Saturday, September 8, 2012

In-the-flesh writing group report

Today, I did something I haven't done since I was a grad student: I met up with some colleagues at a café, we took out our laptops, and we worked on our individual projects, but with the support of the group to push us on.  I'm the new kid in the writing group, so I was introduced to a new approach to these things.  We set a timer for 45 minutes, and we worked in absolute silence for that time — no chit-chat or internet permitted.  (They granted me a waiver on the latter point so I could look up submission guidelines at a few journals.)  When the time period ended, we took a ten-minute break to talk, compare notes on things, and get another cup of coffee.  Then the cycle repeated itself.

And it fucking worked.  For me, at least.  I began to draft the journal article that Whirlwind was nagging me to create.  Better yet, when I hit a wall in my analysis and couldn't figure out how to demonstrate that my ideas were not merely interesting data but theoretically relevant as well, my colleagues discussed the problem with me.  They drew out details by asking me some questions about the nuts-and-bolts stuff, and then they totally surprised me by pointing out that an answer I gave them essentially constituted a theoretical counter-argument to a well-known book in my field.  And boom, I gained a theoretical intervention to undergird my empirical observations.

I am actually excited about drafting this article now!  And, for that matter, about continuing to participate in this writing group, even if that means I'll be spending anywhere between five and seven hours each Saturday working.  Lazing around on Saturday afternoon is generally more fun than working, but I just can't argue with good writing results.


  1. Yay! That sounds awesome. I did the Sat lazing-about thing instead of writing or grading and it felt good, but I'm probably going to regret it.

  2. That sounds awesome. My first instinct was to beg to join you guys. Then I realized that no one with small children could ever do such a thing -- not on top of my current struggle to keep one step ahead of the students. Instead I may take the advice of another blogger that Clarrisa linked to this week. The person wrote about how writing time needs to be carved out every day -- even if only 15-30 minutes. When I wrote my novels in the past, that was how I operated, so I think it would work for me again. I need to do something!! I have a conference in November that looms large.

    I guess we all need to do whatever it is we can do to stay motivated. Sounds like you've got a great way to get work done. :)

  3. I envy you. Now that I live a good ways from campus, schlepping here just to write w/ people is too much. I found some luck using the Pomodoro method this summer, but it sure would be nice to have some kind of social support. I think a little public shaming would help me. :)

  4. I envy you, too. This sounds wonderful.