Planning your writing day: the thematic

Set a central question Your work will likely have a big picture idea you’re thinking about as you go.  You might not know exactly what this is immediately, but you must have some idea, or you wouldn’t be writing.  Write down whatever you’ve got—a fully formed idea or a general concept—and then translate it into a question. For example, I spent a couple months scribbling down ideas for my dissertation, and then formed my central research question after I realized what united them all—“What does this have to do with normative masculinity?” The purpose of this question is two-fold. First, it needs to fit on a post-it, short and pithy, so it sharply focuses your thoughts as soon as you see it.  I recommend posting it at your desk so you can refer to it at the start of your writing session or if your focus strays. Second, it needs to relate to every chapter, scene, or conversation you produce,

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Planning your writing day: the practical

Decide on your tracking method I’ve already talked about the pros and cons of word count, which you can take or leave.  But if you decide the cons outweigh the pros, here are some other systems of tracking you might try: Hours worked, of course, is a good one.  I essentially tracked this by noting when I started and stopped working, but you can also make rows of boxes to cross out or lines, or whathaveyou.  The problem with this method is that staring at your computer screen for hours doesn’t really count as hours worked—unless you are actively solving problems, but even then you need to write down your solutions and plans—so it occasionally leads you into spending the time at your desk, but not very wisely. If you’re on outliner, you might track your progress by deciding how many bullet points you want to write in a day, or which scenes, and then cross things off your outline

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The system behind productivity: an overview

It is with an exasperated sigh that I begrudgingly site Cal Newport, and his concept of “deep work,” as the basis for my systematic productivity. [I read his book early on in my process of discovery, and I was as taken with its underlying concepts as I was repelled by its tone.  He is at best a product of his environment—a high pressure, promotion-based, publish or perish, tenure-oriented, win-the-capitalist-game-by-hacking-your-life-until-you-can-squeeze-blood-from-a-carrot kind of guy.  He’s also better than us because he doesn’t use Facebook and goes running in the winter.] But, whatever…he has some good ideas that I used to streamline the habits I was already building, and I’ve got to give credit where it’s due.  Most importantly, while he doesn’t use the terms attunement, engagement, and endorsement, the book still provides no-nonsense tips for turning the Aristotelean tripartite balance into reality. Attunement On episode 65 of Write Now, Sarah Werner talks about the artistic version of the writer that we can

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Surviving four years of trump

This election cycle was god awful, and somehow the results are worse.  Maybe because they were a surprise?  Or maybe because the man who won is the most hateful, fearful, horrible, erratic person to ooze his way across the political field, at least in my lifetime. He wants to screw with my healthcare.  He wants to suppress my rights as a gender non-conformant person.  He wants to control the female-sexed parts of my body. And beyond me–because I am capable of considering such things–he wants to ruin the lives of people of color.  He wants to deport Muslims.  He wants to deport immigrants and stem the arrival of refugees.  He wants to destroy trade agreements and international diplomacy. He wants to build walls, deny climate change, and demonize legitimate journalism.  He wants to appoint more of his ilk. All in the name of making America great again… I am struggling to process the results of this election not only because

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Traveling internationally for the U.S. humanities grad: planning

Over the past seven years of graduate school, I’ve earned the funding to travel overseas on four occasions–once for my MA and three times for my dissertation. Research trip #1 was almost diverted by a freak snowstorm that hit London and threw everyone into such a tizzy that Heathrow closed its runway and the London Times printed a front page story about people helping each other cross the treacherous streets in the “spirit of the blitz.”  It was like…six inches of snow, guys. The day I flew out for research trip #2, VISA cancelled both my debit and credit card in a company wide fraud protection scheme, leaving with me a bare minimum of cash.  My roommate at the time had to mail me my replacement cards, which was a total fiasco I had forcefully forgotten until just now.  That’s worth a post on it’s own. Anyway, research trip #3 went off alright, aside from the horrid customs officer, but

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