Archive for March, 2013

A Baby Step!

March 28, 2013

As I said in my last post, my first order of business is to flesh out the proposal, in particular, expanding each of the chapter descriptions to about a page (approximately 250-300 words). I created a schedule that looks something like this:

  • Write description of chapter 1, 3/28/13
  • Write description of chapter 2, 4/2/13
  • Write description of chapter 3, 4/4/3

And so on.

Being obsessively ordered and rule-bound in the early stages of any project, I nearly stumbled and fell trying to write a description of Chapter 1: Introduction. Faced with the blinking cursor, here’s what I could come up with:

quote-marksChapter 1: Introduction

This chapter will introduce the book.




And that was after “thinking” about it (procrastinating) all day.

With the clock ticking, though, I finally pulled out the first chapter of my dissertation, reverse-engineered its outline (yes, it’s been that long since I wrote it), and mashed all of that down into an acceptable 251 words. The next thing I had to do was convince myself that 251 words is perfectly acceptable for a description of an introductory chapter in a book proposal that hopefully only 1 or 2 people will read. Sadly my type-A personality wants to go for 300 even when it’s unnecessary and meaningless.

A baby step. Busy weekend coming up, but I feel like I can make the next baby step.


The Planning Stage

March 26, 2013

I spent today trying to map out a plan for my writing. Then I distracted myself with searches for project planning software. I am ridiculously attracted to the idea of visualizing my progress (or lack of it) in Gantt charts, as if those horizontal bars represent the work itself. And I know from past experience, that all the pretty charts in the world never reflect reality when it comes to real projects. Sigh.


I have a long range plan for the Everly Brothers book, which is to finish a solid draft by the end of the year. I will devote one month to each chapter. I think this either is wildly optimistic or I’m stretching it out too far, especially considering it’s a repackaging and extension of my dissertation. So I will revisit this plan in a month or two.

The first order of business, though, is to flesh out my book proposal. I have a short introduction and paragraph for each chapter. I need to expand the chapter descriptions to one page. If I can complete a chapter description on each of my days off during the work week (I teach 2.5 days a week), then I can be done with this task by April 18. Again, I may be overestimating.

I am also developing a list of other tasks related to this such as determining if there are any additional research materials I should review. I searched through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives online catalog. The material they have only amounts to 1.83 linear feet and only covers the period from 1973-1988, which is not the period I’m focusing on. I’ll have to think about whether I want to incur the expense of traveling or paying to have the materials photocopied. The Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-CH has a few folders that look interesting–not enough to warrant a trip, but the next time I go down to visit the family, I’ll spend a day there.

This train is leaving the station, so hold on!

Time for this train to roll again!

March 19, 2013

I’ve been quiet here for a while. Busy mothering, teaching, directing, and generally trying to keep my head above water. But now it’s time to get this train rolling again. I want to work on two different books (and a third one is swimming around in my grey matter), so I need to get serious about writing again. And two weeks ago, I learned some interesting things that have inspired me to restart this blog as part of my overall writing effort.

I attended the annual conference of the Society for American Music this year (presented a paper, but that’s a different post). Several of us tweeted during the conference, which was both interesting and frustrating (yet another blog post). I eventually met up with one of the tweetsters, academicronin, and had a very interesting talk with her. She blogs about her book progress, reporting on challenges, triumphs, the number of words completed and other details. Brilliant! Set a goal, put it out there in the blogosphere and somehow you now feel accountable for it.

Then I attended a session on music history pedagogy. One of the panelists discussed student writing and brought to our attention a study on binge writing vs. the slow-and-steady approach. The research of Robert Boice* suggests that the latter–regular moderate amounts of writing–produces better results and better rewards (tenure, article acceptances, etc.).

These two insights felt like the proverbial slap to the forehead for me. When I was working on my dissertation, I wrote every week day and occasionally on the weekends. Sometimes it was thousands of words and sometimes it was only one or two (regular moderate amounts). And for a number of reasons, I set a clear end date (goal).

I’ll be back soon with a plan.

* Boice, Bob. “Which Is More Productive, Writing in Binge Patterns of Creative Illness or in Moderation?” Written Communication 16 (July, 1999): 354-67.