Category Archives: Writing

November Writing Plan

Well, it’s that time of year again, when the internet explodes with mustaches and writing. I actually can’t remember what the mustache thing is about. Cancer? I am sure I will remember by the end of the month.

Now, it looks like I’ve not been writing at all in months, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been doing lots of writing, just for other venues. But I need to remember that I can work on some not well understood or fleshed out ideas on my blog. I think that’s the point of Digital Writing Month. I personally am choosing Academic Writing Month, since basically all the writing I want to do is for traditional academic venues, such as double blind peer reviewed print journals, books, and so on. This is unusual for me, but strangely not terrifying.

And so, the plan:

  • Finish my portion of the final draft for a column DUE TOMORROW that will be published in Reference User Services Quarterly. I expect this will take 5 Pomodoros minimum, and obviously is VERY TIME SENSITIVE. (Caps for my own benefit). Update 11/2: Turned in, and done in 5 Pomodoros plus a bit of extra time.
  • Write a Call for Proposals for an internal researchy project. This I promised to deliver by the end of last week. Oops. This will take probably 1 Pomodoro if I get my act together. Update 11/2: Done, but did without benefit of Pomodoroing in until 25 minutes.
  • Write ACRL 2013 Cyber Shed proposal, due November 9. 2 Pomodoros, let’s say. Update 11/9: Done with 1 Pomodoro and one bout of checking Twitter incessantly. Also may do a poster proposal for another project, which is probably an additional 2 Pomodoros.Update 11/9: Wishful thinking knows no bounds
  • Book review for the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, due November 15. This will be challenging since it’s a strange hybrid sort of book. So while it’s probably doable in 3 Pomodoros, this is probably underestimating the time I will spend staring in horror at the blank page. Update 11/14: 3 was about right, though I only tracked one. Turned out to be pretty easy to write, and turned in a day early.
  • Revisions for a provisionally accepted article for Information Technology in Libraries that peer reviewers had some good suggestions for that are also challenging to follow. However, they are right and the article won’t be good unless I follow them. This really needs to be done as soon as possible, and will take I have no idea how long. Let’s say 10-15 Pomodoros.
  • Abstract for a paper the Media in Transition conference, which is due on a rolling basis starting in early November. I had an amazingly brilliant idea in the shower one day, which I immediately wrote up whilst in my bathrobe. I would think I could do this in 3 Pomodoros, assuming the idea is still brilliant.
  • Write a solid (and hopefully complete) draft of an article that an editor from a journal asked for based on a conference presentation from very early 2011. This should be about 1500 words I think, and should be doable in 5 Pomodoros if I really get into it. This is a co-written project as well.
  • Write a rough draft of  a mysterious book project that will be something like 25,000 words. I will say more once I feel less weird about this. 1 billion Pomodoros? Ok, this one I will just whale on day by day until it is looking like something. Will base this one on word count alone.
  • Oh yeah, I have an ACRL Tech Connect post due as usual near the end of November. 2000 words, got to get this one done soon. Let’s say 10 Pomodoros.

In terms of strategy I write best in the very early morning, or very quiet late afternoons when the office is empty. Until November 12 it will generally be empty in my office after 2:30, so will aim to get lots of this done then. Weekends are doable if I have a deadline to force me to work. It was also pointed out to me that I have to take some vacation days soon or lose them (but I took a vacation in June! How could this be happening already!) so that might be a good strategy.

That’s the plan! I was sick in bed for nearly 2 days this week, so lots of other stuff to catch up on that has nothing to do with writing. Plus all the other currents of life that keep me trying to keep calm and… well, you know the rest.

Collection analytics (It’s not what you think)

I am in the middle of what my brain thinks is pure brilliance, though it reveals to me that my recollection of Descartes is shakier than I’d believed. But this sort of writing takes time to mature. There is hardly anything worse than half-baked philosophy, or at least reading it while sober.

My reading of late has been fast and furious, because I set myself the task of reading 100 books in 2011. I am up to about 90. One of the things I hope to write about more is the collection of ideas just for the sake of collecting them. 100 is clearly an arbitrary number, particularly since if I have my way I will be much of the way through A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is about 5000 pages long–so far. And yet the urge drives me forward. I want to do it just to say I did it. Well, why do people climb Mount Everest anyway?

I am also creating a database of all my clothes. This is part of the same project (I think) that talks about collecting ideas just for the sake of it. Clothes are the same way. I am “doing analytics” as I like to say on my clothes to prove to myself that a wardrobe of which 25$ is t-shirts in middling condition clearly needs no more t-shirts added. Why conferences thought they were doing me a favor by providing t-shirts instead of tote bags I have no idea. I did promise to share my template with all of you, but I have to figure out how to do it.

So there you have it. The most mundane take possible on the research and writing that’s been driving me along for awhile now. More later, I promise.

Private writing

Earlier this week I went a faculty development workshop on using technology in teaching. Michael Stephens was presenting on how one can use Twitter and blogging to create a constant conversation among the class about the course material. A lot of this was review for me, but I found the idea of a very public and constant conversation potentially really exciting for student engagement. So, for instance, I decided to give my students in my course-integrated instruction sessions my Twitter name and my Google Voice number for texts. These are first year students, so I don’t know how many of them are on Twitter, but I know they text. Note I did not give them my real cell phone number. There’s student engagement, and then there’s creepiness.

What struck me this week is that for all my fascination with the public and the social in media, lately I have personally been most satisfied by the most private of media. Since January 1 of this year I have written every single day in a private paper journal for at least five minutes. Over the years I’ve been a sporadic journal writer, and for the last 2 years I’d only written in my journal a handful of times. Some say that blogging helps hone the craft of writing, but that never has been true for me. For me, and probably for most people, writing starts with the private and moves toward the public. When I was a teenager and throughout college I wrote very personal things on my various blogs, but that was, in retrospect, not such a good idea. So I haven’t been worrying about my public writing at all (other than a book review, deadlines being what they are), but focusing on the writing that takes places in the intensely personal space of paper, pen and thought. By taking the pressure off myself, I am getting excited by engaging with words, even in the high pressure and intense conversational worlds, for instance, Twitter. I just hope that student writers (of any age) are finding the same thing, and not being made to write everything in blogs or tweets, and that young writers still have some private writing spaces in which to develop.