Word cluster

A blog about getting into a writing habit

My name is Francisca Concha-Ramírez and I am a PhD at Leiden Observatory. I do computational astrophysics and I also write a lot, but I want to write better.
This is my personal blog to document my writing up and downs. For my work/CV website, click here.

To learn why I started this blog, and see my writing plan and rules, check out this post.



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5 August 2018

Catching up on past weeks, starting week 5

[ writing  habits  planning  phd-life  holidays  work-life-balance  outreach  hobonichi-techo  ]

by Francisca Concha-Ramírez

Ironically, I’m very behind on updating this blog, but I’m not behind on the rest of my writing!

On my previous post, which reviewed my goals for weeks 2 (July 16-22) and 3 (July 23-29) of my personal writing challenge, I had set up a goal of four writing blocks each week. Week 2 was a work week so all of my writing would be for work; week 3 was holidays so I assigned three blocks for my science website and one “free” block which could be a personal thing or outreach.

The four work writing blocks of week 2 were easily accomplished, since I have been traveling a lot lately and had many work stuff to catch up with. However, my proudest moment so far is the fact that I did not write a single word during my holiday week! Not. One. Word. Not even opened my laptop!

Now, it took a while for me to feel proud about this accomplishment. I think of myself as being good with work-life balance: I never work on evenings or weekends unless I have a very important, life-or-death (academically speaking!) reason to do so. However, since my holidays were right at the start of my writing challenge, I considered those days to be a critical time for building the habit, so I did not want to stop writing. But, as a way to still keep it a “light” writing week, I assigned only outreach writing. Which brings me to another thing I realized on that week:

Outreach work is work. It doesn’t matter how much I love it and enjoy it. It doesn’t count as “free time” just because I do it on my free time from grad school. It is still work, and requires a lot of thought and preparation and concentration to do it.

I have been doing outreach for many years. At the beginning it was as part of the team at the most wonderful touristic observatory in Santiago. It was a job, I got paid, and it was scheduled onto my week as actual work. That made it easy to have the connection of “holidays” == “I’m not going to the observatory”. I would send a schedule to my boss with my holidays so they would know when to call someone else. However, with my science blog, it’s been different. It’s something that I’m doing on my own, and I take time out of my free time to work on it, and of course I don’t get paid to do it. More than the payment though, I believe it’s the not having a strict schedule for it which makes it feel more like part of my leisure time, when really it is not.

So, I have made a few decisions regarding the work for my science outreach website:

So, considering this and the rules I set up on my first post, my plan for the coming week is:

Week 5 (6-10 August): four 2-hour work blocks. One two-hour outreach block.

Yes, I’m also moving from scheduling 4 weekly blocks, to 5. I think it’s going well enough to do so.

Something for me to keep in mind is that I’m also starting an intensive Dutch course this week! And it will last until the end of August. I have lessons in the mornings, and according to the course description I’m supposed to do three hours of personal work every day. I will take this first week to see how that goes, and how to structure my writing time around it.

One other thing that’s bugging me a little bit is how to keep track of my writing blocks every day. I am currently using the vertical monthly pages of my Hobonichi planner to do so, but lately I’ve also been using those pages as an “index” when I take notes:


My planner has daily pages, which I sometimes don’t fill up during one day and then use them for note taking. I keep an index of said notes on the monthly pages for quick reference, but now it seems to be interfering with my writing tracking. I also used these pages to track my period, but now I got rid of that or I would have even less space to write the index. Still trying to figure out what to do about my tracking system.

One last thing: I’m working on setting up comments/a “follow/suscribe” option for this blog! Hopefully they’ll be up soon.

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