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 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.

Writing in Chunks

On Facebook, this post sparked some discussion of Scrivener, which is in some ways the ideal writing platform for this kind of approach, because of the split-screen and index card functions. However, I do all of my initial note-taking in Zotero. I use it in conjunction with a background app called BetterSnapTool, which lets you divide your (Mac) screen in a number of different ways. I have keyboard shortcuts to send a window to fill the left half of the screen, and one to do that for the right side of the screen. So it’s easy for me to pop a PDF into the left half of my screen, and a Zotero note window into the right half, and plug away. I like Zotero because you can make things taggable, searchable, linkable, and to keep everything paired with the original source, without having to import the file into the program. Once I’ve taken all of my notes, I have a better idea about what’s important in the story, and I can start dropping the text I’ve already written into Scrivener, where I can start playing with the structure. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but it got the job done.

Claire Bond Potter

Confession: I have not been writing this book in chapters. I have been writing it in chunks.

We always imagine other historians sitting down, calmly and coolly at their desks, putting all the documents in the right order, and starting to write. I actually did that with my first book, but there was a secret: I was working with FBI files, and they all had numbers. The numbers more or less sequenced the narrative for me. I could then use colored post-its to mark out various themes (“gender,” “the state,” “kidnapping,” and so on.) Even when I went to archives not organized by J. Edgar Hoover — the Department of Justice, the FDR LIbrary — there really wasn’t that much to collect, and it all went together pretty easily.

Not this time. My files (paper and virtual, since I switched midway through the research) are just crazy. There are the…

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Spring Writes: Week 2

And with that, 1,000 ASA panels were born.
And with that, 1,000 ASA panels were born.

Haunted by writing woes? Regular goal-setting and low-grade social accountability are here to help! Also, more Beyoncé stills.

But seriously, I bought Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast on Kindle for $2.99 last night, and her advice inspired me to get up a little early this morning to crank out some writing. Historiann has written about the value of continued engagement with her research for making forward progress on a project, and I completely agree. The point of these two together is that for those who have trouble carving out time for that continued engagement, mornings might be your answer. Check out Vanderkam’s work! Claire Potter (aka Tenured Radical) is also making an effort to “write in public” with her current book project, to help demystify the process of producing scholarship. I think we can all sign onto that goal!

Here are your goals for the week:

Carly: Churn out fellowship apps, draft a CFP for the UHA, get as much admin for the semester as I can knocked out so I can devote most of my time going forward to drafting the dissertation.

Meg: Monday: work on dissertation for at least two hours in the morning–should be enough to finish research questions revision. Finish some paid work project stuff and do some class prep for my Saturday course.

Tuesday: teach. Since this is my new class, I’m going to plan to devote most of the day to prep, at least for the first few weeks of the semester, and do paid work with any time leftover in the afternoon.
Wednesday: dissertation. If my research questions are done, start on report.
Thursday: same as Tuesday.
Friday: Work on research report for at least two hours, then prep for Saturday class.
Saturday: teach.
Sunday: off (as much as possible).

Ale: Create outline for said article, especially any areas of law i need to look into or statistics (how many cases under this doctrine succeeded? how many failed? why did they fail?)

Dan: 4 poms Tuesday, and 8 Wednesday—Saturday. As far as deliverables for this week, I’m going to order one mail delivery of a fellowship app tonight, finish another to submit electronically by Friday, and finish first drafts of all of the textbook entries.

Nicole: 1) letter to send with the R and R explaining changes to journal 2) short application for summer $ I desperately 3) I need to form a very detailed outline of my 2nd empirical chapter and dredge up all the applicable raw text I’ve written for this in other doc’s, talks, ppts, etc., to line up with the outline.

Roberta: Research/writing at least 30 minutes a day.

Melanie: Finish up some fellowship apps (which includes edits to my proposal and chapter), revisit my chapter outlines, and write an article abstract.

Sarah: Finish fellowship application #2 (due February 1) and draft a panel proposal for UHA.