Week 8: Savage Minds Writing Group Check-In

Eight weeks of writing. Where have these eight weeks taken you? Again, I note the awareness of writing that this writing group has provided for so many of us. A consciousness, a mindfulness of the process. And, dare I say a new enjoyment of the writing process?

In this week’s Writers’ Workshop post Dr. Funding, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Grant Writing, Robin Bernstein reflects on grant writing. In the discipline, we perhaps most commonly think of grant writing as utilitarian, as a formulaic type of writing once has to do to get to the real work of anthropology. And yet, Robin offers us a gift here in terms of thinking of grant writing as generative of not just money, but also pleasure in one’s work. She writes:

 Reading and re-reading drafts of a proposal serves to reaffirm my excitement for the work, and that enthusiasm becomes incorporated into the proposal with each revision. It is possible that I am an anomaly in taking pleasure in this process. But perhaps it is just that it allows me to tap into the optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement that led me to choose a career in research in the first place. I can unreservedly dream about what could be, rather than fret about what has come to pass – I can live in a future of my own making while I am writing a grant proposal. 

Taking pleasure in the process. This is a whole different approach to anticipatory anthropology, and to anthropological temporality in general—reflecting on one’s home in anthropology and where it might take you next.

So, as we move in to the last two weeks of the writing group, where are you now, and where are you going? Eight weeks down, two more to go…..

I am an anthropologist and historian of Tibet, and a professor at the University of Colorado. I conduct research, write, lecture, and teach. At any given time, I am probably working on one of the following projects: Tibet, British empire, and the Pangdatsang family; the CIA as an ethnographic subject; contemporary US empire; the ongoing self-immolations in Tibet; the Chushi Gangdrug resistance army; refugee citizenship in the Tibetan diaspora (Canada, India, Nepal, USA); and, anthropology as theoretical storytelling.

7 thoughts on “Week 8: Savage Minds Writing Group Check-In

  1. Arghhhh…So, I’m about a week behind on my schedule. I finished Chapters 1 & 4 of my thesis. My Literature Review (Chapter 2) is almost done, but Chapter 3 needs a lot of attention and I was hoping to have a final draft done by today. I’ve also made significant progress, working with a professor, on turning Chapter 4 into a paper/article. I also have a few symposiums coming up in a few weeks that I am supposed to present at. Meanwhile, my thesis is due April 7th. I’m starting to get a bit stressed, but I’ll get there. My goal for the next check-in is to have a final draft of Chapter 3 finished and sent out for reviews. Then I can shape up the thesis as a whole and begin writing the final Chapter 5: Conclusions and will have one week to make final touches before April 7th. Whoa, a lot to do!

  2. Thought I’d just go ahead and check in now even though Friday still has many hours left in it. Much more productive this week in terms of sitting at my desk and working on revisions, this time to Chapter 3. Feedback is starting to flow in from my peer reviewers and it is all really great in that I know that the more people who read my work, the more defendable it will be come my actual defense and final draft of the dissertation. I also had a committee meeting on Tuesday, and everyone is on board for the process of scheduling a defense to start taking place – FINALLY! Now it feels like gravity is on my side, but I also hope I can keep up with the momentum and get the work done. Not perfect, but done enough to pass and move on. Got lots of feedback from my committee too, so now it is a matter of managing all the feedback I have gotten into workable chunks so that I do not get overwhelmed. Where will I be in two weeks when this group is over? I plan on taking a writing retreat the week after next, so I am hoping I can get my Introduction and Chapter 1 in great shape, as those two chapters really help set the stage and orient the reader to the rest of my analysis in the following 4 chapters. And then there is the Conclusion, of course… I’ve not been so productive and reflective and proactive towards my dissertation the whole time I’ve been writing, so thank you, writing group, for that; it also helps that it coincided with a breakthrough in the process of the dissertation going to defense too, but having this forum has helped me keep perspective and, most of all, KEEP GOING. Good luck all!

  3. In the last few weeks I feel like i have gone back to old ( bad) habits of putting my writing at the very bottom of my daily priorities. I only got a very little bit down this week and I spent very little time thinking of my writing. But next week is another opportunity to get back to it and as this week’s guest post suggested, to find ways to be excited about my project!

  4. Eight weeks along yet I am not much further along than I was 3 weeks ago. A family crisis followed by a bereavement catapulted me out of this circuit of writing and maintaining accountability to this group. The still fragile routine crashed and burned which means that I am back where I started now when this writing group commenced. I will draw inspiration from all the posts during the period I withdrew and attempt to pick up the threads of my thoughts where I left them before life happened.

  5. Sita, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. My condolences, and yes, life does indeed happen and not stop when we are writing. This is so true. Sometimes we write in and through the world around us, and sometimes we have to stop and turn ourselves elsewhere. Sending warmth and comfort for grounding yourself anew in the world. This might be a good time for reading as well as writing, but you know best. Listen to and feel for what you need now…

  6. Contemplating my update for this week. I’ve spent the last three days at a conference, so have been deeply immersed in intellectual conversations, questions, and excitement. Spent time writing and editing my own conference paper, but mostly have been in the excitement of getting-to-writing mode that often accompanies conferencing. Really nice, really inspiring, but now back to the writing. Onward into these last weeks!

  7. Hi all…I’m commenting a bit late but Friday was given over to meeting my new deadline and then the children. I was a week behind schedule due to various life matters but last week got back on track and finally finished my chapter draft and sent it off to my supervisor. It’s interesting seeing the different speeds that people work at and helpful, I can accept that it takes me a little longer to get going as I have taken these 8 weeks (with one week of total interruption) to plan and write a thesis chapter. As a part -time student I feel a luxury of time and not worried by this, though my Mat leave ends in 4 weeks time and I’m sure back in a full time teaching role my study time will become severely limited. I’ve also noticed that due to a year of fieldwork and mat leave I’ve been blissfully non-productive on the conference and article writing front, now so close to work return I’m starting to feel I should get back on that horse but feel quite nervous about it.
    So this week and next week I will be reading and hopefully putting together a work plan for over the summer when I’ll have some space to rebalance work/study/family and find some realistic goals.
    This online group has been brilliant for me. I don’t spend a lot of time with my phd colleagues due to being PT, living outside of the city and family responsibilities. I’ve incorporated the group as a kind distance learning activity and having these weekly goals and check -ins pins my production down and gets me working.
    Would love to do it again!

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