Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Little Frustrations

Not unlike any other job, being a college professor has its little frustrations. I just found out that the book I ordered for the doctoral research class I am teaching may or may not have been shipped, and now it is on back order. I have been hoping to receive the new edition to update my syllabus, and to do some preparation for my class.  So, my syllabus is late to my students (not late, but I said I would get it to them by now, a good deal before the class started), and now I need to prepare from an electronic edition (I actually like "real" books!!!), or my old edition (two editions ago).

Ah, sabbatical is really and truly over.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Forgiveness and Moving Forward

Its the last week of the year. In last Friday's post, I asked you to engage in a bit of self reflection; shall we continue it here?

While usually challenges are reserved for Friday, and I did say that they were done for the year, I actually have one more for you.

One of the ways we get stuck is to carry around a great deal of shame about past "failures." Intense shame and demoralization, paradoxically, do not help us reflect upon what we need to improve, but makes it harder for us to uncritically and dispassionately assess and change our weaknesses. When we feel a great deal of shame, we tend to defend against experiencing this emotion by denying the triggers that set in motion our painful feelings.

So, for this bonus challenge, and truly the last one of the year, please spend a few minutes completing the following prompt.

I can let go of and forgive myself for.............

Friday, December 26, 2014

Last Friday Challenge of the Year

On Wednesday, I asserted that you are not likely to keep your New Year's resolutions regarding your writing if you do not work to eliminate barriers that you still have. In a ten to twenty minute free write (in one or two sessions) consider the following questions.

1) What barriers still get in the way of my writing?
2) How can I eliminate these barriers?
3) Who can help me?

Share these here, or with a friend or trusted colleague.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Year Writing Resolutions

I know some of you are beginning to contemplate New Year resolutions pertaining to writing. I have heard a few.

     This is the year I am going to write every day!

     I promise myself that I will start that book proposal

     I am going to join a writer's group

     I am going to connect with my mentor

     I am going to get to that revise and resubmit right after the holidays

     I am going to write this year so I actually have a shot at getting tenure (and/or promotion)

And on and on and on.

New Year resolutions are made with the best of intentions. And yes, each of us can change and can actualize positive intentions in our lives. Yet, without an intentional focus on identifying and eliminating the barriers that have stopped you from achieving these goals in the past, it is unlikely that you will fulfill your resolutions.

As I have explored before, growth and change are predicated on maximizing strengths and eliminating barriers.

With this in mind, get ready for Friday's challenge, the last of the year!



Monday, December 22, 2014

This is the end

I was just asked, how do I feet about my sabbatical quarter coming to an end. The end. The end. The iconic Doors song, The End, pretty much typifies my mood.

Ok, perhaps a bit over-the-top dramatic. Yet, as short as it has been, this has been an amazing few months for me. I have developed clarity about some of the things I want to let go of, and some of the attachments I wish to strengthen. I have created some space that will allow me to refocus on aspects of my scholarship that I have neglected, and feel some peace around moving on from others areas. I am committed to moving beyond my scholarly dilettantism and focus more on one primary scholarly interest: Writing as method (and method of inquiry).

In subsequent posts I will explore what I mean by "writing as a method of inquiry"- I think it will feel relevant to my readers. Its an area I have been working "in" for many years, even when I did not conceptualize it as such.

In truth, sixteen years into this full-time academic life, perhaps half way to the finish line (if I work until that mythical age of 65 that so few really retire at these days) I feel I am just discovering myself. 

Its a good thing.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Challenge: Find a Brief Note/Short Section of a Journal

Identifying journals prior to writing articles is essential for assigning relative "weight" to sections of the architecture of our articles. This is especially true if we write a short article or brief note. Do not scoff at writing shorter articles;  if they are peer reviewed, they can become an important part of your scholarly profile.

If you have not searched journals in your field (or related disciplines) for brief notes sections, (or not for a while) spend some time doing so.

You can start with a web search : topic/field (fill in blank), "journal", brief note, research note, ect.

Also, search the websites for journals in your field and really evaluate the "instructions for authors". You will often find many different types of sections to journals with different word lengths. 

See if this triggers any ideas for a short article you can write over the holidays. Challenge yourself. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Task, and Only a Task

Often, we make writing into more than it needs to be. When trying to complete an article or project, we should view it as a series of tasks, nothing more, nothing less.

Take the process of revising and resubmitting an article; too often scholars conflate feedback into all important, grand intellectual debates. That rarely helps; taking each point reviewers make and seeing each as a discrete task to complete, in a set amount of time, can be liberating.

Doing so can lead us to the insight that the difficulty with making revisions often lies within us. Our "stuff"- anxieties, fears, perfectionism, ect, makes the process far more difficult than it needs to be.

