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).


4 thoughts on “Fall Writes: Week 1

  1. Hi all,
    My writing related goals this week are:
    I. For the R and R: to answer questions from reviewers without messing up the point and flow of the article:
    1) Continue rereading all the policy reports to answer reviewer 2 questions and to pull out key quotes
    2) Make a brief case for how the policy was being pitched around social goals (if there were really any) in the rhetoric–unless this can’t be done in a way that is coherent or relates to what I’m saying, in which case, explain it in the memo.
    3) Make the changes in the article already noted, plus the best points of the above. That includes following up Reviewer 2 feedback to theorize even more. There are some places I can push more, but am concerned about muddying up the clarity.
    4) Any helpful direct quotes from interviews that are topical? If so, add, per reviewer request.
    The big blocks of writing with groups of other faculty are good, though not sufficient to finish quickly.
    II. Do some brief research on a couple of journals for joint ppr (Thurs. call).

  2. Did okay re my goals for last week, logging a little under twenty hours of focused work outside of teaching. That number is actually a little higher because sometimes I forget to start the timer. I also kind of broke my Saturday-as-work-sabbath rule by scheduling an oral history that day, which took about three hours altogether, but oral histories are very rewarding and often don’t feel like work, although they can be emotionally draining. And I did happen to get my job and fellowship apps in, and got my research proposal turned back around to Dr. Karen.

    This week I do want to get closer to my forty-hour goal, using the same work schedule as last week: seven hours of work Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and an hour during lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and two hours Monday and Wednesday evenings. I already know that yesterday I did not get a full seven hours in, partly because I spent a great deal of time going through my e-mail. But I got caught up with a lot of things that way, and my inbox feels much more manageable now. That is all to say, I will have to make up some of that time later in the week if I want to hit my overall time goal. As far as more concrete goals for the week, I will probably need to turn that research proposal back around, since I sent off a third draft earlier this evening. If we can get that squared away, I need to turn my three-page research proposal into a six-page research proposal, and send that off to Dr. Karen for the next round of reviewing. I am also due to send her a first job letter on Wednesday.

  3. I achieved my main goal of getting a big wave of apps out the door last week, but boy, it was painful. I was not emotionally prepared for app submission sites that haven’t been updated since the late 90s. I also got another diss. revision from my advisor, so I need to adjust my timeline for writing and sending things off. As the semester settles in, it is becoming clear to me what my schedule will be, so that is good.

    Goals/schedule for this week:
    Mon.: Work, no writing
    Tues. am: Write up diss revision notes from last week’s meeting; start outlining changes to the chapters.
    Weds-Fri.: Put in at least 4 hours of concentrated work on diss. revisions in the mornings; start working probation analysis into parole chapter.
    Sat.: Finish off second wave of apps that have Oct. 1 deadlines.
    Sun.: Off

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