Thursday, May 30, 2013

Desite it all....

Slick, my 15 year old dog, died last night. I had to put him to sleep; his heart disease progressed, and he was left a shell of his former self, and was starting to suffer.

Today, I am left empty. I feel soulless; those of you who love companion animals deeply will understand. And so today, I will write, despite it all. I will write with a heavy heart, with a deep and profound loneliness that rattles me to the core. I will write, because in the end, it truly does not matter if I do or don't so I just might as well. This is how I have managed through the years, through deaths, disease, heartache. I write because, I write in spite of, I write anyhow.

Slick, I write these words for you today. Your life gave me life, your warmth and grouchy love gave me the comfort to write books I never dreamed would I be able to write, articles I did not know I had in me. You, dear sweat and grouchy boy, mattered to me.

And this dear readers, is all I have to offer to you today. If you write today, and if I ever have inspired you to write, please dedicate a few of your words to the memory of my dear boy, Slick.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Back, and will be starting posting again three times a week ASAP. Thanks for your patience, and hope you have been writing a ton!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sorry for the break

The last few days and the next couple might not be very productive here, as I have been traveling around Russia to conduct writing and publishing workshops.  More soon!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The steps that people want to skip

Step is  not the correct word, but domain. When I do workshops on writing academic articles, many of my participants want to skip over an exploration of their psychosocial barriers and and method of writing production and go right to the information about journal articles. Try as I might, some people just don't wish to see how they get in their own way, and wish to focus on the "technology," if you will, of the journal article.

What I have seen over the year  is that not looking at how you get in your own way, through perfectionism, procrastination, fear, anxiety, and other such issues I have explored here, is the downfall of many academics. When they get stuck and don't write, they either blame external factors that seem to have very little to do with their lack of productivity, or they sink into total self deprecation and blame.

Neither positions is helpful. What is needed is a honest, non-judgmental self evaluation of the issues at hand.

Sadly, some don't seem to want to do the self exploration needed to really thrive as scholars. How much I push the issue depend on the degree I am willing to engage in conflict.

In my coaching practice, that is one thing. With participants of workshops, it is a very different story.

Hopefully, some of you have made some of the changes you need through having read this blog, and having worked on some of the issues that you have explored.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekend Challenge Number 12

It looks like we missed a challenge last week during my travels. Sorry about that.

This week, lets do a a very simple and quick idea generation exercise. I like doing this one every once in a while to help me not worry about my ability to generate new ideas.

So, for the challenge, write the title of three articles you would love to see written.

Don't over think, just write.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Perhaps one of the most powerful emotional states that inhibits the work of scholars is hopelessness. Hopelessness can come in various intensities and can attack scholars for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, even the smallest defeat will trigger a powerful wave of hopelessness.

Consider the following "sources"

A senior colleague says something critical about your the type of work you do
An article comes back from a journal rejected
A grant you applied for was rejected
A colleague who you started the same time as is going up for tenure early

These are but a few. But are they really the source, or are they merely triggers? This is the type of self exploration that you must do. Without bringing these issues to light, you my be thrown off when hopelessness attacks.

Think about this post, and perhaps write a bit in your academic journal (or start one if you did not have one yet).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Resource sharing

I would like to ask my readers to post, under the comment section, their favorite writing resources and tools.  Please post other blogs, websites, books, articles, or writing tools that you have found helpful in your journey as a writer/scholar.

I always love to learn new tools, tricks and sources of inspiration!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Neglected Third Factor: An Article by Robert Boice

I frequently advise my students that a good literature review means looking into recent publications and, God forbid, writing from "the good ol' days" (in many of their eyes, more than five years old!!).

So, listening to my own advice, I reread an article I have not looked at in some time: Boyce, R. (1985). The neglected third factor in writing: Productivity. College Composition and Communication, 36(4), 272-480.

This is one of the seminal, foundational articles on writing and faculty life. Of course, you may not be as excited about the literature on faculty writing as I am, and may just wish for a distillation of a few lessons that I learned.

Here are a few, but certainly not all.

First, this article was based on a small, experimental design that tested the relationship between writing productivity and creativity. It used three groups: scheduled faculty writing with contingency (potential punishment), unscheduled writing, and a control group.

So, a few lessons.

1) Scheduling writing sessions beats unscheduled writing for production and creativity.
2) Creativity depends on writing and production; it is not based on inspiration alone.Good ideas come from your butt being in the chair, slugging it out, day after day, year after year.
3) Regular writing beats binge writing.

These are all things I have written about in depth, but it is important to go back and look at the source of your ideas, even if you are not conscious of where that source was from. Boice has been one of the (perhaps the) most important scholars in the area of faculty writing and production- I suggest you read some of his work. Good research builds off of the work of others; be generous in your acknowledging the work of others. It is a good writing practice.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fear as an opportunity, as a teacher

When faced with difficult feelings, we often feel the need to "make them go away." It is natural to want to feel better. This desire may be especially true with writing, which can often feel difficult enough. I have  previously written about the various emotional states and issues that can get in the way of productivity and thriving.  Indeed, many of us must attend to our difficult emotions and learn to push them aside in order to get words down on the page. Blocking out what we feel so we can work is often a good thing to do.

There are times, however, where it is important to reflect upon what we are experiencing, and to try to learn from it.

Fear, for example, can be an important teacher. It can help us discover things about ourselves, and push us to grow in new ways. One of my favorite lines from a song, "Hey Leonardo", is: "The things we are afraid of, are going to show us what we're made of in the end."

The next time you find yourself feeling afraid, ask yourself what this fear can teach you about yourself, about your life, and who you wish to become. 

While this post may not seem as if it is about writing or publishing, I think some of you can come up with examples that will show that indeed it is.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Feedback, please!

It has been a while since I have received any emails about the types of posts that you like the most. Please, provide me with some feedback, either as comments, or private emails, about what you find most helpful (and not helpful), about this blog. I want to make sure that the posts I write are meaningful to you, my readers!