Spring Writes: Week 12


Here we are, at the end of the first Spring Writes! I hope everyone found the experience to be at least somewhat useful. If you haven’t added your goals for our last week yet, do so in the comments! And next week we’ll have one last post for any final thoughts before we take a break. Summer Writes will start up in May, so watch this space for updates!

Weekly Goals:

Nicole: Move on to the next thing this week too (probably methods and intro). Defense is still being scheduled but it could be pretty soon so I need to wrap up/ do intro, conclusion and methods chapters that are outlined.

Meg: This week’s goal is to make big headway on a book chapter that is due May 31st on ethnographic fieldwork and prisoner reentry activism. (I must set aside the other stuff as my advisor won’t be able to weigh in on that until next week at the earliest). So far I have a detailed outline of this chapter. Mini-goals for this week:
Monday (today): finish drafting one section (how I entered into the research setting) and re-read a few key articles that will spur my thinking about the other sections.
Wednesday: read through analyses of my field notes and start mapping out my data sections.
Friday: start piecing together a brief lit review on others’ approaches to fieldwork on reentry, institutional barriers to reentry, etc.

Dan: Tuesday I’m going to come home and do eight poms from 3 to 730, and then do eight poms each Wednesday through Saturday, working 1 to 530.


Spring Writes: Week 11

Your writing destiny: fulfilled.
Your writing destiny: fulfilled.

We’re in the home stretch, Spring Writers! This is the week to buckle down to meet your writing goals for the twelve weeks, so set your goals accordingly! And if you’re short on time, think about keeping your writing short, as Danny Heitman recommends in this Opinionator post. (jk-writing succinctly takes a lot of work!)

Weekly Goals:

Meg: I have a deadline of April 28th to finish this paper for a bigger conference. So, I’d like to do that this week. Desired work schedule toward this goal: Monday 11-2pm
Weds. 8am to 1pm
Friday 8am to 1pm
Secondary goal: continue piecing together a book chapter I have due at the end of May. Any time I have left over needs to go toward that.

Nicole: This week’s task is to get the religion chapter into shape from its half-written status; also I need to read about evangelical familialism and at least one other book I don’t want to get too lost in that.

Melanie: Write up outlines.

Dan: Write from 6 to 9:15 (six pomodoros) on Tuesday, 1 to 5:15 (eight pomodoros) on Wednesday, and 1 to 5:15 (eight pomodoros) on Thursday. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I’ll be in Paris because I’m running the Paris Marathon on Sunday! Those pomodoros will include work on three job applications, a blog post, work on a book proposal, and revisiting a dissertation chapter to turn it into a journal article.

Spring Writes: Week 10

We (set writing goals) flawless(ly).
We (set writing goals) flawless(ly).

Sorry for the tardiness in posting! I entered my thirties on Monday with an awesome head cold, so I’ve been a little out of sorts and playing catch up all week. Next week we’ll be back to our regular schedule, I promise.

In the meantime, check out this time management post from Natalie Houston at ProfHacker. I’ve been interested in the GTD method for a while now, but (ironically) can’t seem to find the time to learn more about it. I’ve been using the pomodoro method for some time now, along with very long and detailed to-do lists, but we all want to be more productive, right? So, any GTD aficionados out there? Whether or not you are, tell us about your approach to time management in the comments!

And now, your weekly goals:

Nicole: My goal for this week is to actually make empirical Ch. 3 of my diss. coherent. I had to redo some of the analysis. I am still trying to make it clear and logically follow the last one better. Also, getting from concepts to measures has to be clearer. Separate goal: do the writing for my joint paper, writing up what we laid out in our meeting.

Meg: My main aim for this week is to firm up some analysis I’ve been working on for what will eventually be a diss. chapter. I’m presenting this analysis at a grad. student conference on Friday. To do this, I want to commit to myself to work on my stuff tomorrow (Monday) from 11am to 3pm, Wednesday from noon to 4pm, and Friday morning before the conference.

