Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Accountability and Writing: it takes a village

When we left NYC, my adviser warned that many students find it difficult to keep the momentum going once away from the academic solidarity of grad school.  As I had already experienced that during my year of "maternity leave" with Q (meaning I paid tuition, but barely did any work), I knew she was right. Luckily, I earned a fellowship for the next year of Q's life, which gave me enough to pay for Q to go part-time to a lovely in-home daycare.  It was a few months later, however, that H got a job across the country and my adviser sounded the above warning. I scrambled for childcare once we arrived at our new home and started hitting up the local college's library. I had an article, which I needed to finish, and I did manage to pull it together enough to do so, but I failed to hit a groove. I was writing for deadlines and, as many grad students know, those deadlines can be faraway and less than effective at inspiring work.

Soon after, we bought a house and the paperwork and moving was left to me (I might have said we would never move again at this point). Oh, and then we decided to have Z.

What I'm saying is: life, as it does for many of us, kept happening and my writing goals were always the first by the wayside.  (Today, for example, H was home from work, but the girls and I have colds. Z wanted to nurse most of the day and it is pretty difficult to write while checking printed materials and hold a nursing baby, so even with the extra help, scholarship lost. I told H that if he ever wondered why my dissertation never gets finished to look at today. He asked, "This happens every day?" I replied, "Something happens every day.") I kept trying to give myself deadlines by applying for conferences, but it wasn't sustainable.

Finally, as mentioned in my year in review post, I decided to write a page a day. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  Two friends and I decided to keep on top of each other.  This method worked well until Z's birth, when she and my teaching load eclipsed all else (as noted in my hopeful, yet not reflective of reality weekly schedule).  Last week, however, another friend decided to introduce group accountability on a larger scale.  She got the idea from the Notorious PhD.  It is a 12 week system and we write up weekly goals. Those that fail to meet them will be booted. My friend even made up a cute website for us.

My goal this week is to finish my "master" table. I'll post an update of my work every Tuesday - that's the day we need to let everyone know how we did! For more on the success of making daily writing a goal, see this entry from Get a Life, PhD.

No comments:

Post a Comment