05 October 2011

Writing etc. report

Sample chapter: done. Done enough, that is, to send to recommenders. It still needs work before it's publication-ready: more conversation with critics, more historical support, more direct discussion of a textual problem. But the argument is clear and well-developed.

Grading: oh, so not done. So just barely started.

Syllabus in need of revision, too.

I need to devote myself to teaching for a bit once I get this application finished and sent.

It's very clear that when I have a single writing goal for the week, I do quite well at it, and when I have more than one thing needing attention, I get anxious and scattered and don't do very well at any of my goals.

In fact, I think this may apply more generally: on writing-intensive days, it is very hard to switch gears and think about teaching. One of the reasons writing first thing in the morning is good for me is that that time-slot compartmentalizes the writing.

Female Science Professor had an interesting post about types of worker. I think I am an X1 who has managed to learn to juggle a few things. In grad school I thought I was an X2 but actually I am good at organizing my own structure: I wrote most of my dissertation in a single year on fellowship while also on the job market. It was a stressful time (more because of the job market and personal life than because of the dissertation) but I got a lot done. But I have never been a W. I wish I were, but I'm not.

So today I meant to finish fixing up the chapter, grade some papers, and pay bills. I finished the chapter, graded about half the papers I wanted to, and went to the bank, which was a precondition of the bill-paying. I went to the gym and took the boys to the vet.* Not a bad day. But all the gear-switching was hard.

I still believe in writing first thing. I'm not changing that. But I think I need to consider ways to "do less" but get more done: maybe that "three things" way of listing tasks, or have days that are supposed to be primarily for grading or for Life Stuff after the writing gets done in its little compartment.

*Basement Cat was so good. The Grammarian fought vigorously against going in the carrier, shouted for help to the whole neighborhood, and then gave up and sulked at the back of his carrier once he was loaded into the car. But Basement Cat was a dream. He ignored the Grammarian's pleas for aid and jumped in the carrier when I tossed in some kibble bits. BC is totally venal: anything involving kibble is fine with him. Since I have no head for philosophy or theology, I hesitate to draw eschatalogical conclusions from this. But I assure you that he thinks it is better to reign with kibble than to serve without kibble.


Janice said...

That's pretty impressive on the writing front, isn't it?

I'm staring with a jaundiced eye at the pile of marking that landed on my desk yesterday. Can I squeeze out a few more hours of writing today and tomorrow before I have to face the monster? I hope that I can!

I agree with you that a short to-do list of two or three top-level tasks is probably a good way to add other elements in but keep the writing first and foremost. Let us know how that goes!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Janice, I guess it is. I hadn't thought about anything except being Done Enough. Partly I had thought of that chapter as being "complete," even though I knew that one chunk had the thesis at the end and needed to be inverted, and that there were a lot of notes to myself about adding or fixing this or that. Then I was surprised to find how much work the "complete" chapter needed to be even a "draft" that I could stand to show people I want to impress. But yes, now you mention it, maybe I get to be impressed with my progress.