Break projects into discrete tasks. Set time limits, time limits that are far shorter than you normally would take. Write. Practice. Repeat. See what happens.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Can You Every Really Know the Number?

"My chair told me I need x number of publications prior to tenure."

"A senior faculty said I need to publish X number of articles to be promoted. "

"My dean said x."

"The provost x."

"Nowhere is it written down; what do I do?"

Sound familiar?

The truth is, there really is never going to be an exact number to count on.  People move on. New players have new expectations. Universities change their focus. While it is important to have a sense of the expectations from various players in your university, it can be an energy suck to spend too much time trying to figure this out. Best to focus on developing the skills, practices, and habits you need in order to shatter that mythical bar. Who wants to live in constant anxiety and fear.

If Rich's be in the process and develop yourselves mumbo jumbo is not working for you, if you really need a number to go with, try this. Figure out the mean of the various numbers you have been told. Take this number, and increase it by fifty percent. Make that your goal. Subtract this from the number of articles you currently have. Divide that number by how many years you have left before going up for tenure.

That is the minimum number of articles you should publish each year. Given that each article may not get published, especially while your figuring all this out, add fifty percent more to this number, at a minimum.

Now, be in the process and develop your skills :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Chanukah!

May the light of the world shine down on your family, your friends, and your writing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Triggers

In the addictions literature, which I think can be instructive as it pertains to forming even positive habits, there is a great deal of discussion of triggers. Triggers are biopsychosocial factors that trigger some aspect of the addictive process or cycle. Triggers do not "cause" the user to engage in the substance or behavior, but highly increase their likelihood.

At times, triggers can be components or small pieces of an addict's ritual. Being triggered can quickly lead to the engagement in addictive rituals that subsequently lead to acting out or using.

I am reminded of the notion of triggers while drinking coffee in a cafe. I did not come to write, but being in a cafe and drinking coffee triggers the desire to write. I am not compelled to write, but the desire is stronger than it would have been if I was instead having a bottle of water at the gym. The behavioral cues, biological inputs, and contexts are highly associated with writing.

What does this mean for you? If you are struggling with the motivation to write, not only can you engage consciously in rituals that you have created for yourself, but you can passively engage in "pro-writing" behavior and in pro-writing contexts. Try to trigger yourself without forcing it. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Challenge: Hand Write 500

For this challenge, I want you to hand write (you know, no computer, cell phone, tablet, ect ect) 500 words across two days. It can be on an existing article, generative writing about a topic you are exploring, a book idea, or a new article.

Fresh method, fresh perspective. Go!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Practical Tips...., Time for the Next Revision!

For those of you who have read my book, Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles, its time for me to consider changes for the 3rd edition. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I am going to broaden the focus a great deal. Currently, it is slightly geared toward (but not exclusively for) the helping professions. This revision will make it more appealing to those in all disciplines (although, I have been told the current version is more than relevant to those in various fields, even the "hard sciences.")

So, if you have ideas, email them to me. Think about what you would find helpful.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Considering Rituals, Yet Again

Moving toward Hanukkah, I think about rituals. Rituals that sustain us, motivate us, nurture us, connect us to each other. Rituals are a rich and powerful part of human existence. Yet, aside from the more existential meanings of rituals, writing rituals can not only be simple, but also can serve a simple function: to help us be consistent.

My second post in this blog, from well over two years ago, was about rituals.  Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I like the simplicity of one passage from that entry: When we engage in the same behavior, day after day, year after year, engaging in a ritual triggers within us a "push" toward certain behaviors.  

I have written a good deal about rituals over the past few years, but the one strikes me as the most true. 

Editing Wikipedia entries?

Reader, faithful responder to my posts here, scholar, and author of a great blog herself, Ana Canhoto, writes a compelling article about editing Wikipedia entries. I must admit, I have very much of a reactive, uncritically derived, professorial-party line response to discussions of Wikipedia. Yet, her post really has got me thinking. I share it with you here. I hope it is as thought providing for all of you as it has been for me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Challenge: Holiday/Winter Break Needs

People respond differently heading into their winter breaks.  Some scholars view their time away from teaching as a time to take a break from writing, while others double up their efforts to produce.

While I am an advocate of slow, steady, and consistent, this does not mean that we have to keep on the exact same schedule all the time. We have the desire/need for rest, and we often also have the desire for times of intense productivity.

Consider what you really need for your holiday/winter break. Consider the risks of taking a break; will you easily start things back up?  Do period away from writing energize or sidetrack you? Also, consider the risks of a upping the intensity of your writing; will it burn you out?

Should you stay the course and keep your daily writing habits steady? If you have made changes in the past during breaks, how have they worked out for you?

