that in one or two fell swoops, not spending more than an hour on it. E-mail is such a horrendous time suck, and it’s not real work.

    So that’s what my work weeks are generally going to look like. In terms of concrete goals, I already have a whole mess of jobs and fellowships for which I’m applying. Those, as I discovered last year, will take up an insane amount of time. On top of those and teaching, I’m going to trim down a dissertation chapter for submission to an edited collection, and overhaul another dissertation chapter using some new research. I’m also going to work through my backlog of oral histories to edit and send off to people—I know I’ve said it before, but this time I really will!

    As for this week in particular, I have one big deal fellowship application to submit, and my first job application of the year to submit. The writing samples for the fellowship application still need some work, but the job application is mostly ready to go, but I want to make sure I set aside some time to give it a good once over and final tweaking before I sent it off. I’m also working with The Professor Is In on my materials, and I have to get a revised research statement back to her.

  2. Hi all, I’m Meg, frequent member and fan of these writing groups. My two big goals this fall are to finish a full first draft of my dissertation and to get a job, or at least make good progress toward getting one imminently thereafter. Thus, my biggest challenge–in keeping with the theme of Dan’s goals–is finding balance between these two goals, the other work I’m doing to pay the rent, and my sanity and health.

    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!

    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.

    Broad strokes goals for the remaining weeks:

    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.

    The goals for the remainder of the year will be determined later–I’ll need to write up my conclusion; at some point, I will hopefully need to write my job talk; and I’ll need to revise chapters as they are returned to me.

    I will set work schedules and productivity goals each week, as they will vary.

  3. Hello everyone. I’m Matt. My big goals this fall are to submit two journal articles and a fellowship application. This is my second year in a TT position. My first year included several preps, new service obligations, ect., and I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked. My goal is to make my own work a priority this year.

    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.

    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.

  4. Hi. I am in my first semester of a new tenure track position. Lots of adjustments. Still figuring out a lot of things…
    Major semester projects:
    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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