Spring Writes: Week 9

Let's celebrate your writing successes at Coney Island.
Let’s celebrate your writing successes at Coney Island.

Week 9 is upon us, which means we’re barreling into the homestretch like so many roller coaster cars! Without further ado, here are your writing goals for the week:

Weekly goals:

Nicole: For the week of Sun 3/16- Sat 3/22: I want to finish or get as far as possible toward finishing chapter 3 on gender. It is partly written and the tables are done but everything needs to be tweaked, reordered, etc. Definitely I don’t need as many examples as I have, and the ones I do have I need to sink deeper into with more detail.

Dan: For this week, two applications to be submitted online and one by snail mail, which I’m trying to get out by Friday to avoid astronomical Interfolio prices. Monday I’m going to squeeze in six poms in the evening, from 5 to 830. I’ll even put it in my iCal as an inducement to stick to that schedule, and I’ll do the same thing Tuesday. All this is so that I don’t leave too much work for myself on the plane, because I find that to be really difficult. I have some things that I want to read for later in the week, so I’ll download those to my iPad for the plane, but I want to avoid writing in the air, if at all possible. Alternately, I may also edit some oral history transcripts on the plane. For Thursday I’ll set a modest goal of four poms throughout the day, because my schedule will be a little hectic, and Friday I don’t plan to do any work, aside from maybe some casual reading. Saturday I plan to do some quality brunching, work (maybe oral history editing) on the train to Philly, and then many poms of eating Santucci’s with some of y’all for my 30th birthday!

Spring Writes: Week 8

Our Lady of Weekly Writing Goals
Our Lady of Weekly Writing Goals

Welcome to Week 8! In honor of this week, here are Kurt Vonnegut’s “8 Rules of Fiction Writing,” taken from Bagombo Snuff Box. Number 1 most likely applies to everyone, whereas number 7 is interesting to read in light of Nicholas Kristof’s recent kerfuffle over the “absence” of public intellectuals. Number 6 may be unworkable for non-fiction writers (although we do all make narrative choices) while number 8 points to the “signposting” that my adviser always urged me to do, because readers can be quite lazy. In any case, check them out, and feel free to share your favorite writing rules, of famous provenance or otherwise.

Weekly goals:

Meg: Devote the 6 hours on the plane each way to “my stuff,” which means continued analysis of my probation and parole interview transcripts, making some sense of the data, consulting the recent lit on the topic, and starting to put together the framework for a dissertation chapter/future pub.

Sarah: 1) make the first round of revisions on Chapter 1 in preparation for a workshop later this month 2) process a mountain of scans from NARA from the last few weeks.

Nicole: This week my next huge goal is to try to finish the gender Chapter (3) which is a lot written out but not completed. That would be a great way to start spring break, considering I’m behind on my timeline of many more chapters!

Dan: 4 poms Tuesday and Thursday, wherever I can get them. Wednesday, 8 poms from 3 to 8, Friday 4 poms from 6 to 8, and Saturday 4 poms from 6 to 8 (I want to also get out for a ride that day, hence the modest goal).

Melanie: Put in some big work days on wednesday and friday to try to wrap up this first draft of chapter 3. and sending out this last fellowship out now, for real, I promise.

Mike: Wednesday: 8 poms on Dissertation Proposal, 4 poms on readings.
Thursday: 4 poms on readings for candidacy exams (prepping for a meeting that day)
Friday: 4 poms on dissertation proposal, 6 poms on Fulbright, 6 poms on reading
Saturday: 8 poms on reading, 4 on diss proposal, 4 on Fulbright (Grading in the evening)
Sunday: Grading students exams, 4 poms on Fulbright, 4 on reading

Spring Writes: Week 7

Sometimes  you have to get away.
Sometimes you have to get away.

This week, in honor of my trip to South Africa (PS—I’m in South Africa, y’all!), we turn to a different Knowles sister, who shot the video for her single “Losing You” in Cape Town. I’m posting the link below, but if you haven’t already seen it/heard the song, what are you even doing with your life?