Spend about a half an hour considering your plan for your winter/holiday break. Share it with someone and get some feedback/reality testing. use this information to carefully engage in some planning. The key is to be intentional, and then reflect back upon your choices and learn from them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cheap Ad Hominems

I am sure many of you know what an ad hominem falacy is. For those who don't know, an ad hominem argument or fallacy is when an argument is refuted, ignored, or discounted through an attack on the person who makes said argument.  For example, an idea would be described as invalid as it was not written by "a researcher" or was put forth by "a doctoral student." Of course, credibility and credentials have some merit, but we know that good logic necessitates critiquing an augment or work on its own merit.

While perhaps not relevant to academic writing (or is it?), I am struck by the prevalence of two extremely common ad hominems: fan boy (fanboy), and hater. The first is used to discount extreme passion or interest in an idea or topic, while the other is used to discount criticism as being attributed not to a personality defect in the person challenge something.

Watch out for subtle uses of this in your work, and do not be swayed when others are using it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Belts and Walls

My grandfathers. A carpenter and a beltmaker. I never really watched them work, but I think about the craft of making a belt or putting up a wall.

You need to do it well.
You need to get it done.
You don't second guess yourself.
You seek excellence, but accept imperfections.
You don't worry about being judged.
You don't worry about your impact.
You just focus on getting the job done and done well.

This is how I try to apporach writing. And in the spirt of the craftsperson, I will leave it at that, allowing others to draw their own conclusions.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Post Thanksgiving Challenge

I hope my US readers are not too hung over from the sedating effects of massive amounts of eating! Turkey, you might know, while being a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, might not actually be what makes us sleepy after our Thanksgiving feasts, but actually the massive amounts of desert!! It looks like the results may be a bit inconclusive (although, I am sure that one of my readers will correct me via email- you usually do when I err!)

But I degrees. Hopefully now you have recovered, and have a bit of time to read this blog and get to your writing.

For today's challenge, I want you to spend ten minutes engaging in a free-write. For ten minutes, I want you to write from the following stem.

"Thank you writing, for_____________________"

I bet you are surprised by what you write. Let us know!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Point of View in Academic Articles

A really solid post on point of view by my friend (although I have not seen her in  while :(  ) and colleague Julie Kinn, on. Here it is!

While she has stopped her blogging for now, check out many of her previous posts for inspiration and information.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Academic Diary, by Les Back

Sociology professor Les Back keeps a really "neat" (how is that for an Americanism to introduce a British scholar) "Academic Diary." It is not so much a blog, as it is the actual ruminations of a scholar on various topics related to life in the academy. I appreciate the self-reflective quality of his explorations of academic writing, supervising doctoral students, lecturing, teaching, and many other topics. A worthy read when in need for some inspiration and considered ruminations of many of the pressing issues of higher education. It has an almost memoir-like quality that appeals to my personal interest in creative non-fiction. Read it!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Challenge: Find Three New Journals

Discovering new journals opens up new ideas and perspectives. Today, find three journals that you have never before explored. Read their homepages, their aim/scope sections and their guidelines for authors. Scan the titles of a couple of issues; read a few abstracts. Make notes of thoughts and ideas are stimulated by this exploration. Perhaps a new article idea? Thoughts about resurrecting a half dead paper? Someone to connect with?

I like exploring new journals a few times a year; I always get something valuable from the process.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Academic Writing, Part Two

On Monday I posted a link to an article from the New Yorker that explored some of the conventions of academic writing, and calls into questions some of our practices. Yet, it also does an excellent job of contextualizing the nature of academic writing and scholarship. It has a wee bit of sympathy for our plight.

The author's article was written in response to a perhaps less friendly critique of today's professors, Professors, We Need You, published in the New York Times.

While the title seems to attempt to reach across what the author conceptualizes as a fairly stark divide between the public and the professoriate (a divide of our own own making, he asserts), it is actually a bit less than friendly. The author harshly judges the nature of our research, and faults us for not being sufficiently engaged with the public. As a social worker professor, I have many colleagues who are doing work within community agencies, and who are deeply involved in public life. I have many colleagues who are working each and every day, for example,  against the criminalization of immigration and its most powerful and deleterious consequences. Perhaps they are not always "advertising" their work- maybe it is time we start to be more open about such efforts. I don't really know, as sometimes keeping out of the media's gaze allows us to be more effective.

Yet, the author raises some important points about the nature of our writing; it clearly can be obtuse, unclear, and can use highly specific jargon. True, our publish/or perish system demands writing for scholarly journals many of which are increasingly obsessed with the deification of quantitative, reductionsistic research. Yes, we need strong quantitative, longitude studies to access the impact of various practices, but there are many, many ways of knowing which are becoming increasingly marginalized. The methods of science are essential, as are those of the humanities.

