The month of November has but 11 hours left, and with it, I bid farewell to InaDWriMo, the month in which I (and many other brave souls) pledged to make significant progress in our academic writing. I set before myself three goals: complete and submit a grant application; complete major revisions to a paper; and do the majority of data analysis for a poster.
I got the grant submitted.
I worked really really hard on the revisions, but I still need to revise the conclusions, abstract, and one figure, and send the revised paper off to the co-authors before resubmitting it.
The poster data analysis is started, but barely. I am increasingly sick with the thought of trying to get it done in the next <2 weeks until the conference. If I were a PhD student or a post-doc, with no teaching and service responsibilities, it would definitely be do-able. If I were a childless professor, it might still be do-able, but not pretty. As is, I'm going to be defining a new minimum of output for the poster, and it definitely won't be pretty.
If I had only two of the three tasks on my plate in November, I think I could have managed them without giving myself a nervous breakdown in the process, but three was just too many. Yet, they were all hard, external deadlines to which I'd made commitments months ago. So I'm not sure what I could have done differently starting November 1 in order to make my month a success.
The big lesson I have learned though: Despite what my PhD advisor managed to pull off repeatedly, it is not a good idea to submit an abstract with very little data collected. He managed to pull off well-received talks because (1) he had grad students and research assistants to do the frantic work in the 2-3 weeks before the conference; (2) he has enough stature and tenure in the research community that he can give mostly “conceptual” talks and still be OK; and (3) he’s one of the most gifted public speakers I know. I’ve got none of those going for me, yet I still submitted an abstract on a project that was mostly a figment of my imagination. Lesson learned, I won’t be doing that again for a while.