One link this week: the Hemingway app which, contrary to the name, will not make your writing drunker/misogynistickier. I heard about this through Publication Coach, and I’ve previously featured Helen Sword’s Writer’s Diet, which serves a similar function in taking your writing “from flabby to fit.” Try it out with some of your prose this week, and see how it fares! Seems to me that this could be especially useful in trimming down a job letter or research proposal, since those have been on my mind as of late (i.e. the last eight months). And if you have a favorite web-based writing tool, post it in the comments!

And here are your weekly goals:

Meg: Goal #1: Research report is thisclose to being done. Send it off by 11am Monday.
Goal #2: Catch up on some work stuff I have neglected rest of Monday and Tuesday.
Goal #3: Devote at least from 8am to 1pm Wednesday and Friday on my stuff:
Subgoal A: continue data analysis for a paper that is due at the end of April.
Subgoal B: outline/figure out my angle for a book chapter that is due at the end of May.

Nicole: [re “chunks” of chapter two]: I am trying to get the first one, on State Absence, done today or tomorrow. I want to get the Gender one also out this time next week!!! I am behind on my outline, but it makes sense why, because this thing has so much freaking content (i.e. what are now these three chapters).
Also this coming week: after some volleying back and forth, I am going to get my R and R article back in my hands, update the page numbers on the memo, run it by someone, and hopefully get it back to the journal promptly!!

Dan: My major goal for this week is to enjoy the rest of my time in Cape Town! It’s been really wonderful so far. I do have a job app due Friday, so I’ll take care of that on the plane/on the train/once back in France, since I leave here late Thursday. Depending on how I feel, I may go to Paris on Saturday to film ACT UP Paris’ action for International Women’s Day, so I’m not going to set a work goal for then. Next week I’ll be back on the work horse in a big way, but until then, I’m taking it pretty easy.

Roberta: I will do my OWN, dissertation work four days a week rather than the three I’ve been averaging since joining this group. While 3 days a week is far better than the intermittent returns to the work over the previous 6 months, it isn’t good enough. I am trying to be realistic and realize that the daily goal isn’t working yet so I’m committing to 4 days this week with the determination to continue that after our Spring Break.

Mike: I would like to finish a thorough revision of a grant proposal, use the additional time to organize my notes for candidacy exams and hopefully finish up some loose ends within the readings. So my goal for this week is to complete said grant proposal. Today I’d like to look back over it and determine the areas of revision and plan accordingly. That should require two pomidoros.

Tuesday: 6 poms pn grant proposal and 4 poms on reading.

Wednesday: I’ll have some additional teaching duties that day so my load should be lighter on the reading, but I would like to get 4 poms on candidacy.

Thursday: 8 poms on grant revision. 4 on candidacy exams.

Friday: 4 poms on candidacy and hopefully only 4 or so poms on grant.

And, as promised, Solange:

Spring Writes: Week 6

"Gorl, how much did you write?"
“Gorl, how much did you write?”

Welcome to Week 6, Spring Writers! As we head into this week, it might be a good time to take stock of our goals for the semester, and what we need to do from here until the end to reach them. And remember, it’s okay to revise your goals!

With that in mind, here are your goals for the week:

Sarah: Round up the last few docs for UHA and send in the application; submit a proposal for an international conference in October; one day at NARA; and spend at least a day processing my recent archival research. Maybe if I’m feeling extra motivated, I might outline chapter 2.

Nicole: 1) Chapter 2. It is moving, but has gotten very long, and is overdue. Needs to get finished now.
2) Out of my hands still for the time being, but once I get my R and R article back, I need to get it to one more person and then send it back to the journal.
3) Need to do my own 2 par description of what I’m doing in the collaborative punishment paper, and assemble this with others they’ll send me into 1 doc.

Melanie: My goals are to finish the last of my fellowship apps, really and truly get this panel proposal submitted, and to do some Serious Writing on Monday afternoon and all day on Wednesday.