Yet, is this not a two way street?  Has the American public done enough to value our higher educational system, voting for tax cut after tax cut?

The issues are complex. Read this article, along with Monday's link if you missed it, and please do let us know your thoughts.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing Like an Academic?

I found this thought provoking article in the New Yorker, Why is Academic Writing So Academic. Written by a former academic (or at least a former professor, the author clearly is still using his scholarly training), the article explores many of the paradoxes and issues with writing "like an academic."

As I have written about previously, sometimes academics confuse clarity with banality, and by extension, opacity with erudition.

Clear writing for complex ideas is one of my guiding principles. It is one of the reasons I have been studying creative non-fiction during my sabbatical quarter.

Read the article to which I have linked. In a free-write, explore the implications for your writing practices and for your career, if you dare!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Too Much Coffee....

But who cares! Not long ago I wrote about the need to be able to write in different "spaces" and mood, and being hopped up on caffeine certainly qualifies. So, I write a blog post. Get down some thoughts about the conclusion to an article, scribble some random ideas about another article.

It does not have to be brilliant, it just has to be. Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours slowly crafting the introduction to the article I was just scribbling about. That was slow work, methodical, considered. Now, its Jack Kerouac "On The Road" madness writing.

Yet, sooner or later, maybe tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I will be in the right space for more considered, analytical work. I trust my various moods, and it works. If I don't trust myself, it does not work as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

7 Day Writing Challenge

For those of you writing every day, this challenge will not be of value. However, for those of you who are writing a bit less than every day, take the 7 day challenge. I want you to write for 7 days. Write no matter what. Declare to someone that are your taking this challenges; accountability is key.  Let me know if you did it. Let me know if you did not.

Even if you don't feel like doing it, do it. Do it no matter what.

The first person who lets me know that they took the challenge, and has never consciously written for 7 days straight, gets a complimentary coaching session. Honor system, lets see whose first!  Let me know!

Monday, November 10, 2014

If Your Not Writing: The Writing Challenges

Think about it; even if you do nothing else but my writing challenges, you will at least be writing once a week. If you do one of the old challenges each week, that would make you write twice a week. So, all you would have to do write once "on your own" and you would be well on your way to a consistent writing program:). 

You have to start somewhere.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Writing in Different "States" of Awareness


Yes, it would be nice if we were always fresh, mentally alert, and feeling intellectually spry and creative. It would also be nice if I were young, had good skin, and could eat whatever I wish without consequence.

Yet, this is not the way life works, right? We are often tired, annoyed, anxious, burned out, ect. So, to wait for the perfect "state" would mean to wait in a perpetual state of non-productivity. So we have to train ourselves to write in different states, in order to become accustomed to it.

I also find that writing in different states and different moods can lead to different insights and perspectives. Also, you may find that you are able to engage in different aspects of the writing process more successfully in some states verses others.

So, try to make yourself writing when you are a bit annoyed, angry, hungry or tired. Even if it is for only five minutes, sneaking in a few minutes here and there not only leads to increased productivity, but can lead to an increased sense of self-efficacy as well.

This coming week, try to consciously written in states, spaces or mood in which you normally would not write.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sabbatical's Are Not That Great

And as we said back in the day- PSYCH!!!

I can only lament that I am off only until January: this is wonderful. Time to read and think whenever I wish. No emergency "issues." No meetings.  No pettiness. No silly decisions that are so crucial in the moment, but that really impact nothing!

I know this sounds like I don't love my job, which I do. I just am loving this even more!

When was the last time I shaved? Shower? Deodorant? HA!

The other day, I wrote until 5am (1425 words), watched Mad Men reruns on Net flicks, and slept half the day! I ate only popcorn for 24 hours (air-popped, my heart says thank you!)

Next time, I am going to have to do this for the year!

Monday, November 3, 2014

You Challenge Each Other!

Ok readers. Its on you today. Challenge each other in the comment section. Lets see what you've got!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Challenge

Here is the challenge.

Write 100 words.

Have a piece of candy.

Write 100 words.

Have a piece of candy.

See if you can repeat the pattern enough to give your dentist and cardiologists fits!

Happy Halloween. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writers Write

The other day, I wrote a post describing writers writing at a coffeehouse. It occurred to me, that not all professor sorts think of themselves as writers. Teachers? Check. Researchers? Bingo. Scholars? Well, yes, but that sounds so grandiose!!

But writers?

Thinking of yourself as a writer, or perhaps better said, identifying as a writer, can be an important step in your evolution toward thriving. Behavior follows identity, after all. 

And what to writers do?

Of course, we know the answer.

Writers write.

