Friday, November 30, 2012


Yes, pithy acronyms are often trite, yet they can be instructive as well, and are easy to remember. Lets examine a couple associated with the word  FEAR, as they pertain to writing.

Future Events Appearing Real
Forget Everything and Run

Both of these "interpretations"of FEAR inhibit writing. When people operate under the Future Events Appearing Real interpretation, they worry that their work will be rejected, that it will be ridiculed, that they will not have success  This obviously is a major barrier; it is very hard to engage in actions what we view as futile. When we focus on these pessimistic views of the future, we sadly shift toward the second interpretation: Forget (or an other more colorful, F Bomb sort of word :)) Everything And Run.

When the future appears bleak, we will often turn away from the events that we believe cause them. So, if writing will lead to rejection and pain, then why bother? So, you stop writing, push it out of your mind, and move on to other things. Of course, being the intellectual that you are, you will develop sophisticated rationalizations for why this course of action is best. And then, you suffer.

Conversely, FEAR can mean Face Everything And Reach. Staying in the moment, staying in the process, and accepting that there will be future triumphs AND setbacks is essential. One must keep a present day mindset- today is the only day we can write. It is the only day we can do anything.

So, pardon if this post was an exercise in triteness; perhaps it can be a bit trite yet also stimulate some thinking and self reflection.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"I Hate Writing"

I have heard these words many times: "I hate to write." It is usually said in a way that social scientists would understand as "essentialist." In other words,  it is so deep that it is probably in one's bones, nestled deep within some biological structures. Or, it is sociologically determined, I hate writing and I always will hate writing since that is the totality of my learning and experience- it cannot change.

But do you really hate to write so fundamentally, so essentially or are there things that you can do to increase your potential enjoyment? (or at least decrease the misery?) Is it writing you really hate, or is it something about your internal expedience that is triggered during the process of writing that can be found in other aspects of your life?

For example, the hate of writing sometimes comes from shame or a sense of not being good enough. Is this about writing, or is it about things you learned that influence other areas of your life as well?

You don't really hate writing- you hate things about writing, and what it triggers in you.

Yes, something has to change, but perhaps it is not as simple as putting down your pen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What holds you accountable?

What methods do you use to hold you accountable?  Do you have a set plan in place to keep you from falling off the writing wagon? If not, you may wish to explore some of the methods that have been discussed in this blog or elsewhere.

They key is to make sure that you have a system in place that does not allow you to rationalize not writing, and makes you accountable to others.

It needs to be something that kicks in quickly, within a day or two after you have fallen off the wagon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If you had to, you could....

I am not a nice person. Well, sometimes I am a nice person, but I can be downright evil at times. This morning (a few minutes ago), I was speaking with an extremely talented scholar I am working with- she was feeling stuck. With only one page of an article to go, she was letting perfectionism creep into her writing. She begin to wordsmith every sentence (prior do writing the parts she needed to finish), and was driving herself crazy.

So, what did I do?

I told her that if she did not write that one page, I would send 20 dollars of mine to a hate group that both of us find truly discussting.

And I will do it.

And you know what?

I bet I won't have to.

Sometimes, avoiding really icky consequences such as this can be enough to help us get out of our own way and finish something. Think of it- if you had to write one page a day for the next month in order for a loved one of yours to not be harmed, would you do it? Of course you would.  You would stay focused, motivated, and would doggedly work to complete the task no matter what it took.

Accountability is a key to sustained motivation.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Five minute bursts

Ok, try this exercise. Write the title of an article that you are working on, or have been thinking of working on, on the top of a blank word processing document. Set a timer for five minutes, look at the title again, and write. Write without stopping, without thinking.

After the five minutes are over- look for one piece of data, a quote,  a citation, or an idea. Take five minutes to read it and look it over.

Now, set your timer again, and write for anther five minutes.

How much writing were you able to do? Amazing what can happen in a short period of time, no?

Try this every day for a week, and see what you are capable of with very little effort.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Much to be thankful for...

Reflecting on the day, I have much to be thankful for. First, my wife Jill has now been out of her wheelchair and walking for a year now- there could be no bigger gift.

Over the past year, I have begun to formally provide coaching on writing and publishing. I am so thankful to have had you in my life, those of you with whom I have had the pleasure of working. I have learned far more from all of you than you have from me.

Thanks to my own mentors who have taught me so much over the years and those who allowed me to work with before I started becoming intentional about all of this- you have made so much possible for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Research agenda

Do you have a good research agenda statement, one that you can say (or send) that quickly tells the world about the work you do? It is important that you are able to clearly articulate your research agenda. If you do not, try to write a hundred word and a five hundred word version. If you can, see if you can even write a fifty word version- hard indeed!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Four Domains

I won't even apologize for not posting on the blog for some time (I guess I just did). Lets just have at the issue at hand.

I have been thinking of the areas in which we can consciously improve as authors of academic articles, and thought I would share my short conceptualization. There are four main domains, or key areas, which academics need in order to publish often.

1) Solid grammatical writing skills
2) Knowledge and ability to implement methods of writing productivity
3) Knowledge about journal articles and the processes of publication
4) An ability to manage and transcend the psychosocial "stuff" that gets in your way

That's about it. In which areas do you need to improve?