Study Leave Week 6

Another breakthrough: new book roadmap

Celebrating small successes at key points during an extended research project proves to be so important. With so many elements to juggle (literature review, primary source selection, theoretical standpoint, methodological developments, analysis, writing up, and editing), it can be all too easy to focus on the current incompleteness of the project than to recognise successful completion of a smaller integral target.

This week’s mini-milestone was the completion of a really detailed roadmap for my new Baudelaire In Song book. Nothing has radically changed since the early stages of project planning; my initial instincts about the shape of the book still stand. But the precise details of how I get there are now clear and transparent. Much of the first two chapters are in some kind of draft form, ready now for me to rework, following the neat roadmap. Some of the underlying research for the case study chapters is sitting in a set of carefully filed notes in my Dropbox folder. There is plenty more primary research to do, but then I’m only in the early stages of getting this book together. (Typically my books have taken 3 years from first idea to final shape; I’m about a year into that cycle).

Being able to say “Today I finished this [chapter plan / chapter draft / tricky transition section / etc]” is so important. I try to train and advise my PhD students to recognise this (“park this for now, it’s in a really good state”), but I don’t always remember to do it myself. Lesson learnt. And a mini-celebration with a big tick off my Study Leave Planner to-do list.

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