Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Implementing a Writing Pipeline System

If you've been keeping up with me lately, you've noticed that I haven't posted here for a VERY long time. I made a decision to set my art business and blog aside to focus on my mental health and graduate research (in that order). Apologies for not announcing it here at the time, it was hard for me to write anything at the time and I needed to put every ounce of energy I could muster into academic writing.

I'm still focused on my mental health and graduate research but writing is a bit easier now so I thought I'd share something here that I'm going to try: A Writing Pipeline!

Try a Writing Pipeline System to track Academic Work. Read more at www.VaryNiche.com.One of my friends shared this post on writing productivity by Associate Professor Erin Marie Furtak, in which Prof. Furtak shares her writing pipeline and its 11 stages. I am always excited to implement a new system to organize some aspect of my life so, of course, I took some time out to procrastinate from my research in order to plan better ways to organize my research. 

I have been using Workflowy for several months to keep my brain organized so have implemented Prof. Furtak's pipeline using Workflowy for tracking. I will eventually write something up about the various apps I've been using to aid in getting my dissertation done. For now I'll just tell you that I like Workflowy's online (computer) version for data entry and reorganizing. The synced phone app is great for checking things off or adding one more thing (except its glitchy at present when I try to use my phone to add something to a shared list). I'm still using the free version. 

Back to the Writing Pipeline. I decided I'm going to try to use it at my current stage rather than waiting until I'm finished my dissertation. I think it will be useful for:
  1. Keeping Track of Tangents: every second meeting with my supervisors has involved some tangent squashing along with gentle guidance back to my main topic. It will be nice to have a place to keep my list of tangents and to plug them in at whichever stage we caught them; most of them will fit under Newly Conceived Ideas but when I get carried away before they are identified as tangents, they might fit under Draft Proposals.
  2. Tracking my Writing Progress: While students in my department can elect to actually write several individual papers which tie together to form their dissertation, my project is better suited to the more traditional style of a single manuscript with chapters. That said, each chapter will have its own sub-conclusion which will act as a premise in my dissertation's main argument. My chapters are all at different Research stages and will be at different stages throughout the dissertation writing process so having a way to track and check their progress at-a-glance will be invaluable.
  3. Getting used to the Review Process: As with most dissertations...I don't expect that when it is complete, its chapters will be ready for publication. There is a long process of getting feedback and revising which comes before publication (or even submission). Having those categories sitting there will help me keep this fact in mind. I may even use the Manuscript Under Review category to track which chapters my supervisors have in hand and the In Revision category to track my post-supervisor-feedback revision process.
  4. Goal Setting: I've been an entrepreneur of one stripe or another for as long as I can remember and in small business, a pipeline takes strangers and makes them acquaintances, acquaintances and makes them followers, followers and makes them customers, customers and makes them clients, etc. This sort of incremental goal setting is second nature to me so thinking of my academic work in this way should help me with goal setting...something I've always struggled with in my academic work. 
I'm sure there are more benefits I haven't thought of yet but I'll discover them as I go. For now, here is my version of Prof. Furtak's Pipeline:

Writing Pipeline
  • Newly Conceived Ideas
    Relatively undeveloped ideas for papers, presentations, or grants.
  • Draft Proposals
    Ideas developed for grants, writing projects, or other research.
  • Proposals Under Review
    Ideas submitted for grants, conferences, books, special journal issues, etc.
  • Research - Material Gathering
    Background research, reading, important notes & quotes, etc.
  • Research Analysis - Figuring out the Problem
    Setting up the project: Why is the research question interesting? What is the problem we need to solve or resolve or dissolve?
  • Research Analysis - Potential (Re/Dis)Solutions
    Clarifying the project: What has been tried? What am I trying that is new?
  • Research Analysis - Arguments Formed
    Completing the outline: What is my main argument and how do its components fit together? Are there components which need to be written up as independent papers?
  • Manuscripts in Draft Form
    Outlined, partially written, waiting for components back in analysis stages, almost done, etc.
  • Almost ready for Submission
    Ready for a conference or external review. Get feedback!
  • Manuscripts Under Review
    Nothing to do but wait. Work on something else.
  • In Revision
    Revise-and-Resubmits, Rejects (Revise-and-Resubmit-Elsewhere); Note deadlines where applicable.
  • Revisions Under Review
    Wait Again. Work on Something Else.
  • In Press or Recently Published
    Add it to the CV when In Press and then update the CV when Published before taking it off the list completely.

This is right out of my Workflowy account and so includes the notes I added to each list item as reminders of what goes in each category. The beauty of Workflowy is that it will allow me to flesh out the writing ideas on a list point which can be moved from one category to another via drag and drop. 

You should be able to copy the text above and paste it into your own Workflowy account to customize or use as you see fit. You might have to cut the note text from each list item and "Add Note" to paste it back in as a Note on the list item. If you'd prefer to procrastinate further with this, I recommend reading Prof. Furtak's post for more ideas to customize the list as well as great bits of writing advice


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