Fall Writes: Week 6

Welcome to week six of Fall Writes! If you’re looking for some writing process inspiration, check out “5 Lessons I Learned Writing Every Day in June” over at ProfHacker.

Your weekly goals are posted below. Happy writing!



1)– I want to finish the revision to get to my (own) editor by Friday (including cutting down almost 2300 words that I’ve added since starting to revise–this is actually BETTER than where things were at last week). The library sessions seem to be good for me so I want to keep with these (including Thurs AM, Fri AM, Sunday early afternoon), but not only.


1) Figure out the specific literature I’m addressing, which should help with focusing my argument. 2) Decide which sections to cut from my diss chapter for the article. To stick to these goals, I’m going to schedule writing times for Thursday and Friday mornings, 3 hours minimum each day.


I aim to work on the probation chapter for two hours today, two hours tomorrow, and two hours “with” Nicole on Sunday afternoon. I really need to have put the finishing touches on the first draft of this chapter by a week from today (10/20) so that I can devote next week to finishing the institutional circuits chapter and maybe only blow my self-imposed deadline for both of these by a week or so.


I’ll be at a research workshop Thursday through Saturday, which is going to eat up a good amount of time. For Tuesday, I have some job applications that need to go in, transcripts to clean up for my digital humanities class project, and I want to continue chipping away at my manuscript revisions—at this point, I’m going back to some research I did a while ago and writing it up. Saving grace for Wednesday will be that two classes are taking midterms, so I can use that time as necessary to get things done. Once the research workshop is over, I’m going to have to grade about sixty midterms, so probably not much writing is going to get done over next weekend.


Fall Writes: Week 3

Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco. Source: Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco. Source: Anti-Eviction Mapping Project

Welcome to Week 3 of Fall Writes! For writing advice this week, check out Erin Wunker’s post, “On Writing and Paying Attention,” at Hook and Eye. And maybe also check out Cathleen Medwick’s post on “How to Silence Your Inner Critic” on Oprah if that seems like it might be useful to you. (Suggesting for a friend!)

And without further ado, our weekly goals:



This week I just want to get through reading all the policy reports and adding my notes from that and from other responses as part of this R and R as margin comments in the article manuscript (pre-changes). Side comments will allow me to think through which of the changes I want to and can make rather than messing up the whole *-ing thing/ losing clarity.


For this week, my goals are as follows: seven hours of work Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, an hour during lunch Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and two hours Monday and Wednesday evenings for a total of forty, including teaching. At least half an hour of work on the book manuscript, Sunday-Friday. No work next Sunday (instead of Saturday, because Sunday is full of fun events). In terms of concrete goals, I need to get a course proposal out to Dr. Karen so that I can get some feedback on it before a big-deal postdoc deadline rolls around, and I will most likely get comments back from her on a job letter, which I will then need to turn around. I also need to review some interview transcripts for Staring Out to Sea, the oral history project for which my digital humanities students will be working to build a website.


This week I need to finish revising an article draft by Friday night, so I can send it to my department writing group. My goal today is to spend five hours revising one section of the article of the article that I’ve been struggling with.On Thursday and Friday I want to spend about eight hours each cleaning up some of the clumsy transitions and underdeveloped paragraphs. On Saturday and Sunday, I want to spend about four hours each day continuing to take notes on the documents I brought back from a recent research trip.


Goals for the week:
1. Complete “institutional circuits” chapter by end of the day tomorrow (Weds.).
2. Spend Thursday and Friday finishing an outline of my probation findings. I want to finish a crappy first draft of this chapter or half-of-a-chapter no later than Oct. 20.
3. Based on the revisions I’ve made to other chapters, I need to revise my introduction and add stuff to my lit review, also by Oct. 20.
4. Sat/Sun–more job apps, hopefully the last for now…

Fall Writes: Week 2

BART that might have been.
BART that might have been. via Eric Fischer/Flickr and SFist

Welcome to Week 2 of Fall Writes! Don’t forget to update us on your goals for the week, if you haven’t done so already. And if you’re lurking/on the fence about joining the writing group, go ahead and introduce yourself in the comments. Virtual accountability and goal-setting make for writing magic, I SWEAR.

If you’re looking for writing tips, check out George Orwell’s Six Rules for Writers and follow @advicetowriters on Twitter if you’re into that kind of thing.



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).


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 for a total of forty, including teaching. No work on Saturday. 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.


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


1) Spend 10 hours revising an article that I need to send to my junior colleagues by September 26 for our department writing group. This includes reading more secondary source material to provide better context in one section.
2)Spend 10 hours working on a fellowship proposal due in November. That was one of my goals for last week, but student issues took up more time than I expected. The proposal is supposed to be ten pages, so I would like to draft 3-4 pages this week.
3)Spend 10-15 hours organizing and taking notes on the archival material I collected this summer.

