Writers’ group second session: overcoming hurdles and planning a writing schedule

The second virtual meeting of the writers’ group was this week, opening a new month of writing. We started by recapping our goals for May and whether we had met them. As my goals involved two papers that had fixed deadlines during May, I was happy to report that I had submitted these revisions. One paper has also since been granted final acceptance so I was pleased to see that get to the end.

Discussing whether we had met our goals, we started to talk about hurdles in the way of completing goals or even in the way of writing at all. For me, the end of the teaching year has enabled me to concentrate much more on writing than I can do in term time. Others in the group, however, raised issues that had distracted them or affected their motivation. It was suggested that we have a splinter group aside from the main writing group, in which we could share frustrations! Just a few minutes talking about problems felt therapeutic.

Turning to strategies to help get the writing going, we noted the differences between concentrating for short bursts and trying to sit writing for a whole day. While some people could only get going with a long period of time, others saw the difficulty of arranging long periods and the greater practicality of fitting writing around other demands. In my experience (and supported by the reading about writing that I have been doing lately), a lot of it comes down to planning. This helps to avoid wasted time trying to get into some writing. I can have a designated writing time but if I’ve not planned what I will write during it, I sit doing nothing, staring at the screen or moving bits around. So I have been breaking my to do list into micro pieces that will fit around other jobs.

And so to plans for this month. The meeting was useful for me as it prompted me to think about what I need to get finished this month, as I’ll be on leave for a lot of July. My plans are to have full drafts of two chapters, see a paper that I am second author on sent to journal (it’s very close to done), and try to do the analysis for a further project. There are other jobs also on my bonus list that I won’t feel bad about not completing, but that would help if they are done. By setting some goals and reporting back on them, the group members can have some accountability and hopefully get done what they planned.

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