All posts by Kathryn Birchfield

New Semester. Last Semester. Time to Organize

Feeling excited and absolutely panicked.

As my MFA applications get sent out (due Feb 1) I am going to be diving headfirst into my thesis and be able to make that my main focus (outside of classes etc).

I have a lot of words already in my thesis but I really want to beef it up before I start to revise and cut it down. So the next month will be focused on writing and from there I will move into editing which will require writing as well as I realize plot holes and things that just don’t make sense.

I created a spreadsheet to map out my plan for the semester that focuses solely on Thesis classes and mostly on my thesis.

Is it feasible?…I hope so (I really think so). I am also going to find ways to incorporate more accountability, especially in this month of writing, to keep my butt in the chair.

Feel free to leave comments on the spreadsheet for things that you think might help, things that you think might take longer, etc. Any feedback is helpful and encouraged!

Here is the spreadsheet:

The Crunch Continues

This week I am focusing on polishing my pages, making sure that they are cohesive, and fleshing out my Lit Review.

I hope to have the pages polished and finished by this time next week so I can really focus on my Lit Review. I have one more source I want to finish reviewing that I think will be added so that is what I plan to do for the next week and half.

Thinking ahead, I will be working on college applications over the break and that will be my main focus. I do plan to plot and continue building out my thesis as well we compiling more sources for my research.

Crunch Time

As the semester starts to wrap up I am kicking it into high gear! I have one last article to work through for the semester and then I will be editing and writing the rest of the time. I have over 50 pages but they aren’t cohesive. I plan to work on these and write a few more scenes to end with 15-30 cohesive pages.

I think that working from the middle or the main plot points is what will be helpful. I will be looking through my outline and choosing to two points and trying to write everything that connects them. Might do this twice depending on the length so I will either have two sets of 15 pages (or so) that are cohesive or one long 30 page cohesive project.

I will also start flushing out my lit review. I have notes on each of my sources and why they are important, etc. Now I just need to put it in narrative form and flush it out a little more.

It was a nice week off, but now it is officially crunch time!

Goals versus Accomplishments

So, I didn’t meet my goal which was to continue working through this book.

However, I have been writing a lot on the project and getting feedback on scenes, so while I haven’t “met my goal,” I have been accomplishing a lot.

I am in a writing mood today and have been this week so I am looking forward to getting more words down!

I do want to work my through this book because I know it will be extremely helpful, but I am also okay with that being a slower process than I anticipated.


Had a productive week in terms of research and feedback. In terms of writing, not so much. Slowly making progress but it is definitely slow and I am putting a plan in place to kick it into high gear.

That being said, I did not meet me goal for the week. I was hoping to work through a chapter of a book/writing tool that I mentioned during my presentation last week. I have been working my way through it but haven’t completed it yet.

Going forward I want (need) to make more headway writing, but after a meeting I had yesterday I feel very confident and what I need to do and what/where within the novel I need to focus on.

Look forward to giving feedback tonight and connecting with everyone.

Falling Behind

Editing has been extremely stress inducing for me. I’ve been doing more research into how to plot and trying to decide if something needs to be cut or moved. Making my work cohesive is really tough for me.

I understand plotting and novel structure from a reader and editor perspective, but for some reason when trying to use what I know for my own work I start to spiral. “Does this make sense? Should this scene follow this one? Should the chapter end/begin here?” etc.

I am falling behind on what needs to be done. I am trying to keep up with this project and just constantly feel like I am choosing what class(es) work I will not complete each week just to make my schedule work.

My Lit Review is something I am not worried about at all. I have read about 6-7 pieces and 4, maybe 5, of them will be in my Lit Review. As for note taking, I have annotated them and written a paragraph or so about my thoughts around them so when I need to come back to place them in the review document I have something to build on.

My Week

Honestly, the week has flown by and I feel like we were in class yesterday talking about our two week goals.

I had a busy week last week and am still in catch up mode so not much as happened with my thesis. Finding a scene to read has been difficult and I have been spending a lot of time researching how to plot. I have many scenes but trying to line them up, understand what exactly is a scene, what is missing, etc. has been extremely difficult and overwhelming.

I haven’t made the progress that I had hoped, but am excited to continue to break ground on this aspect of my project. The fact this is so challenging let’s me know I will learn a lot about my project and my process as I am working through it.

My overall feeling for this week in everything work, personal, and school is “under prepared and overwhelmed.” Because of this I have set aside time to just sit down and lay out what I need to do and turn to resources that are around to support me.

Here is a meme I found that accurately portrays how I am feeling.

Did I Meet My 2 Week Goal?

Short answer: YES!!!!

Long answer:

Also, yes, obviously. I hit my 20 pages last night! I am calculating pages by 300 words equaling a page via YA novels. I am almost at 21 pages, but writing will no longer be the focus going forward for the next few weeks.

I have been focusing on writing even when I knew I was re-writing a scene that I had somewhere else or information that I couldn’t remember I had or not. Most of what I wrote was inner monologue and dialogue, I write in script form first and then flush out things later. I just needed words on a page. Now that that is done, I have the harder, more daunting task for a non linear writer like myself: editing, plotting.

Editing is something I love and one of my favorite things to do…for other people. I love taking someone’s project and helping them craft it to become exactly what they want it to be. It’s why I enjoy my academic editing job now and helping Communication student’s with their scripts.

That being said, having to go through and edit my own work. It’s tough. I am not nor have I ever been someone who plots their work from start to finish. I just write and let the scene, characters, take me wherever. Which can be nice and necessary, but extremely unhelpful when putting a big project together.

So I reached my goal and I am stoked about that, but now the bigger task comes and I am a little nervous and feeling a lot like I will be fighting procrastination moving forward on this.

To help keep me accountable, I plan to use novel writing tools and books and dedicate 30 min a day to sitting down and plotting. That will be the goal of the week and then hopefully after that I will have a better idea of editing and moving the scenes I wrote around as needed.

Update on 2 Week Goal

My two week goal (Sept. 14-28) is to have anywhere between 8-20 pages of my thesis complete. I am calculating this by word count (300 words = 1 page).

As of today, I have written 3 pages total from Sept. 14-20 and I am learning to incorporate a daily writing habit and planning for my next two week goal which will be focused on completing other writing for college applications while focusing on the revision of the pages I have written between Sept. 14-28 and compiling them with the scenes I have previously written for this project (and revising these as well). I think in total I have 8 pages for this project (but won’t know until I look back at all the scenes and work I have), but I am not sure if they are cohesive pages yet.

When focusing on just word count and pages, I feel good. If I think too much about revision, compilation, how much of the story is written, and the role these first pages will play in applications I start to get a little anxiety.

I am trying to focus on writing and creating a daily writing habit and just cranking out work even if it is subpar.

I can’t create my best work if I don’t create any work.