Write ON: Week 1 Goals
Write ON: Week 1 Goals

Write ON: Week 1 Goals

Day 1—Monday:

One of the things that I find difficult about tackling a long-form writing project like my dissertation is that I’m not a linear writer. I’ll start writing a paragraph about subject A, find that doing so gives me some new connections about the tangentially-related subject B, and off I hop to write on that… which means I end up with some rather disparate and inchoate chunks by the end of it all.

This morning’s goal is to write a short section on the Picquigny, one of the families who were key patrons of the religious order which I study, and not to bounce off to work on something else. If I get a new idea, I’ll jot it down and come back to it this afternoon.

Session word target: 500 words. 534 words—Goal achieved!


Day 2—Wednesday

Yesterday was spent translating some more charters from Latin and medieval French relating to one of the houses of women which I study, the abbey of Sainte-Élisabeth of Genlis. Today my goal is to write up information about those charters and to then go back through what I’ve written so far about Genlis and knit it together into a more analytical whole.

Session Word Target: 500 words. 818 words—Goal achieved!


Day 3—Friday

I had high hopes for spending yesterday translating the last chunk of charters on Genlis—given a whole day even I could get through two lengthy pieces of florid, fifteenth-century papal Latin, I thought. And then I caught two fingers of my right hand in an overhead garage door yesterday morning and had to spend several hours knocking back Ibuprofen and applying ice packs. No serious damage done, but it definitely put a dampener on the day’s productivity.

With less translation done than I’d hoped, I’m going to work with what I have done for Genlis, and then switch to working some more on my overall chapter about patronage. Since the Friday morning session is the longest of the week, this seems doable—and means I’m giving myself a larger session goal.

Session Word Target: 800 words. 1085 words—Goal achieved!


End-of-week Total: 2437 words.


  1. ksm

    Yvonne – I painfully do the same thing. I write sections in separate word docs and then jump to another and another. Then I am forced at some moment to put them all together. It is shameful. For the current chapter I am drafting on my own time, my goal this week is to go through my random paragraphs put them into one document.
    Let me know how this works or if you have tips.

  2. It’s a tough one! The one thing I’ve found really helpful is switching out of using Word for the drafting of any project whose total length is more than a couple of pages. Word’s really best suited to formatting a finished writing project, I’ve found. For seminar papers, my prospectus, and now for my dissertation, I’ve been using Scrivener. I like it because you can drag and drop chunks into different orders with great ease, to try out different orders, without it taking as much time or being as clunky as in Word, and there’s a split screen mode that lets you compare two parts of your text, or your text and say, a primary source .pdf, at once. I’d be happy to show you how I use it, if you’d be interested?

  3. Mary Springer

    I hope you don’t mind me jumping into the conversation. I have tried both (being a linear writer and a “puzzle-piece” writer). I use Microsoft OneNote to keep track of all my paragraphs and notes, because the tabs and notebooks are really nicely organized. Plus, you can access your notebooks from any computer that has OneNote and Internet (or just the Internet)…pretty handy. You can also store files in the tabs/notebooks. It’s the only think that has kept me organized. I worry about my dissertation, and I am at the only in the beginning stages of writing my chapters. I have much to learn! Scrivener sounds interesting…I’ll have to check this out.

  4. Not at all—the more the merrier! I use something similar to OneNote to organise my research, Evernote. I prefer Scrivener for writing in, but Evernote’s great for keeping track of primary sources, transcriptions/translations, images, etc, and the automatic back-up online is a godsend. I really like being able to keep a photograph of a charter and its transcription in the same place, and being able to quickly cross-reference it with other charters in the same notebook or under a similar tag:

    But it definitely I think takes some trial and error to find what works for you! I only started to use Evernote last September, and it was the first program of this kind I ever used. It made it so much easier to not lose stuff in a morass of nested folders.

  5. I’m going to try that program too! I’m not a linear writer/thinker either and in order to get all my thoughts out, I have to just write and reorganize but by then I hate the copy and paste-ness of it all.

  6. Oh good, I hope you find Scrivener useful! There is a free trial for I think 30 days and then if you want to purchase it there is an academic discount—I don’t regret paying for it at all.
    And sure, I’d be more than happy to help you do that! I’m attending the writing program MWF mornings—are you free after those times?

  7. KSM

    This is the ultimate writer/academic conversation. We should take it to coffee/tea.
    All – I use(d) Scrivener but my big qualm with it, like Mary, is that it is harder to jump between machines. I like the piecemeal approach to it but have found that since you need an individual license per machine it is not helpful for jumping between office computer, tablet, and laptop. I mostly use my laptop but on some days I don’t lug the computer and write in my office, or when I am traveling I bring my tablet to write. I am working on a project out of Texas and need to travel often to workshop and at some of the meetings I just want to use my tablet. If only there was a cloud-like version. I use OneNote which has been brilliant for my note keeping and random thoughts (sometimes grocery lists). I love the tailored search option too.
    Right now though, for another chapter I am working on, I am using Scriv because I’ve hacked this chapter into pieces and need to piece it back together.
    (The low-tech version I usually rely on is printing out the document and cut each paragraph apart and then sitting on the floor rearranging everything.)

  8. KSM

    Yvonne – I am having a major translating fest (aka me and my documents) this weekend because I have a stack I needed to finish last week. If you want to join, let me know. (maybe the Commons?)

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