Saturday, November 15, 2014

#AcWriMo - Academic Writing Month (Part 2)

November. The first semester has hummed along at a steady clip for two months. I've had time to get to know colleagues, write and submit, run, and even relax a little. It seemed that I might achieve work-life balance after many years without it. 

Then, BAM - November! This is me on 11/14:
Let's review. I knew that it would be a busy month. I had decided to apply for a teaching grant (due 11/3) to buy materials for a new course. I'm traveling for a conference the weekend before Thanksgiving, and then again for the holiday, plus I agreed to  do a guest lecture on eating disorders in a sports psychology course. And that first year self-report, due the 24th, which needs to be drafted early enough that generous colleagues can provide feedback. So I needed to get ahead of the game. 

My #AcWriMo goals included a mix of necessary tasks and additional objectives, which I thought were reasonable:
  • Complete teaching enhancement grant
  • Complete first year self-report
  • Finish and submit two in-progress papers
  • Revise and resubmit dissertation manuscript
It started with the teaching grant application. Syllabus for a new course I've never taught, timeline, budget, proposal, and letter of support (which I wrote myself). Despite my head start, there was a bit of cramming the night before to make the pieces cohere. Fortunately, the eating disorders lecture occurred in the same week span as the same topic in my own courses, so there was only a bit of extra work there. Though I learned that four straight hours of teaching with no break = fatigue and the 10,000-step buzz from my FitBit by 1:00 pm. Conference poster is nearly done, I've made steady progress on the revision and first year report. And I submitted one of those in-progress manuscripts.

So where am I? The concrete achievements sound pretty good, except that the workload is catching up to me. I set a goal of writing for at least one hour every day, as I would really like to get into a daily writing habit. The first week went well; I skipped one day, but exceeded the total for the week. I realized that finishing the revisions for an invited resubmission is NOT reasonable, considering the work involved. So I edited that one to "address revise and resubmit invitation," which I can make progress on for the next few weeks. 

But this week, I skipped three days of writing - my teaching days, which are exceptionally busy, and require either early mornings or late evenings to squeeze in writing. One hour isn't that much, so I could have done this. Though I realized that I really, really enjoy having nights off during the week. Right now, I don't think I'm willing to spend two or three nights per week working. I've done it for years and I'm tired. I could feel guilty about this, but I think it's reasonable. I think about Tanya Golash-Boza's commitment to a 40-hour week and wonder if it's possible to achieve it as a junior faculty member. So I have to think of another way.

Some options include:
  • Spending less time on Twitter
  • Breaking the hour into 20-minute blocks
  • Closing the door after office hours, no matter who wants what
  • Accepting that MWF are not writing days
I don't like the first or the last; I get a lot from the academic support and suggestion network on Twitter, and I learn about valuable research in my area. And I'm not a quitter. So this week, despite travel, I will schedule time to write each day and commit to sticking with it. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Quikcat said...

I find you comments about a work life balance frequently thought provoking. I read all your posts and I can not escape the feeling that you pose a dichotomy where none exists. Your write about your career like a man writes about his lover.

You set aside time for it.
You think about about it throughout the day.
You see it in the faces of your friends and colleagues.
You read about it in the words of others.

This is not to say that you are wrong, in your desire to make time for other things in your life. Even the most infatuated lovers need time apart. But your work is always with you. There is no balance with love, and you love being an academic. I say celebrate that love, and take it with you wherever you go.