Summer Writes: Week 12

Section from A Christmas Carol written in Gregg shorthand. Source: Wikimedia.
Section from A Christmas Carol written in Gregg shorthand. Source: Wikimedia.

Time runs short here at Summer Writes, but give yourselves a hand for your hard work! Since this is our last week, think back to your goals for the summer, and think about what you can do in the next week to achieve them, or at least to get reasonably close to doing so. I hope you all feel like you got something out of setting goals each week, and congrats to Dr. Nicole!

Happy writing, and check back here in a few weeks for the beginning of Fall Writes!

Weekly Goals:

Nicole: Submitted her dissertation! Congratulations!

Dan: Begin revising article, firm up fellowship letter to send to The Professor Is In, schedule readings for U.S. history courses. One 50′ pom in the morning before archives, two in the evening.


Summer Writes: Week 11

Cherokee syllabary, showing the script invented by Sequoyah. From the National Library of Medicine's Native Voices.
Cherokee syllabary, showing the script invented by Sequoyah. From the National Library of Medicine’s Native Voices.

Welcome to week 11! We’re really in the homestretch, so it’s time to start wrapping up those summer goals—at least for our purposes, anyway. If you’re like me, you’ll be working right on through August, but it’s good to stop sometimes and reflect on what you’ve accomplished. So as you set your goals this week, think about what you can do to make yourself proud at the end of week 12, whether that means devoting some time to a neglected project, challenging yourself to get a bunch of words down on the page, or hammering our your syllabi for the fall.

And as always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Roberta: My goal is to get that context research completed so I can begin to sketch out a rough draft of chapter two by next week. I continue to complete at least 4 -50minute pomodoro sessions each day and often put in 6. Feeling good about the amount of progress I’ve made so far this summer even if the plan changed dramatically from my original (unrealistic) goals.


1) finish revisions for article and resubmit on Saturday
2) check footnotes/tie up loose ends for two book chapters by Sunday

Melanie: Lately I’ve been working on refining my chapter outlines and rewriting + expanding my first chapter. My goal for the summer is to still finish a draft of my 1950s chapter, which needs to be ready to workshop in early September. My plan to turn in a whole first half might have changed a little bit as I think I may need to add another chapter… but I’m just rolling with it. At the very least, I finally know what this whole project looks like, which is incredibly empowering. Hoping to knock out a few pages by the end of the week when I am back in Philly but not putting much pressure on it as I am TIRED.

Meg: My one must-do task is to pull together a 5 or so-page paper by Thursday and submit it to the panel organizer for a conference I have in a couple of weeks. Anything I accomplish on top of that will be gold!
Goal for Fri-Sun (if still alive): get back to diss. Revisit chapter synopses I wrote and start expanding into more detailed outlines for the remaining two empirical chapters and the intro/lit review.

Dan: This week I want to log four 50′ poms a day for the remaining three days, since it’s Tuesday night already and I’m very behind! But I definitely need to order those books, edit and resubmit the blog post, start on article revisions, and work on job materials.

Summer Writes: Week 10

Manuscript page from a Bible in Nez Perce, from the University of Idaho Library's Special Collections and Archives.
Manuscript page from a Bible in Nez Perce, from the University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Welcome to week 10, folks—we’re barreling toward the end of Summer Writes. Even though we strive for long blocks of uninterrupted writing time, sometimes we fall short of that. Gregory Semenza offers some advice on the “The Value of 10 Minutes” to help us meet our writing goals as we feel ourselves—and our schedules—pulled in a million different directions.

You weekly goals are posted below. As always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:


1. Work on sketching out the remaining two empirical chapters as I envision them, as well as a brief statement on the overall contributions of the diss for one of my letter-writers.
2. Go through my past writing on this topic and assorted notes and start piecing together the intro/lit review chapter.
3. Maintain sanity through deep breathing, controlled consumption of caffeine, and ample play time with the dog.


