Woo hoo, I did it!! I just sent my manuscript off to my co-authors. I am so freaking excited that I wrote this whole thing in just under one month. I kind of can’t wait to get started on the next one.
Even more exciting, I managed to do this during a really stressful time. We have a major annual deadline this week – and the report that is due on that deadline is primarily my responsibility. That report is now pretty much finished (Hmm, I wonder if I should add it to my November word count? That’s another ~30,000 words), and I submit it on Wednesday. THEN on Thursday I am giving an hour-long seminar on my research to a rather large group of people. I also reviewed 10 grant proposals for a private foundation and reviewed one or two manuscripts for journals, interviewed candidates for an administrative position, traveled to a workshop, and traveled for a family Thankgiving, all in the month of November.
The down side is that now I know I will never again be able to convince myself that I am too busy to write a paper. I’ll have to find more interesting ways to procrastinate.
Remember blog memes? They were fun, but then fell out of fashion… but here’s a nice classic, simple one I saw the other day on Scattered & Random.
- Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
- Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog – some random, some weird.
- Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog. (Naaah, I’m not going to do that.)
- Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
- I used to write a different blog. If you don’t know what it is already, I’m not going to tell you.
- I have eight pets.
- I make the best Manhattans ever.
- I am an inch taller than my husband and enjoy wearing 3-inch heels when we go out.
- My salary is 50% larger than my husband’s. We both enjoy that.
- I refuse to buy a house and instead plan to buy a boat someday. A big one.
- When asked if there are any foods that I don’t eat or don’t like, I can’t come up with anything besides “brains.” I’m sure there must be something else, though.
It’s been two full work weeks since I began this month’s writing project… and I just printed out a nearly-presentable draft. I have to fill in some missing information here and there, make a new table, write the figure captions, write an abstract, and re-run one statistical test on SPSS because I forgot the non-significant p-value… but it’s just about done. I am stunned.
To be fair, this project has been in the works for years, I have written about it in multiple grant proposals, and I have presented preliminary data in talks several times, so I have been thinking about it for a long time. So the writing flowed much more easily than some other papers I have written in the past. But two weeks? This is unprecedented for me. Am I getting better at this? Was I wrong when I thought I couldn’t produce publications at a fast rate… or did I just get lucky this time?
I have been making excellent progress on this paper I’m writing. Yesterday I decided I was done with the shitty first draft, and today I have moved on to writing the second draft. I am already up to 40% of my goal word count for the month. I’m actually very excited about this, and I am finding working on this paper and seeing the word count increase very addictive. My plan now is to have a complete draft ready for my co-authors by the end of the month.
The annoying thing is, I already know that it works when I make myself spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day on a project. I know this. I know it, and I forget it ALL THE TIME. I quit doing it for whatever reason, and then it is months and months before I make myself start trying the 30-minutes-a-day thing. I don’t know why I can’t ever remember how well it works. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to be this dumb!
Every year I review grant proposals for a private foundation which once gave me money. Aside from the usual writing problems, there is one particular problem I see over and over and it drives me crazy. Dear grant proposers, here is a little rule of thumb that I hope you will find helpful:
DON’T CALL YOUR RESEARCH METHOD “CUTTING EDGE” OR “NEW” IF IT IS OVER 10 YEARS OLD.
Upon spending close to an hour today preparing and setting out food for a gathering at work, I had two thoughts:
Thought 1: “This is bullshit. I have a PhD. If they had hired a man for this position they would not expect him to do this.”
Thought 2: “Hey, I’m getting paid $36/hr to put cookies on a plate. That’s awesome.”
I am pleased to report that the writing has been going pretty well. I am up to 3738 “shitty first draft” words, 14% of my goal for the month. I have also been successfully implementing the “Pomodoro” method of getting work done. It’s ridiculously simple, and I’ve used it many times before, and it works really well – and yet somehow I always fall off the wagon at some point. Anyway, the way it works is this: You set a timer for 25 minutes. During that 25 minutes, you work on one task. At the end of the 25 minutes, you get a 5 minute break. Repeat. [You can get a really cute – and free! – Pomodoro timer for your Mac here.]
Ridiculous. And effective.
I have made huge progress on 4 different projects this week, all things I had been avoiding, simply by assigning myself the task of spending at least 25 minutes on each task each day. Sometimes I get motivated to do more than 25 minutes, but I just set the timer again and only do 25 minute increments to avoid getting burned out. I really enjoy switching between the four projects – I get bored and overwhelmed if I spend too much time on one thing, and it’s so fantastic to see such concrete progress across so many things simultaneously.