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Academic Coaching & Writing

XXIV. An Academic, Writing: Setting the Schedule

Jun 05, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

In the summer, most of us set our own schedules as academics. Sure, we still have conferences, family obligations, and the desire to put some “true” vacation into our summer vacation, but we have the flexibility during the summer to work around these activities to set our own writing routines. This summer, for various reasons, I will only be traveling to one conference in July, with no extended trips to visit family elsewhere. Because of that, I am adamant about trying to preserve my weekends to spend time with my family doing fun, summer things. But, if I want that to happen, I have to be smart about how I set up my weekdays.

Many of us also deal with child-care issues over the summer months. Fortunately, my kids are still young enough that they can go to their preschool year-round, and we are in an economic situation where we can afford that. I know that this can be a big challenge, especially for graduate students and adjunct faculty. If you have any suggestions about how you deal with those issues, please share them in your blog comments.

I am now faced with the challenge of getting my writing and research done, while also making time for attending to my physical and mental well-being during the approximately eight hours a day when my kids are at preschool. Because it gets so hot here so quickly during the day, I’ve decided that I will get up early and work-out in the mornings before it gets unbearably hot. I want to make sure that I start my writing by 9:00 am and spend two solid hours in the Writing Room every day. I learned during the winter Writing Room that when I spend more time than that, my attention starts to wane.

That brings me to 11:00, when I will turn my focus to my social media activities, like blogging and twitter, both for myself and for ACW. I want to return to my writing-related activities by 1:00 pm, taking two hours for “sitting” activities (I stand to write now) such as reading/research, revising, free-writing, and preliminary editing. From 3:00 to around 5:00 pm, I will be standing again, working on typing, transcribing, and incorporating the work I did while I was sitting. Evenings, when the kids are in bed and there is nothing on TV, I will devote to reading just for myself.

Working with my coach, each week I’ll be setting out weekly goals and daily tasks that I want to complete during the Writing Room sessions. Right now, the October 1 book deadline is looming, and it will take all of my focus to get the book done. And I know that I will inevitably have other things that intrude on that schedule (the conference, revising and resubmission requests, etc.). But, over all, I feel pretty confident that I have set myself up for a successful summer.

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