The End as a New Beginning
The end of a semester is bittersweet. It is both a time to celebrate the learning that took place over the course of 12-14 weeks while also being a major shift in schedule and routine. Tonight, for example, is the first Tuesday evening I will not be teaching or prepping to teach since September. What do I do with my newly found time? I will binge a few shows on Netflix and maybe even grab a fun book from the public library and read on a topic new to me. But I also want this time to be used for advancing some projects that have been set aside because of teaching.
Currently, I have two major writing projects on my desk: a chapter for a textbook (a new challenge for me to write for a different audience) and a chapter for an edited volume. This second project is new and one which I will be working on throughout the next year.
Scheduling Work Weekends
The textbook chapter is 50% finished and should be completed by the end of the calendar year. To accomplish this, I have carved out an entire weekend in my schedule devoted entirely to this project. This weekend immediately follows my grading period and is scheduled purposefully then so that I have no distractions. With three concentrated days to myself, I aim to finish this project or at the very least get the bulk of this text in a document.
Structuring a New Project
The second project has an abstract but will need plenty of new research and investigation before I begin writing it in earnest. During the next eight weeks before teaching begins again, it should be on my priority to sort out a direction for this chapter. I need to create a designated Scrivner file and start pulling together a bibliography. I also need to begin working on some Latin translations that I will be using in the main body. But most of all, I need to pull open my Things list creator and begin tasking out the various components of this project.
The end of a calendar year is not as important of a shift for me as the end of the semester or the end of an academic year. But it is the time of the year when I start my new writing calendar. I will create a new page in my Excel document and put in a few more target goals for 2018 and modify my five-year plan (hello 2022!). These goals are movable and somewhat flexible but setting them in a document has helped me keep track of my writing targets which otherwise would be vague and misguided. Since beginning this tracking system in 2014, I have been able to stay motivated to keep writing, even during the most mundane weeks of the year!
2017 has actually been one of my best writing years ever. I am really pleased that I reached my writing goal of over 30,000 words; I presented four papers on different projects; I submitted two articles for review; I developed a new course for teaching; I spent a long week of research in archives gathering more information for my monograph; one of my articles, accepted in 2016, was published in June.
So yes, there was a lot of work but also a lot of celebration.