Friday, May 27, 2011

Colonial Diaries

This is the last day of the Sixteen-Week Challenge, which I issued in January. I had almost forgotten to stop up, and take stock. And to change the rhythm of my work for the summer months. The challenge begins again in mid-August, running until Christmas. That is, I have two periods every year in which I make a concerted effort to protect and make use of those 240 ideal hours of writing time.

This also means the end of my regular blogging routine. This summer I'm going to be jogging three times a week instead, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and I will be writing on my book for an hour Tuesday and Thursday mornings (which is when I've been jogging). For reasons that I'm now going to explain, I'm going to blog very briefly and without much discipline in the evenings.

This year, I'm trying something new for the whole month of June. The HR department at the Copenhagen Business School has enlisted me to do something for all the researchers. We decided to invite them to participate in what we're calling the CBS Writer's Colony: a virtual community of scholars who see the month of June, after the end of exams and before the summer vacation, as a "big block of time" (to use Tara Gray's phrase) in which to "get some writing done".

Big blocks of time are too often squandered because we don't carve them up into smaller blocks of time (like hours and half hours). So we sent out a mail asking everyone who has a piece of writing that they hope to complete before they go on vacation to help us build a sense of community around the problem of writing for the whole month of June. We will bring them together regularly to help them not only improve their writing (and I will even do some editing for them) but to support them in their efforts get something done. I will introduce them to Writing Process Reengineering and, of course, some of Jonathan's "stupid motivational tricks".

We're having a kick-off meeting this afternoon. There will be some of the usual math: four weeks of five working days, with a maximum of four hours of writing each day (and, I will suggest, a minimum of fifteen minutes). That's 80 hours in an ideal world. How ideal will your June be? And what do you hope to accomplish in those 80 hours. It can be useful to work on a paper one paragraph at a time for 30 minutes (including taking a short break between sessions). That's 160 sessions. A standard journal articles consists of 8000 words composed into 200-word paragraphs. About 40 paragraphs. Your problem for the month of June, then, is to figure out how (when, where, what) you are going write those paragraphs.

We will form some smaller groups that will meet once a week so that the writers can report on progress and keep each other focused. We will also facilitate an exchange of papers for brief and efficient commenting. Most of the work (the writing) will, of course, be done alone. But it will be nice, I think, to know that there are some 30 writers at the School who are engaged in the same struggle.

To establish some continuity, I'm going to use this blog to keep a diary of our progress and activities, writing more or less every evening to keep everybody informed of where we are, and where we're going. I hope that might also be interesting to the regular readers of this blog.


Tanya Golash-Boza said...

Sounds like a great project!

I often wonder if it is best to have the accountability groups along with the feedback groups or if it works best to separate them.

I look forward to hearing how it moves forward.

Jonathan said...

I think it will be interesting for the readers of the blog to follow the progress of this.