Dan: I need to take into account that I’ll be traveling Wednesday and Thursday, so I’m not going to set a writing goal for myself those days. For Friday and Saturday, I’m going to get four poms each day.


I will:
– Get my JAB conference paper drafted and turned in
– Send a final grant request
– Register for painting class
– Final CENFAD tasks/emails
– Send comments for writer in diss colloq class/attend

I may:
– Submit one or more cfps that have been hanging around on my list

Meg: Main goal for the week: complete and send off research report to one of my dissertation research partners (hopefully this report will serve as the starting point for one of my empirical chapters). To do this, I need to keep the following schedule:
Monday: Write from 8am to noon
Wednesday: Write from 8am to noon
Friday: Devote all day to finishing it up and sending it off.

Bunny: Post to three threaded discussion questions (initial and response), post three papers, tweak a PowerPoint presentation for a briefing to the commanders on Wednesday, and complete four reports for work!

Spring Writes: Week 5

Smoking by our writing goals.
Smoking by our writing goals.

Happy President’s Day, y’all!

Weekly goals:


1. Revised my dissertation proposal
2. Submitted a conference abstract
3. Finalized the date for a symposium I’m organizing
5 poms on Dissertation Proposal
4 poms on developing questions for Candidacy exams

3 poms on Russian ethnographers. Booked with meetings and teaching otherwise.

Heavy dissertation revision proposal day
Rough draft of abstract

Keep up with Russian ethnography

Finish DP proposal revision (keep an eye on bulking up language and gender bibliography)
Submit abstract

Sarah: 1 day at NARA; 1 evening at LoC; keep working on finding a UHA discussant (anyone have ideas for people who could comment on a panel about urban disaster management? March 1 is rapidly approaching…); spend some good, focused time reading the chapter comments I just received.

Nicole: Complete empirical Chapter 2.

Melanie: Submit my conference proposal, another grant app, and write all day on Wednesday.

Dan: Same time and scheduling goals as last week. I have two applications to submit, as well as a blog post for another site.

Spring Writes: Week 4

I'm no angel either... when it comes to demolishing weekly writing goals!!!
I’m no angel either… when it comes to demolishing weekly writing goals!!!

Welcome to Week Four, Spring Writers! This week we’re joined by Mike, who was also part of Fall Writes. Welcome, Mike!

If you’re looking for some writing inspiration, tips on setting a daily writing goals, or just another blog post about how important accountability is, check out Ryan Cordell’s “Writing 20 Minutes Every. Single. Day.” at ProfHacker.

Here are your writing goals for the week:

Sarah: Draft the conference proposal I didn’t get around to last week; continue the long process of finding a discussant for UHA; two full days at NARA working with a new record group; one evening session at LoC to keep up on historiography.

Mike: Monday: 4 poms on Russian Ethnography.
Tuesday: 4 poms on football fandom article and 6 poms on candidacy readings. Make sure to pick up books from the library that you should be reading that day!
Wednesday: 2 poms on Russian ethnography and 2 poms on writing abstract for the conference.
Thursday: 4 poms on Dissertation proposal and 4 poms on readings.
Friday: 4 poms on dissertation proposal and 2 on formal aspects of Russian.
Weekend: Revise methodology section of Fulbright proposal.

Nicole: 1) Chapter 2 is still my main agenda. I am working on it still, not as far as I had wanted to be (target was 2/12 to be done with this draft– ugh). To continue my mining metaphor, I am still pulling things/ “gems” into my revised outline from two 50 ss page documents of raw material (one of prior examples, the other of prior lit and analysis). There have been more things I have been pulling up to make tables that I will or will not use, fill out examples, etc. So, still in media res, though the place of this chapter in the progression of the whole diss. is much clearer now that I revised all my chapter summaries (was not in last week’s goal list but got done this week). In a week’s time I hope to be closer to being done (though I have another commitment beginning Thurs. AM). [Still working on tasks 2, 4, 5 + 6 from last week.]
2) I may be able to get a paper back to a journal this week– out of my hands somewhat– will take a bit of time if so.

