It seems that when the Jews were finally freed from slavery and left Egypt, they had neither the time to let their bread rise nor to write blog posts. It's been a week without blogging or hametz and frankly I've quite missed both. I had the pleasure of spending Passover with my family in Florida, but it was a busy trip and I prioritized my dissertation in the sporadic hours I found myself free of familial responsibilities.
As I have steadily worked on my first chapter, I continue to pilot my writing checklist. I've had the most success with step one, eliminating distractions, and surprisingly also with step four, documenting my progress. It's been helpful to summarize and synthesize the day's work, because the next day I have a great reminder of where to begin.
Step two has been the most difficult. I've struggled to articulate "reasonable and meaningful" goals each day. In fact, I've mostly skipped this step and thus had to forgo step five, reward. I experimented with time goals (ex: write for 3 hours) and with completion goals (ex: finish a particular section). The former was often too ambitious and not commensurate with the daily variations in my stamina; the latter was tricky to adhere to because I tend to restructure sections as I write. Although I was inconsistent about setting a timer, which was step three on the checklist, I found that with the timer I was more likely to continue writing past the point when I felt like quitting.
I've thus created a second draft of the checklist that matches writing tasks to my attention span. Instead of selecting a completion goal or setting an arbitrary number of hours I want to work, I will instead divide my available work time into a number of Pomodoro cycles ("pomodori") and assign a general task to each one. For example, I could choose to do three pomodori of 25 minutes each separated by 5 minute breaks. In the first I could commit to re-reading and editing the previous days' writing, in the second I could outline the next paragraph, and in the third I could read the secondary literature on that topic.
I will report back next week on whether these revisions inspire more productive writing sessions or, conversely, have the unintended consequence of promoting productive procrastination.