If you write, think of yourself as a writer. If you want to write, think of yourself as a writer. If you want to write and are not writing, think of yourself as a writer. Writers write. You will write.

Write.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Write Where Writers Writer

My wife and I were having coffee at a cool independent coffeehouse in Seattle the other day (Yes, we have great indy places in the birthplace of corporate coffee, thank you very much). While I was enjoying my black drip coffee, and she her concoction with more adjectives than I care to consider, I noticed all the people writing.

Not just surfing the web, but truly writing. You can tell the difference. I strolled around, and surreptitiously peeked at what people were doing. Yes, writing was happening, and it was good! One professorial type (what is that, really?) seemed to be working on an article (citations galore, a dead giveaway), another seemed to be working on a novel or screen play. Five people all total, at different tables, writing, deeply, intensely, consistently.

How aware were they of each other? I do not know, but the "writing vibe" was palpable. Maybe they were not fully aware of each other, moment to moment, but I cannot help but to think that each were greatly influenced by the generation of words in their presence.

Something to consider, no?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Challenge: Reread an Old Paper

Today, I want you to reread an old article or paper; make it one you have not read for at least a year or two. I want you to try to critique it from the perspective of a journal article reviewer. Try to see what you might do better? Don't beat yourself up for discovering imperfections, but try to discover the implications for future work. What does what you learned tell you about your writing/work style? How can you use these insights to improve current work?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Academic edu: Is Anonymity a Good Thing?

One of the cool things about academic.edu is seeing who follows your work. Its is a great way to see what others are doing, and to find new people to reach out to in your areas of interest. This aspect of the system is public, open and transparent.

I wish the analytics section was the same way. It would be really great to discover who is looking at my work on the web, not only where they are from. I know that there are many reasons why, even if it could be done, that the system should remain "nameless." Yet, it would be of great value to me to see, for example, who is looking at my work on writing and publishing, as a means of seeing what types of resources they may need.

I know, be careful what you ask for; the consequences of too much openness on the web, (i.e. identity theft) are all too well-know.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Journal: Critical and Radical Social Work

From time to time, I like to report on new journals. Here is one I am really thrilled to see: Critical and Radical Social Work: An International Journal. As my profession becomes increasingly conservative due to the medicalization of social work, the deification of evidence based practice, and the spread of neoliberal globalization, it is heartening to see academic spaces for alternative perspectives.

For those of you not in social work, its a nice exercise to consider how your ideas can apply to different disciplines. For example, you might think an article such as: The implications of ____________ to critical social work. Fill in the blank with cool ideas from your discipline, and consider how to make it fit. This is just one idea, and it may indeed not fit, but such creative, cross-disciplinary formulations can be exciting!

Friday, October 17, 2014

100 Word Essay, Revisited

It has been over two years since I have asked readers to write a 100 word essay. It is time to try it again. This is similar to an exercise I asked you to do not that long ago, where I suggest writing your article in the form of a short poem. Writing our work in alternative forms, especially short ones, helps us to achieve some clarity, and can help us get to the essence of our work.

Go to the link, follow the guidance, and write!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Academic Job Hunting Resources from Yale University

Yale University's Graduate School of Arts and Science's Graduate Student Services Office produces some nice materials. They have a whole page of good resources on academic job hunting. Materials include how to write a cv, teaching statements, and a good list of academic interview questions.  If you are on the job market, or soon will be, I suggest perusing their offerings.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Making a Belt, Putting up Dry Wall, Writing an Article

My grandfathers: a carpenter and a belt maker. While I was not raised by them, I am grateful to somehow have learned from them a working class attitude about writing. My job is to write, and to write and finish projects, be they articles or books.

I cannot imagine my grandfathers worrying if their walls or belts would change the face of their disciplines. I am sure they did not worry about the internalized voices of their mentors, and if they did, they certainly were not paralyzed by them. Belt markers and carpenters are craftsmen (craftspeople); their job is to do their job well, and go onto the next job.

An article is a belt; an article is a wall. It is nothing more, and nothing less. It should be done well, competently, and with a sense of pride.

And then, it should be done, and we move on to the next one.

And as walls go up, houses go up. Articles are written, and careers are built. Wall plus wall plus wall equals house. Article plus article plus article equals career.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, October 10, 2014

New Places Challenge

This is a repeat challenge, but come on, I can't come up with new ones all the time! Besides, most of our challenges really are not one shot lessons only be done once, but exercises that are designed to help you add new tools to your metaphorical tool box. Kind of like Felix the Cats's Magic Bag of Tricks!!

Ah, memories :). But I digress: to the challenge!!

For this week's challenge, go someplace you have never written before. A cafe, a dinner, a city a few miles away, your car by the ocean,  a small rural library, wherever. 