1) Get revised conclusion to advisor (am done rereading stuff as far as I know; have brainstormed enough; time to finish tying it together) Tues. night or Wed.
2) Accept or reject changes suggested by editor for the whole diss minus conclusion
3) Do whatever tweaks with the conclusion are needed to make it pass; if time run it by editor, too, Thurs. or Mon.
4) Write acknowledgements
5) Format dissertation (margins, page numbers, section breaks, etc.)
6) Reduce abstract to 350 words (shave off 100 or so)
7) Submit diss electronically before Tuesday afternoon grad school appointment to close it all up
8) Keep going with final report for NSF
9) Keep planning R and R steps (rank priorities and keep separate reviewer issues that are not relevant, to respond in memo only)
10) To not get lost every time I briefly try to plan for move, fall teaching

Dan: Monday through Wednesday I’m going to try to log at least four 50-minute poms a day on work, Thursday I’m going up to the Bay Area, and Friday I’m doing an oral history. Concrete goals for this week: figure out course books to order, prepare the oral history, get a post drafted for a new blogging project, and send an article draft to my advisor on Saturday.

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 8

Arabic calligraphy on the side of the Taj Mahal.
Arabic calligraphy on the side of the Taj Mahal.

Welcome to Week 8 of Summer writes! It’s the week after the Fourth of July: do you know where your summer writing goals are?

Usually in a twelve-week writing group, this is where people really start to fall off—don’t let this be you! Stay strong and keep the faith for the next five weeks, and you’ll feel better for it. And as always, happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Nicole: Basically, I still have to complete most of the goals I set out last week. Defense is Tuesday! I have been practicing Q and A for the defense with 2 colleagues and by roughly writing out some of the answers to anticipated questions. But I still need to finish rereading dissertation, and (key) finish preparing the 10 minute presentation covering questions, analytical process, and contributions, practice this tomorrow afternoon with 2 colleagues, and also write the abstract (in the worst case this can be done after the diss. defense but that is less desirable; I will be even more over it then!).

Dan: Monday I’m going to spend with my boyfriend because he has the day off, but Tuesday through Friday I’m going to stick to my five big poms, but adjust my work schedule to be 10 to 12, 130 to 330, and 4 to 5, and see how that goes.

Meg: I am just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is working on my stuff in a 3 to 4 hour chunk in the morning, break for lunch/paid work/ meetings, and then another 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon/evening.

Naoko: – Discuss with data manager options for image sharing
– Discuss with data center re: producing list of moms of eligible for enrollment
– Set clear qualitative training dates and revisit qualitative training brainstorm
– Write introduction and methods for Intergrowth paper

Steph: 1) Complete edits through Chapter Five
2) Begin to revise teaching statement

Summer Writes: Week 7

House of Kemat's Klingon alphabet and number chart.
House of Kemat‘s Klingon alphabet and number chart. You can learn some Klingon from this instructional video.

True story: when I was twelve, my dad dragged us on a cross-country road trip. My act of rebellion was to bring along my Klingon language tape and practice in the backseat.

As usual, leave your goals for the week in the comments if you haven’t done so already, and I’ll add them to the list. Happy writing!

Weekly goals:

Nicole: 1) read the whole dissertation, warts and all. Monday + Tuesday.
2) list for myself some of the possible critiques so the feedback from committee is not too crushing. Monday + Tuesday.
3) get ready to receive some initial feedback from my advisor on the whole package (ack; not sure when)
4) plan a short presentation for the defense (the following week) and find someone who’s not trying to finish to practice it with. Wed, Thurs, Fri.
5) write an abstract and revise that a few times until it’s tight enough to share (either entirely below 350 words, or two versions with one that short) to distribute around the end of the week (by Thursday) or the following Monday.

Chez: Complete formatting, acknowledgements, and abstract – submit final dissertation to the Graduate School (Mon. and Tues.); begin reading a book a committee member recommended to help frame possible methods article; begin planning/possibly outlining possible methods article; complete housing trip.

