I’m taking a break from doing the happy dance around my house to write this post. I’m doing the happy dance because I JUST SUBMITTED MY TWELVE WEEK ARTICLE!
I’m so thrilled! Now I only have to wait six to nine months for the initial decision from the editors. (Seriously, the academic publishing pipeline is bananas. But that’s probably another post.) In that time, I could probably pump out two or three more articles. In fact, I might. I have other decaying drafts of conference papers and article drafts that I could revise into publishable articles.
I put the finishing touches on my article this week. I converted all of the footnotes to endnotes. I changed all of the American spellings into British English. I proofread one more time, even though I am to the point where I can’t even see my own mistakes any more.
Is my twelve week article perfect? Far from it. I should have revised for six more months. The article lacks a coherent conclusion. I don’t think I made my main point clearly. I’m not sure my evidence supports my argument. The part of my article where I connect the specific to the general feels like a tangential leap, rather than a logical step. I hope that the abstract matches the actual article.
However, I reached a point where I realized that there would be diminishing returns on continuing to revise my article to a state of perfection. I’m glad that I was able to stop the revision process long enough to get brave and click “SUBMIT.”
During the process of writing my article, several things kept me motivated throughout the twelve weeks of writing.
Writing Buddy. My writing buddy has been indispensable, from the early stages of figuring out what my article even about until the crisis a few weeks ago, when I couldn’t figure out how to revise my argument to match my evidence. Making writing social not only improved my productivity, but also helped me to manage anxiety and impostor syndrome. I appreciated having all of Writing Buddy’s help and support.
Blogging. I blogged about the process of writing my article as a way to commit to the full twelve weeks of writing. Once I went public on the blog about my intention to write an article, I had to follow through. Even though only a handful of people read my blog, I didn’t want to be that person who gets bored and quits after the first few weeks. (This blog now has twenty-five posts, a good chunk of which are the twelve week article posts. Twenty-five! This is a new personal record for me. Usually I get bored with blogs after the first three posts.) Blogging about my progress kept me motivated to finish, as well as kept me talking about writing and sharing writing struggles with other people.
Twitter. The Twitterverse, for all of its faults and flaws, is sometimes just brilliant. There are lots of academic writers on Twitter willing to cheer on other writers. I’ve received so much writing support from both close friends and total strangers in my efforts to finish my twelve week article. I was also fortunate to follow (and be followed by!) Wendy Belcher herself. I tweeted her a few questions about journals and writing and she was always willing to answer.
The Spotify Deep Focus Playlist. I only listen to this playlist when I’m editing or writing. I’ve trained myself like one of Pavlov’s dogs: the minute I hear the first few notes, I immediately shift my focus to writing.
Daily writing. Daily writing is absolutely key to writing productivity. I think about how I used to write in the past, in long marathons full of angst and self-recrimination that resulted in little writing. Short daily writing sessions kept so much of my anxiety at bay. I didn’t feel stressed about writing because I was actually doing it. Turns out that writing is the cure for writing dysfunction. Go figure.
Scrivener. I’m using a wonky beta version of Scrivener for Linux (most, but not all features work) and it’s still the best writing solution I’ve found. Trying to work out big structural issues within a Word (or in my case, LibreOffice) document is a nightmare. Scrivener makes writing so much simpler, especially when performing the kind of developmental editing required at the beginning of any article. I made separate texts for each paragraph, which I could then move around and reorder at will. I liked using the snapshot feature, as I could see improvements in my article week by week. I moved my article to LibreOffice only when I was ready to insert Zotero citations.
Letting go of perfectionism. My article is imperfect. I got a bit tangled up in some theory-dense stuff that had me performing mental gymnastics. I’m not convinced that what I wrote makes sense. Nevertheless, after I clicked the big SUBMIT button, I felt elated, yet vulnerable. I’m terrified that the reviewers will be mean to me and tell me that my article is dumb. I’m doing a lot of meditation about letting go these days. Lately, when I meditate, I focus my awareness on the process of of letting go any feelings about my article. I am not my article. My article is not me.
The best part is that I have a few friends who want to work through the twelve week article writing early next year! I’m already planning my next article. I’d also like to teach the twelve week article method in the future. In the meantime, I’m off to new writing adventures, including turning my dissertation into a book that people might actually enjoy reading.
[Photo: Gates Pass at Sunset. Tucson, Arizona, 2014.]