Summer Writes: Week 9

Still from an exhibition of work by Salt Lake City artist Bob Moss featuring the Deseret alphabet.
Still from an exhibition of work by Salt Lake City artist Bob Moss featuring the Deseret alphabet.

Welcome to week 9: we’re officially two-thirds done with Summer Writes! If you’re looking for other ways to crowdsource your writing accountability before the beginning of Fall Writes (date TBD), check out this post by Raul Pacheco-Vega on #GetYourManuscriptOut. Of course, there’s also the #GraftonLine Facebook group—and if you’re curious, a brief history of #GraftonLine. ProfHacker also had a post last week on tracking your writing, which has some great links and suggestions in the comments. And just in case you missed it, here’s a plug for my latest piece at Chronicle Vitae on why you should apply for a pre-doc and how to make one count.


Weekly Goals:

Meg: The goal for this week is to make sure I have all my illustrative data excerpts for each part of the typology I’m building, and to finish thinking through how it works conceptually. Goal is to write 750 new words every day! Secondary goal is to fine-tune job docs based on some feedback and politely harass my letter writers about getting the letters done for the first few job apps.

Dan: five 50-minute poms each day, plugging away at the article and devoting some serious time to teaching prep—for my two history classes I need to decide what books will need to be ordered from the campus bookstore, and for my DH class I need to decide on a topic for the class project. For the DH class I need to also look at examples of other people’s syllabi for ideas about readings and structure.

Nicole: 1) Change the identified typos in electronic diss. document.

2) Develop conclusion ideas on citizenship more (revision requested by committee). Can send this to my advisor starting early next week.

And as long as 2) is moving:

3) Work on NSF reporting some more.

4) Itemize the suggested R and R changes.


1) Begin editing footnotes for introduction (did that yesterday)
2) Obtain publication permission for photos (did not get to that one–will move that to next week)
3) Read two books for article revisions (also did not get to that–but the week’s technically not over…yet!)

Summer Writes: Week 4—Kill Your Darlings Edition

Photo negative of Rongorongo tablet. Source: Wikipedia.
Photo negative of Rongorongo tablet. Read more about Rongorongo and six other undeciphered scripts here. Source: Wikipedia.

According to Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Well, he may or may not have said that, and if he did, Arthur Quiller-Crouch probably said it first. Stephen King has a riff on the same idea:

Image credit: Adam Drake
Image credit: Adam Drake

The point is that the writing process is both creative and destructive—you have to put words, ideas, and evidence on the page, but you also have to be willing to destroy them when they’re not—or no longer—working. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black talks about this in his own creative process, as well as his enviable work ethic:

Killing your darlings can be daunting, but at the first stage of the writing process, it’s also a relief. If you know you’re going to edit later, you don’t need to worry about making the first draft perfect, and that frees you to just write.

Weekly goals:

Steph: 1) Read article for Chapter Four revisions.
2) Move through at least 15 pages of revisions for Chapter Four.
3) Finish revisions to introduction.

Roberta: My goal this week remains largely the same, a minimum of 4 50-minute poms with 5 minute breaks and no more than 6 poms in a day no matter what (to avoid burnout). I’m going to lower my daily word goal this week so I don’t feel defeated. I’m aiming for 750 words a day for 5 days = 3750 for the week as I continue to work on Chapter 1.

Dan: This week, my goals are pretty much the same as last week—five fifty-minute poms, working 10-12, 1-3, and 330-430.

Nicole: Goals this week– keep triaging and get things to advisor!
1) Read the coming peer feedback on written intro, and do references. Make any necessary adjustments and pass this on to advisor ASAP.
2) Apply the agreed on changes to Chapter 3. This means taking out the “embededdness” argument and any points that sound causal. Replace with associational language and the new phrases. Also spend some time doing within-type contrasts and adding whatever I can say about gender to the within-type generalizations. This is doable.
3) Tues. or Thurs, get methods back from editor, make any necessary tweaks, add a little more on Milwaukee organizing and neighborhood history, and get this to advisor stat!
4) Pull through on Chapter 2 revision. It is moving. I just need to keep pulling it together. Like w/Ch 3, also do some within-type contrasts; talk about how there is the most contestation in one type in particular. This is the last frontier/ will require some brain cells.
5) Start to sketch out the conclusion with the stuff on the bridge metaphor.
6) I can’t get upset about any difficult feedback now.

Chez: – finish my conclusion chapter (Monday!)
– finish my presentation for the defense, incorporating feedback based on last week’s practice run
– do another practice run with friends on Thursday
– reread my dissertation
– anticipate and prepare for likely questions I’ll receive from committee members
– defend on Friday!

Meg: Goal: Mon.-Fri. I aim to write 1,000 words/day and possibly send very rough chapter draft on Fri. night or next Mon. am

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 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 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.