Thursday, September 27, 2012

An exercise to stimulate ideas about articles you may wish to write

Here is an exercise to stimulate your creative thinking about idea generation.

In a search engine (Why don't I just say Google?), type in the word "Journal" and then a key word or two that relate to one of your methodological or substantive areas of interest.

Then, look for three title of articles that sound interesting.

After, change the titles to fit your main areas of research and scholarship. After you have done that, ask yourself what article you would like written that is close to this title.

Change the title to match an article you wish was written.

That is an an article you may wish to write!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part I: Must I Listen to "Them"?

So, you are getting feedback from your department members on how, where, and what you should publish. 

Should you listen to"them"?

This is a tough question, and one that I think I will explore in several posts.

The first thing I want to say is that I have seen many, many faculty become obsessed with such guidance. They seek to do the right thing, follow the wisdom of the department colleagues, and drive themselves crazy in the process. Why drive themselves crazy?

First, the feedback on where, when and how to publish is often conflicting. Faculty one, the chair of T and P, says one thing. Your department chair says something else. Your mentor something else.  Follow one set of feedback, and piss someone off! I have seen many new (and not so new) faculty totally hamstrung by these conflicting messages, so much so that they wind up writing or publishing nothing!

Second,  all of their feedback may be preventing you from becoming the scholar YOU wish to be. I am convinced that your best shot and success, in the fullest sense of the word, will come from you actualizing who you wish to be, not what others want for you. 

Yes, I know that this may be a controversial post, but perhaps it starts some dialogue and discussion.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Great Book

I just read Robert Boice's "Professor as Writers: A self-hep guide to productive writing." I have to admit, I am a bit embarrassed that I did not find it during past literature reviews for my own work. It is a 1990 book, and is a wonderful, systematic approach to writing productivity that is based-upon the author's (and other scholars) research. Readable, and outstanding in all ways. A bit dated in terms of technology, but an important book.

I have to admit it, I think in many ways it is better than my book, Practical Tips. Something to which to aspire! I think they actually complement it other well.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Do you read enough? I mean, not those things that you have to read for your classes, but those things that make you say wow?

Not reading enough can be a impediment to productivity. Over time, not reading enough can lead us to feel that our work is dull, inspired, and disconnected from various discourses.

Remember, you can also read too much, and use reading as an excuse for not writing.

Balance. Balance.Balance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Google Docs: Now Google Drive

For those of you who use Google Docs, Google's collaborative work space, but who may not have used it in some time, it has changed. Google Drive has now replaced Google Docs- all your files have (or should have!!) been transferred automatically. While they are fairly similar, there are some organizational differences, so make sure to become familiar with it before you actually need to use it. The collaborative work tools appear to be the same, but I have not fully explored it yet. The biggest differences are in how files are arranged and organized. For a creature of habit like myself, this is going to take me a few days of adjustment.

For those of you who have not used such tools, take a look at my previously posts about Google Docs- they have changed the way I collaborate with others. I encourage your to explore how to use Google Drive with your collaborators.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Exercise in Randomness

 Here is an exercise. Take your two most unrelated articles (in your mind) or papers, and try to think of an article that bridges the two. Is the bridge theory, method, "space," feel, perspective?

Try this a few times and see if you come up with something new. The life of a scholar is about finding new ways to view things that are often explored a great deal.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thinking in another language

It is amazing to me how when I speak Spanish, my whole worldview shifts. I am in Mexico collecting data for a project, and speaking in Spanish every day gives me writing a different "flavor." I am not sure how to describe it other than that.

When we move outside of our own linguistic comfort zone, or perhaps many comfort zones, we are afforded new ways of thinking- this stimulates creativity.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer's Almost Over- Moving to 3 X a Week, and...

Well, with summer almost over (the quarter system, we are not normal :)), I will be moving toward writing from nearly day here to 3 days a week on this blog.

As sad as I am to see my unstructured time end, there is aways the excitement of new possibilities with the start of the school year.

Within the next couple of days, I will be writing to you about a new book I am working on. While the title is in the works, the book will be on tips for writing and publishing for non-English speaking scholars who wish to publish in English scholarly journals.  My coauthor is an ESL teacher and award wining journalist- I think we will be a good team.

I will be, over time, asking for some feedback and ideas on what to include.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Much Time Do You Waste?

I am working with a truly talented scholar who has been working on finding consistency in her writing. Recently, we agreed that she should figure out how much time she spends on her cell phone, specifically during writing sessions.

And how much time did she waste in one day?

47 minutes.

How much time to you waste when you are supposed to be writing?

Text messages? Email? Cell phones? Internet?

What is more important to you, thriving as a scholar, or being "connected 24/7?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Start of the Semester (or Quarter)

One of the most "dangerous" times of the year is the start of the academic term. There is so much to think about, classes, service, committees, students, articles coming back from review, requests to review articles, emails from old colleagues, ect, ect. I get anxious just thinking about it!

Often, one of the first things that "goes" is our writing. As I have said before- "pay" yourself first.  Many of the things that we think we "have to do" are perhaps not as important as nurturing our creative selves, and exploring ideas through writing. I try to remind myself that writing makes me a better teacher, and it does.

Yes, have a plan for the term, but most importantly, write each day no matter what! When you look back, if you are writing, even if it feels scattered and unfocused, you will find feel a lot better about yourself for having done so. Having a lost term just feels icky.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Edit backwards

Here is a simple tip. When you do your last edit, that edit where you look for small errors that are hard to find, read your paper backward. That is, read each sentence normally, but starting at the end of your paper. This seems to tricks the brain into paying attention to each sentence, not the overall meaning of your work.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Coming off two days off

A day off from writing, or two days off if you take weekends off, are a time for renewal. I have taken the last two days off, which is very rare for me. Today, I feel a sense of needing to write, but really do not know what I want to write about.

What do I do with my indecision? What do I do with this sense that I have nothing to say today, and that perhaps I should take another day off?

What do I do? I write. I thank my brain for its opinion (yes, I say this out loud), and get down to an article. I open one of my files with a very rough start to an article on the mission drift, international social work, and evidence based practice. It is a bit amorphous. I am not sure what I want to say.

Still, I quiet my brain, read the two pages I have so far, and write. I remind myself that writing is not what I do when I know what to so, but the method of learning what I want to say. It is a method of inquiry.

A page and a half later, I am still not clear where this is going, but am intrigued to find out!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Time to Write Now

Periodically, I encourage you to stop reading this blog and just write. Today, I have an exercise for you to do. Open the front page of the newspaper (or do so virtually), and can down the titles of the  main headlines. Ask yourself, how can my discipline inform these problems and issues? Spend a few minutes freewriting about this. After, create a few a title of an article you could write. Of course, you did not have to write this article; it is good however to start your day writing and thinking outside of the box. Now, go to one of your articles and see if you don't approach it more easily having been "warmed up."

Of course, save your ideas for future use, or see if you do want to write something based upon today's work.