Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year's Resolutions, 2017

2014 was the first year I ever made a New Year's resolution. It was thus the first year I ever broke a New Year's resolution, but the reason for breaking it is one that more than amply compensated for what I would've gotten by keeping it, so I don't mind.

2015 I was way too busy with a new job (coincidently, my reason for breaking the 2014 resolution) to even consider any resolutions.

2016 I resolved the same thing I did in 2014, and this year, I kept the resolution. In fact, despite it being a year-long thing, I'd already met the winning conditions by September.

2017, I'm going to resolve the same thing. Since academics look at me in shock and horror when I tell them this resolution, I thought I'd write about it. It's a pretty simple resolution, actually:

Submit one item per month, or 12 over the course of the year.

In 2014, I made it to 8 items by June, but then in early July I interviewed for my current job in Durham, and the rest of the year was spent moving, teaching, etc. In 2016, I hit 12 items by September. The secret is a combination of the productivity techniques I find useful and a flexible definition of "item". An "item" can be: a journal paper, a full-length conference paper, a significant journal paper revision, a book chapter, an edited volume, an edited journal issue, a book review, a grant proposal, a piece of fiction, a substantial job application. I don't generally treat abstracts sent to conferences as "items" (even if they are long/extended abstracts) or minor revisions. And an item has to be something that is being sent off to someone and can result in either a publication or money. In 2016, my 12 items were: four book reviews (January, February, March, August), two full-length conference papers (March), a book chapter (April), an edited journal issue (June), three journal articles (July, August, September), and a short story (August). Of these, three of the book reviews have been published and the fourth is forthcoming; one of the conference papers was accepted and has been published; the book chapter and the journal issue will be coming out early next year; the short story will be published in spring, and one journal article has received an R&R and has already been resubmitted (still waiting to hear on one journal article, the other has now been returned twice and will be resubmitted early in the New Year. If I revise it substantially -- and with a new venue I'd have the word count to -- then it might get counted as a new "Item"). It's because I'd hit my 12 by September that I felt free to spend the rest of the year writing a novel.

So why this resolution? I work better with arbitrary deadlines; it motivates me to actually finish things up and send them out. I also found this advice to set rejection goals (the author aims for 100 per year) to really resonate. I'm not sure that aiming for rejections really works in academia, but certainly the idea that the way to publish a lot is to submit a lot is true. Sure, I had two rejections last year (one conference paper, one journal paper rejected twice); and two would be a lot if I'd only submitted two things. But two out of twelve is a lot less of a sting: And the thing about rejections is they aren't final. You take the comments, you revise, and you try again.

I'm looking forward to 2017. I've got all sorts of plans for my 12 (or more!) items. And this year if I "win" by September, I'm not planning to write another novel...

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I also aim for 12 items, but I only 'won' in 2014.
    I agree that (even arbitrary) deadlines make me work harder.
    Happy New Year!