Meg: I am on track to send round 2 of the parole chapter, plus a rough outline of the women chapter (with data excerpts, concepts, etc.), to my advisor by the end of the day on Tuesday. On Weds., I will need to catch up on paid work that I have neglected. Thurs. I will return to the R & R. I’m not sure how long these revisions are going to take me, and I still want to move forward with the women chapter to meet my goal of a first draft to my advisor by the end of July, so I will likely post again mid-week once I’ve figured out more specific process tasks.

Dan: Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to get in five fifty-minute poms, writing from 10 to 12, 1 to 3, and 330 to 430. Wednesday I’m doing an oral history in the afternoon, so I’ll likely cut that down to two poms in the morning and one or two in the afternoon.

Melanie: I will take a break for the holiday but have a 45 minute talk coming up that I will start to get together in the coming week.

Roberta: 1) to arrange for my sister (archivist) to come and help return the papers to a usable, organized collection 2) include at least 2-50 minute PomsWednesdayThursday and Friday this week in addition to scanning the materials I expect to use in the upcoming two weeks so they are readily accessible and entered into Zotero with the intention of returning to 4-50 minute poms of actual writing next week. Immediate goal–to have a 2 page writing sample from Chapter one ready for my Department’s writing group meeting on Thursday.

Summer Writes: Week 6

Facing pages from The Tale of Kieu, a Vietnamese epic poem written in chữ Nôm script.
Scan from The Tale of Kieu, a Vietnamese epic poem written in chữ Nôm, a vernacular script based on classical Chinese.

Welcome to Week 6! We’re almost to the halfway point of the writing group, which is a good time to take a hard look at your goals for the summer. What do you need to do to get where you want to be seven weeks from now? If you haven’t set your goals for the wek yet, put them in the comments, and happy writing!

Weekly Goals:

Meg: I want to return to the parole chapter as my priority this week, mixing things up with the R & R when I feel stuck. My goal is to write 500 to 750 new words each day, Mon-Sat., and ambitiously get this chapter back to my advisor early next week.

Nicole: In brief, I need to turn in my whole dissertation Wed. or even Tues. night. The remaining thing is revising empirical chapter 3 and then proofreading.

Naoko: – brainstorm requests/guidelines for ultrasound training next week
– begin writing ultrasound MOO with Nanomaxx device in mind
– being qualitative training guide
– submit revised NNIPS-3 paper
– send along revised neonatal referral paper
– complete review for BMC
– if time allows, begin drafting Intergrowth paper

Chez: complete dissertation revisions, complete dissertation formatting, start planning for articles coming out of the diss. To help me focus, I’m setting writing times for myself: Monday 9a-1p and 2-5 p; Tuesday 9a-2p; Wednesday 1-6p; Thursday 3-8p; Friday 9-11:30 a; Saturday as needed.

Dan: One 50-minute pom in the morning and one in the evening, bookending my work in the archives. Also, start preparing my classes for the fall by identifying major tasks and breaking them into discrete tasks.

Steph: Finish editing Chapter Five and integrate some more literature into two parts of the chapter.

Roberta: Most of the work this week is organizing and reorganizing and a return with a vengeance next week to committed writing time.

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

Summer Writes: Week 3

An example of Proto-Elamite, the world's oldest undeciphered script. Source: New Scientist.
An example of Proto-Elamite, the world’s oldest undeciphered script. Source: New Scientist.

Welcome to the third week of Summer Writes! Hopefully your writing is more easily understood than that on the tablet pictured above, which has baffled scholars for generations. Click on the link in the caption to learn more. And yes, I’m aware, as per a conversation with Melanie, that ancient writing systems “aren’t Beyoncé.”

Before diving right into your weekly goals, I wanted to say a little something about impostor syndrome, because it came up in a conversation I had last week with another scholar. You’re probably all familiar with impostor syndrome, the fear among highly successful and/or motivated people that they are inadequate, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re “found out.” While we may know cognitively that this is a silly attitude, it’s one that grips many of us emotionally. In terms of our writing and other work, it can show up in the form of self-doubt, leading us to procrastinate or slowing us down as we second guess ourselves. Caltech Counseling Center has a good breakdown of the issue, with coping suggestions. In CHE‘s advice section, an anonymous scholar has explored the connections between impostor syndrome and other anxiety disorders. Finally, Slate‘s Katy Waldman talks about impostor syndrome among high-achieving women.