Bunny: Better focus, less distraction! Post two papers, discussion question post/reply , and get research accomplished for at least one additional paper!

Meg: Tuesday: work on my stuff from 2 to 5pm
Wednesday: 9am to 1pm
Thursday: 2 to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 1pm

Dan: My time goals are going to be four poms Tuesday and eight Wednesday through Saturday, but on top of that, I’m going to block off the same time Wednesday through Saturday to do this. So on all of those days, I’m going to write from 1 to 5:30.

Spring Writes: Week 3

Can you lick my daily writing habit?
Can you lick my daily writing habit?

Hello, Spring Writers! Welcome to Week 3. If you haven’t added your goals for the week yet, enter them in the comments below, and I’ll add them to this post. In the meantime, check out Karen E. Bender‘s “10 Commandments for Becoming a Writer” if you’re looking for some inspiration, and note her advice on keeping a writing schedule.

And working off of Carly’s goals, last week I shared Claire Potter’s post about “writing in chunks.” Do you take a particular approach to doing the heavy lifting when it comes to writing? Tell us in the comments below.


Carly: Complete the last fellowship app that’s outstanding (I hope it is outstanding!) and finish that UHA proposal I mentioned last week. I plan to finish up a project for CENFAD that should take quite a lot of this week’s hours. And I’m getting into writing the next big drafty chunk of dissertation.

Meg: Same goals as last week.

Nicole: 1) This week I need to finish the “mucking” through to pull out key portions of the previous years of finished writing I did that’s applicable to my 2nd empirical chapter. It took a few days to get almost done with 2011 (moving to now).
2) I also need to do the “mining” of the gold in that muck by placing things in my outline and dumping out the unusable stuff into a file I can find one day.
3) I need to commit to my present outline. I’m taking a talk I gave and using more or deeper examples in the data. There are organizational questions about the whole diss. and its relation to this chapter that will keep coming up, arrg, but I will proceed with the outline I have. (Things like, how much of state policy belongs in chapters that are not “the” main state policy chapter? Do I want the state in every chapter, and to make three different points about state policy, or for it to be everywhere as part of one big point about the contradiction of state presence and absence? Arrg. Maybe moot right now. A decision that will need to get made.)
4) I need to see what’s missing once all the “mined” gems are in the outline, and go to my actual raw data to get more as needed. This is important in terms of using more current fieldwork than what I previously wrote up in some analytical way. This is what I’m most nervous about, as it has the most potential for sinkholes and quicksand (getting off task).
5) I’m going to have to pull up more on the literatures I’ve discussed too, but only to continue along with the outline. I don’t want to get lost there!!
6) I need to begin the chapter with some descriptions of representative organizations. But before knocking myself out, I have to have some reason for the features I decided to describe that fits into the rest of the chapter’s main three themes.
7) THUS: In a week I want to be well into working with finished writing of chapter 2 (you know, sentences and paragraphs that go together, transitions, coherence). I had set the goal of this draft done 2/12!
8) Unrelated to this: hopefully I can get the R and R paper back to the journal by this time next week. This is out of my hands right now.

Bunny: Post four papers, and reply to two threaded discussion questions.

Dan: Four poms on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and eight on Wednesday and Saturday. I’m also going to try to get to the work earlier in the day, probably just by knocking off work as soon as I get up. If I can get that momentum, it really helps. And I want to finish these textbook entries just to get them off of my plate!

Roberta: Dedicating at least 1/2 hour to the dissertation every day is the goal again. Typically, if I actually work on it, I do well more than a 1/2 hour. Yes I can and YES I WILL!

Sarah: Finish UHA panel and send it to the other participants for review (also keep trying to find a discussant); draft initial abstract for a different conference; make archival research plan for the next two months; keep cool and calm about my house’s leaky roof.

Melanie: Finalizing my chapter outlines (every semester!) and meeting with my advisor, getting stuff together for fellowships, UHA proposal, blog post, and doing a f*ckton of reading for a seminar on Friday.