Well, we’ve made it to Week 11. Next week, I’ll be done with my article and sending it out to be judged. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Week 10 was all about micro-level edits. Belcher’s diagnostic test has you color-coding sentence-level problems in your paper, which makes for a pretty, multi-colored thing at the end of the day. Of course, the prettier it is, the more edits you have to make. My biggest problem was probably wordiness – using many (often little) words when I could have used one or two. Though it took some time to run the test, and to go through the paper to improve the individual sentences, it was a nice break from the big thinking and macro editing of the previous weeks.

In preparation for the final week, Week 11 is all about putting the finishing touches on the big parts of your paper – introduction, literature review, argument, evidence, conclusion. Belcher opens the chapter for this week with a section titled “The Perils of Perfection.” In pointing out that 1) there’s no such thing as perfection, really 2) imperfections are a good thing because it opens up critical dialogue with your reviewers 3) all stalling — often in the name of perfection — at this point is related to fear, Belcher encourages the reader to let go of the imperfections so that you can actually finish the thing. The rest of this very short chapter (literally 4 pages, including the time-tracking calendar) leads you through the process of finalizing the main parts of you paper by reviewing the aims and activities of the weeks dedicated to those respective parts.

  • Day 1: Read through page 268, start documenting your time, and review your paper for final general edits. Also, return to Week 3, review the instructions on improving your paper’s argument, and make corrections as necessary.
  • Day 2: Finalize the related literature review and bibliography. Return to Week 5.
  • Day 3: Finalize the introduction. Return to Week 8, focusing on the section about introductions.
  • Day 4: Finalize the evidence and structure. Return to Week 6 and Week 7, with the aim of improvement rather than overhaul. You may need to set aside several hours for this day’s task.
  • Day 5: Finalize the conclusion and, if you haven’t already, make sure you’ve chosen a journal. Return again to Week 8, this time focusing on that chapter’s section on conclusions.

*   *   *

When you’re approaching the end of a task, do you find yourself stalling? If so, what do you do to get yourself back on track? If not, what’s your strategy to keep yourself motivated?

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 12 (Send!)