Sunday, November 24, 2013

Third update on Academic Whatever-it-is Month

Well, this week I pretty much fell down on the job with the academic writing. Not even the strategy of using small periods of time to do work could help me because I was using even those small periods of time to read and comment on student writing. Last week saw me do just about nothing on my paper. This week I'm not sure what will happen. Part of it might be spent doing family-oriented Thanksgiving things (including traveling), and another part will be spent on grading, so I don't have high hopes for the last week of November. It has been an interesting experiment, though. Hopefully I'll get some work done during the long winter break...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another update on Academic Writing Month

At some point this week I despaired of getting anything done, but I managed to get some writing done in some of the in-between times, like when I was on the train in the morning or the afternoon. For instance, I spent some time on the train home on the 13th retranslating a paragraph from a preface that I had only paraphrased before. Having to look at that paragraph more closely in order to translate it gave me some more ideas regarding what to say about that paragraph and the context the preface was creating for the main text. So I got the sense from that exercise that there are useful or productive things that can get done in these small periods of time, like 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there.

I also got some inspiration on Friday afternoon from a monthly writers group that I try to go to. Even though we weren't talking about my writing, hearing and talking to others about their writing gave me a feeling that I was part of an intellectual community; I didn't feel quite so alone working on this as I sometimes feel.

In total, I did about 4 hours of writing this week. (I know that's less than the 5 hours I'm supposed to do, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it.) We'll see how next week goes for writing. I'm making progress, which is better than not getting anything done...

Next update: Next week!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Update on Academic Writing Month

So it has been about a week since I wrote up my goals for Academic Writing Month. I kept them fairly modest (about 5 hours per week, more if I can manage it, working toward getting a conference paper in shape for submission to a journal). While I did make some progress on the article this past week, I didn't quite make the 5-hour goal. I logged about 4 1/2 hours. I had quite a bit of grading to do this past week, so it cut into the writing time. But I did so some writing while on the train into school, and on Tuesday and Friday mornings I also had some time to write, which I think I used well. I also got some books from the library and ILL and skimmed through them, reading a few chapters that I thought might be relevant.

This week's challenges are the day off today (we're doing some family things), and tomorrow's meeting at 9 a.m. (Which means I'll lose some time for Tuesday morning writing.) I also have a Friday afternoon meeting to prepare for, and a bunch of literature reviews to read by the end of the week. I'll try to make up the lost time, though, from last week.

As I say, I'm making progress, and I'm still interested in my topic (which is always a good thing). I found that one chapter I got through ILL is giving me some useful concepts and terms for my own paper, and that some of the other books that I borrowed from the library may not be that helpful. (Which is OK--I don't want to try to force them into my paper.)

Next update: next week!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Academic Writing Month 2013 goals

Late last summer after I got a draft of a paper done and before the fall semester started, I decided to finish revising a conference paper to make it a (hopefully) publishable article by the end of this semester. I did some work in September, but as October dragged on, I found it increasingly difficult to work on my own writing, and I put the paper aside. November is Academic Writing Month, so I'm going to use this month to get back to work on the paper. I have the basic structure of the essay, but I need to do some work on the literature review part and flesh out some of the arguments and support.

I basically have only one goal for the month: to finish revising the paper so that I can send it out for review in December. I realize that I will need to break down that work into smaller pieces so that I don't fall behind, but I'm not interested in keeping track of daily word counts. I think for me it would be better to say how much time I'll spend on the paper. I think my best bet is to say that I will spend an average of at least 5 hours per week on the paper. (If that seems too low, it's because I'm teaching 4 writing courses this semester and I don't want to overly stress myself by setting unrealistic goals. I know that for me, that's counterproductive.) 

Tomorrow part of my job will be to go to the library and pick up a book that might figure into my literature review. (Just getting me to do that is a major achievement! My recent visits to the library have only taken me as far as the coffee shop next to the entrance...)

Back to grading now...

[Update, 7:55 p.m.: I think one thing I should try are some Pomodoro techniques. When I was working on my dissertation, I was helped forward by the technique of writing non-stop for 20 minutes, then doing research for 10 minutes, and then another 20 minutes of writing, followed by another 10 minutes of research. (At least I think that's what I did. Something like that. Maybe it was 15/10/15/10 or something like that.) At any rate, it got me writing instead of reading, which helped. Maybe it will help this time, too.]