Spend at least one hour writing, if you can. 

When you are done, reflect and write about the experience, using the following prompts.

What was this experience like for you? How did this change of location make a difference (if it did)? What can you take from this about your future writing rituals and work?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Love of Teaching: Working at It

Some people love to teach; they love everything about it. For them, it is a calling, it is the very (and only) reason why they pursued a PhD.

Others of us, and I would argue we are the majority, love aspects of teaching, but not everything about it. For instance, I love the connections with students. I love to challenge them, to engage them in experiential learning or dialogues that leads to major "ah ha" moments.

I like lecturing, yet while it may come as a surprise to those who see me as extremely extroverted, I am a bit shy, and don't like to be the center of attention. I don't like grading; at all (but who does?). I don't like having to be "on" at specific times of the day. I tire of some student's desire to have me "make them happy" and engage in "costumer service." My job is to teach, to challenge, to facilitate transformational experiences, not to make someone feel happy about their grade or satisfied. I am an educator, not a call center representative (no offense to call center reps, its just a different role).

So, I love aspects of teaching, and overall, I really like teaching, Yet, I have to really work at liking and loving teaching to really have it work for me. That means I have to really think about my teaching, prepare lessons that are not only stimulating to students, but stimulating to me. It means I have to honor my own pedagogical stances and biases, and not seek to please everyone. In short, I have to engage in teaching the same way that I try to engage in my scholarship and writing, patiently slowly, day after day, year after year. When I don't, its just a grind.

So, I have to work at it. Not just the day to day teaching, but the love of teaching, the importance of teaching, the joy of teaching. I know how to step into a classroom and pull a class session out of my "you know where" (but of course, I would not ever do this :)), but this is a disservice not only to my students, but to me.  I am not suggesting that every lesson has to be new, but for me, I need to engage with teaching in a meaningful way in order to really enjoy it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Maximizing Strengths

It is easy to focus on weaknesses. This is especially true of academics; we are highly educated, highly motivated people who demand a lot from others (and ourselves).

Yet, to achieve our goals, it is just as important to focus on and maximize our strengthens as it is to work on our barriers and challenges.

Of course, work to fix the barriers that inhibit your success, but please, make sure to recognize, and continue to grow, your strengths. The two go hand in hand.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Losing Writing to Job Hunting, or Life!!

So how are all your job searches going? It is such a stressful time.

Either you have interviews and are freaked out about how prepared you are. or how you will come across, or how you will manage flying out to bumble butt nowwheresville while managing all your other life responsibilities!Even worse if you don't have interviews and are waiting by the metaphorical phone for someone to call.

Making progress on your research and writing during this process will be hard. Yet, will it be any harder than when you are in the first year of your tenure track position (if that is where you are headed), having to balance new classes, new colleagues, new committees, new rules, and a whole new life?!?

Each year, there are new challenges that threaten to get in the way of our writing agendas. Each year, it is easy to say it is the new job, the new relationships, the health issues, the baby, ect.

As the commercial asserts- "life come at you fast." Each day we are challenged with the problems of living; rarely is it easy. Developing good habits with your writing and research will help you feel less guilty and prevent you from that sinking feeling that the years, and your career, are passing you by.

Today, ask yourself, what is one thing I can do today to advance a writing project. One thing that might only take a half hour? If it has been a while since you have done much, try to just do a few minutes. Start.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"How to Get Published"- Video from Taylor and Francis

While nothing earth shattering or transformational, I found a solid video by Taylor and Francis titled "How to Get Published."  If you are new to scholarly publishing, this might be a nice introduction to the topic. At the very least, it can help you assess some of what you know, and what you may need to learn more about. Even for those of us who have been "in the game" for a while can benefit from going back to the beginning and considering our approach to the basics.

Of course, keep in mind that this is from a publisher's perspective; they may not be the best ones to help you deconstruct some of the mythology behind their practices.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Back in My Chair, Writing

After over a month of travel, nothing feels better than to be back home, back in my favorite chair.  Its an overstuffed, burned orange leather chair that I have moved with me from Nebraska, to Charlotte, and now to our forever home, Tacoma. It is my special place in what I hope is the last home I ever live in. It is more than a piece of furniture; it is symbol and embodiment of so much that I love. My time alone writing, my family close by, a career that I usually love, but am always bewildered by. My dog in my lap, the memories of my dogs no longer with me.

In this chair, I write and laugh, I write and think, I write and cry. 

For ten years in this chair, I have dreamed of possibilities through writing; I have lived a life through writing. I have had success and failures, projects come to fruition, and those that have wilted on the vine. I have had friends die, and have made new friends, and have moved from being a young man to being  a very middle aged man.