Do you have a story about impostor syndrome to share, or maybe some effective coping strategies? Share them in the comments below! And happy writing!

Weekly goals:

Chez: – Complete introduction and send to committee members (I need to do this Monday)
– Write conclusion
– Work on presentation for defense
– Schedule and do a practice defense with friends

Naoko (who dodges goats and water buffaloes while running): – height paper – submit Tuesday morning at the latest
– data collection form for gold standard assessors – I have been avoiding this like a plague, but need it for IRB application, MUST DO!!!!!!!
– IOM IRB application – hopefully have everything, including Nepali translations of consent forms, to submit, hopefully hear back from Dr. Ghimire w/ final permission to submit
– go through Carolyn’s e-mail regarding clinical imaging protocol
– nail down timing for ultrasound training


1) Ch 2 (major redo)–still need to implement previous comments from writing center meeting. I will add in needed information for the cases I am adding to the paper: “Growing our Garden” and any of the ones that are close to the state but not in a hierarchical relationship w/it ,especially that draws on info NOT already in chapter 1! I need to figure out what is missing in terms of talking about implications for participants’ citizenship in the 4 cases and try to say it, though the scale jump from NGOs to clients may be a challenge. [Add a description of a service fair during the setup (though this may be better in the intro of the diss)?] Given what I’m learning about how I’m situating cases in types in Chapter 3 redo, maybe add some discussion of ideal types as it is helpful.

2) Ch 3, clarifying argument and kind of causal claim: read stuff on ideal types and elective affinity (Weber), gender prism recommended by committee member. At least skim the article on morality to see if this is going to be helpful, and Chad’s book review. Talk briefly to someone who knows more about this sociological literature on Wed., and run the causality framing situation by him (being wary of getting sidetracked for the actual defense). Talk about this or ch 2 at the writing center Wed.

3) I need to begin writing the diss. intro, based on outline, and not get overwhelmed by the importance of it being good… just functional is more important right now. [Still not sure if intro or conclusion should discuss and deconstruct motif of the process I’m studying that’s poorly described as, a bridge, written about in my drafts of other stuff but not used in current chapters; thinking this level of abstraction is better in the diss. conclusion.]

4) As time permits, getting feedback on paper presentation this past week and starting to plan fall punishment class.

Meg: Priority #1: Continue working on parole chapter. Revise/reframe based on feedback from conference talk.
Priority #2: Start thinking about how I’m going to revise the journal article I just got an R&R for–hopefully meeting with advisor will happen this week to move that forward.
To meet these goals, I want to keep the following schedule for the week:
Mon: Work on plane back in the morning (6am to 9am), then 2pm to 6pm if I’m not too wiped out.
Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun.: intensive writing work from 6:30 to 830am and 10am to 2pm, then non-writing tasks from 3pm to 6pm.
Weds: 630 to 830am and 3pm to 6pm
Sat.: OFF

Roberta: I’ll write during a dedicated four hour block of time each morning. Specific goal is a minimum of 1000 WORDS A DAY for each of the five writing days this coming week.

Dan: I’m going to continue working on the structure of my article for the coming week, as well as work in new sources, and keep aiming for my 10-noon, 1-3, and 330-430 writing schedule T-F (for a total of ten poms), with the understanding that one of those days is likely going to be partly taken up by buying and setting up a new laptop.

 Melanie: Get caught up on some emailing and revisit my chapter outline. I’m in for the long haul so I’m not getting too aggressive because conference attendance is, for me, an important part of the writing process that doesn’t always yield a word count (beyond texts and tweets).

Dylan: I plan on outlining the chapter this week, graph by graph. If there’s time leftover, I’ll reach out to the next batch of potential interviewees via email.

Steph:  Read one article and skim a book for revisions for my fourth chapter and at least tidy up the introduction for that chapter, as well.