Week One: Online Writing Group

Welcome to the first week of the Summer 2015 Online Writing Group!

This is week one of the inaugural online writing group. This post includes two lists of goals (everyone’s goals look fantastic!), a project management technique you can try out, and some hyperlinks you can follow and read to procrastinate starting on your first objective (you’re welcome).

At the end of the post you will find goals that each participant has submitted:

  1. A list of big picture goals–what everyone hopes to achieve by the end of our eight week session
  2. A list of first step goals–what everyone hopes to achieve by the end of our first week

I’d also like to share a quick and fun project management tip with you all. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique and was developed by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. The technique (which is popular, so you might have either heard of it before or you might already be using it) employs a kitchen timer (preferably a tomato timer [hence, the pomodoro] set to twenty-five minutes, and a willing participant (that’s you!) to work, without distraction, for the entire timed “pomodoro.” You must set your own objective for each timed pomodoro, and once you get a handle on the pace of your work, you can identify how many pomodoros it might take you to accomplish a specific project.

I usually do a

I usually do a “warm-up” pomodoro for really big projects–I get all of my materials ready and psych myself up to start working

And in the spirit of gamification, I’ll let you know how I track my pomodoros. I made myself a little tomato picture and put it in a frame under glass. I add a hash mark each time I complete a true pomodoro (I don’t count the ones that are interrupted by students or colleagues during my student conference hours), and then I add them up at the end of each month. It’s nice to quantify the work I do, and I like to compete against myself to improve upon each month.

Pomodoro Gamification

I am the epitome of nerd.

I first learned about this technique at a professional development workshop led by a colleague of mine in the philosophy department. He talked about a number of different time and project management approaches, and this was, by far, my favorite. When it comes to project management techniques, it’s important to find one that you like and that fits with your style of working and writing. Try this one out; hopefully it will work for you!

Big Picture Goals:

  • Anne: My eight week objective is to make some sort of working draft(s) for my novel in stories that I want to eventually complete. I’m still working on The Circus Man, so I’m thinking of continuing that. I want to have at least three different chapters or stories going, one from first person p.o.v of the three main characters of my novel. And I wanted to start a draft for another novel in stories that I’m writing.
  • Anuar: Over these eight weeks I will be working on a motivational book, titled Looking for Stars in the Middle of the Darkness, that I’m planning on getting published soon. My eight week objective is to finish at least twenty chapters of that book.
  • Bev: Finish two more letters and revisions on Seven Bridges; send manuscript to at least four more agents; have lunch with Laura Power! (I can let Bev know right now that this is a totally accomplish-able goal!)
  • Bonnie: My project is to write a report for the Illinois Consortium for Studies and Programs Abroad about my term as the faculty liaison in the fall of 2014.
  • Laura: I’m going to finish a short story called “Sunshine Delay” that I started about two years ago; and I’ll begin and finish a new short story, tentatively titled “Invitation to the Funeral”.
  • Lisa: My eight week objective is to finish two chapters of the children’s chapter book I am starting. And, I would like to revise one short story.
  • Mary: I am absolutely using this as a way to force myself to keep the blog I started about a month ago up to date. So, my “big picture” is to have a consistently updated blog with at least four well-written, in depth posts.
  • Matthew: My super-awesome objective is to finish a short story that’s been sitting idle for several months, almost finished. But since that’ll take an afternoon at most, I think the primary objective should also be to finish a rough draft of a new story.
  • Mike: My eight-week goal is to complete a story called “Her Very Fabric” from many years ago. I want to integrate some notes from a workshop that completely changed the tone of the story and gave depth to several minor characters I’d underwritten in the original draft of it. I also want to combine it with a completely separate story I started about five years ago, as each story has similar main male characters and some overlapping elements. Also, new title, as the original title is no good. (I told Mike that I disagree about this…)
  • Robert: I’m working on my second novel, and have written 39,000 words so far. My goal is to finish it in 90,000 words total by December. I’ll be on vacation for a big chunk of this group’s eight weeks, so I don’t expect to get too much done. If I could manage 5,000 words in that time I’d be happy.
  • Samantha: My week-eight objective is to almost rewrite the entire [short story] and turn it into a proper story and not just one I’m writing for my friend. I need to flesh it out in some spots and completely rewrite others. This will probably take me the full eight weeks because I suck at staying on track. (that’s why we’re here, Samantha–you’re in good company!)
  • Steve: I will work on the following: 1) Paper on Mendelssohn and Resilience Theory; 2) Exam on Hasidism; 3) Exam on Midrash; 4) Review of A Natural History of Natural Theology.

First Step Goals:

  • Anne: The goal for my first week is to try and write something for either of my novel in stories, get at least thirteen pages done by the end of this week.
  • Anuar: For this first week I would like to have finished at least the prologue and two chapters of my book.
  • Bev: I’ll complete the letter started during spring break and research agents with goal of creating a list of at least twelve possible places to submit manuscript.
  • Bonnie: My first week objective by necessity be humble as I will be in Ireland next week (yay!). So, my simple first week objective is allow my return visit to be a prompt for remembering all the awesome interactions and outcomes from my experiences at Carlow College.
    (safe travels, Bonnie!)
  • Laura: This first week I’ll write the first online writing group blog post and to spend at least three hours (six – seven pomodoros) over the first week working on “Sunshine Delay”.
  • Lisa: By the end of the first week, I’d like to have five pages written–trying to stay realistic. 🙂
    (you and me, both, Lisa!)
  • Mary: My week one objective is to come up with a subject for my next post and then complete a draft by the end of the week.
  • MatthewFINISH THAT FIRST SHORT STORY JEEZ. It’s been almost finished since the end of the semester.
  • Mike: My goal for the first week is to re-read the draft versions of both the older and newer stories, as well as read all the workshop notes (which included exercises like writing a letter from one character to another).
  • Robert: I’ll be here, before we leave for vacation, so if I can get 2,000 words done, I would be happy with that.
  • Samantha: My week-one objective is to complete the story I’ve been working on. There’s only one big scene left, and most of it is written in bits and pieces on paper on my desk.
  • Steve: A bit of everything

Didn’t I tell you they looked fantastic? I can’t wait to get started on this!

Next week, in addition to our second week goals, we’ll have a guest post from one of our participants, as well as some new project management tips. Until then, good writing, everyone!

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7 thoughts on “Week One: Online Writing Group

  1. Pingback: Online Writer’s Group Week Two Updates Coming Soon! | lakeprojects

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