And through it all, a constant, this chair, my fingers moving across the keys, the mystery of the word.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Its All About the Story

In the past I have contended that even the most quantitative, traditional scholarly articles are "all about the story." Having been studying creative nonfiction (aka, narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, or even call it "Fred" if you wish) intensively during my sabbatical, my belief in the importance of story has been strengthened.

In fact, there is a wonderful video that describes a project that matched scientists and nonfiction writers to help them create more powerful works together.  Watch this inspirational and thought- provoking video by Lee Gutkind, who has been referred to as the "godfather of creative nonfiction. 

Thinking of our work in terms of stories is not, however, only for when we write for lay audiences. Thinking of our work in terms of narratives allows us to consider writing our work in ways that are evocative and moving, or at least does not induce sleep. I will explore this notion more in a subsequent post but for now, watch the video and think of how it may apply to your work. 

Who knows, perhaps you will also think about writing for other discourse communities (fancy professorial talk for "audience") as well. As long as we take care of our "T an P writing needs," writing for the public is some of the best service we can do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Old School, but Great Book

Too often, I think some (not all) new scholars discount writing resources that were written BW (Before the Web). It is true, some of the tools that we have available to us make some suggestions passe at best, and obsolete at worst.  For give us-some of us fossils even completed some of our university education on typewriters; can you imagine. Each day, having to ride my pet brontosaurus back to my dorm and write my papers "old school."

Yet, the "bones" of many books on writing written in days of yor' are still excellent. Perhaps none better than "Writing for Social Scientists" by Howard Becker. I really don't want to even dissect many of its great insights, but instead implore you to find a copy and read it.

Of course, you can skim some of the material that seems dated, but even in his discussion of using index cards for research is based on wisdom that I think we all can learn from. Sometimes using old world tools is one of the best ways to solve new world problems (says the guy who still likes to go to libraries and believes in journal books made of, dog (intentional use) forbid, of paper!!).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Challenge:The Policy Implications of_________

Using the prompt, "The Policy Implications of_________", fill in the blank with important aspects of your work. Try to write ten without thinking. Put them aside for a few hours.

When you come back to them, see if any of them resonate with you. Might you be able to write one as an article? Might it be a fun departure from what you have been doing? See if you can find a journal for it. Now, use what you have been learning, and begin!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Your Favorite Resource?

As  I recover from my jet lag, I will rely on some of you, my wonderful readers, to chime and and tell us your favorite writing resources. Discuss books, people, websites, or what/whoever? \

Please do post under comments- we need to make this a wee bit more interactive anyhow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't Write!

You heard me. After two years of proselytizing the virtues of daily writing, here is a challenge for you. The next time you have written for a week or two every day (hopefully today qualifies as a potential start date!) I want you to not write for one day. That's right, don't write!

Open your article, or print it out, and just read it. I want you to feel the desire to write, I want you to see a few places, or at least one place, where you could write, where you want to write. Feel that urge. Let the desire to to write wash over you. Feel it in your body; notice your thoughts. Then, don't write. Allow yourself to be bothered throughout the day, think about wanting to work on the your article, wanting to write.

The next day, get back to it.  Write. Again, feel the desire to write, let it pour onto the page.

What happened for you?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Piece of Bad Advice

Last week, I explored some advice from a book that caused me great pause. This week, I read another concerning suggestion from another book; given that it is so general I do not need to "out" the author, who suggested that a lack of time is the biggest barrier to writing productivity.

This is untrue for nearly all of us. It is how we use our time that inhibits our productivity. If all you really need is a half an hour a day to be fairly productive (and experience has shown me that many scholars publish a good deal of work in a half an hour a day, writing on most days),  than is a lack of time really the issue?

Text messaging. Surfing the web. Television. Emails.  Is there not a half hour that can be carved out just from these activities?

Also, at times it is not only our use of time, but our privileging certain tasks over others. Emails first? Not wise. Teaching preparations first? Sometimes, but should writing not get equal airtime during your best, most productive times of the day, especially since writing often makes us better teachers?

Believing that time is the biggest problem will stop you from looking at your own processes, your own blocks, and your own current operating procedures. You have developed a set of skills, tools and habits, some of which facilitate productivity, and others that inhibit it. Make time your problem, and you will avoid the real and honest soul searching that is needed to improve your productivity.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Challenge: With Whom do You Want to Work

Today, your challenge is to think of one person you want to work with, or want in your "scholarly life." Connect with that person. Reach out. Let them know how meaningful their work has been to you, or how much you would enjoying learning from or collaborating with them. Do it. Bring that person into your world.

And of course, if they do not feel the same way?

Next!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watch The Advice You Take

Sometimes, I read advice given to developing scholars and I just cringe. Not that everything that I say and write is gold, of course. Yet reading through some of my books on scholarly writing the other day, I came upon a few problematic passages. Here is one from Linda Becker and Pam Denicolo's "Publishing Journal Articles."
On page 11, the authors contend that "There are two distinct types of writers:those who enjoy mulling over an article for many months occasionally writing a paragraph or two and never feeling any pressure to complete it, and those who find this almost an unbearable, tedious and counter-productive approach. It is vital, at this early stage that you know which sort of writer you are."
There is a great deal in this paragraph that is problematic, but I just want to focus on one key aspect of it; I am sure you can find others (i.e. that there are only two types of writers, and both are positioned as somewhat problematic, dysfunctional sorts).
What is most concerning to me here is the essentialist nature of the advice. The authors confuse poor work habits and having not learned important lessons regarding scholarly productivity with a functional “type” of writer. Research suggests (see a good deal of Boice’s work) that frequent writers will outproduce binge writers. Boice’s research, and my experience with dozens of scholars also suggest that many of those who have only written episodically can indeed begin to develop new skills and habit that facilitate consistent writing productivity.
Essentialist thinking dooms one to “isness”- “this is the way I am, and I will always be this way.” Just because you have only written episodically in the past does not mean you cannot learn to write more consistently. Viewing yourself as a certain type of writer, one who “naturally” ruminates about articles for months before getting down to writing is not a very productive way of understanding who are you are a scholar. Frankly, such counsel and its internalization will insure the continuation of poor productivity habits.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Creative Nonfiction Short

I said I would share one of these, so......

Dial
When I tell people that it is on my bucket list to make it through life without ever sending a text message, they look at me as if I am telling them that I do not believe in wearing shoes, or that God speaks to me through messages on the back of cereal boxes.  Clearly, there is a significant and pervasive problem with some deep neurological structure, or a chemical imbalance which impedes my ability to comprehend the importance of this essential mode of post-modern communication.
Back when Southern California had only one area code, and push button  phones were still a distant technological innovation, we had the phone number 213-272-7000. I can hear my dad’s voice on the analogue telephone recorder “You have reached 272-7000. Please leave your message, and we will return your call at our earliest convenience.”
The best thing about my phone number was that it was easy for my friends to remember. The worst thing, however, was the dialing. For those too young to remember a rotary phone, imagine an odd shaped, semi-rectangular hard plastic box about the same size as a half a loaf of bread. Imagine squeezing your moldable white bread loaf on the sides, and adding a plastic disk with ten holes to the front. Each hole corresponded to a series of numbers, 1-9, and 0 for the operator. Above numbers 2-9, were three letters of the alphabet, an artifact of even longer ago, if I am to understand correctly, when people would call the operator to place calls and use letters for their desired calling destination.   
213-272-7000. Since zero was the very last number on the rigid plastic disk, I had to dial it three times to complete a call home. It felt interminable, those long turns, my finger carefully carrying the disk in a clockwise motion until it hit the metal piece that would engage the number.  Dialing was not entirely simple-the disk was not a passive force-there was this strange resistance that gained strengths as you propelled your fingers around the face of the phone. It was fairly easy to misdial. How many times did I have to hang up the phone, wait a few seconds, and begin moving my exasperated fingers again? The first part was easy, 2-7-2, and then, the stress mounted as I approached the culminating burden of the last three zeros. Oh to have had a number such as 242-1411! Life would have been so much simpler.
Yet, there were advantages to such a long dial. For example, it gave me additional time to think up an excuse for why I got into another fight on the playground; how shoving Adam Goldberg’s face into the tetherball pole was somehow not my fault. It gave me time to brace myself before I called Kelly Lori, the first girl with whom I shared awkward kisses, behind the cabin during summer camp; extra moments to sum up a courage that 11 year old boys rarely possess.
Pulling the dial in so many revolutions gave me time to think, to think slowly and organically, and to exist within the slow spaces of each turn. So too with the answering machine, and my father’s words, “we will return your call at our earliest convenience.”
I believe in space, the space between words, and the space between moments. I believe that to create things that are meaningful we need to touch the void in the universe; for that we need time and empty space. Writing, art, even our own best emotional reactions need a breath of silence on which to draw; they need that space I learned by the slow, dragging dial of the rotary phone.
A few weeks ago, lying in bed in the late morning, my wife and I surf the web. We were looking at pictures of Cartagena, Colombia. The 17th century walled city, spectacular brick fortresses, the ambling cobble tone streets-we were exploring where to go for our tenth anniversary. We have to plan carefully. She now has to use a wheelchair when we leave the house, and sometimes even inside. We are interrupted by two vibrations from the phone resting on the dresser across the bedroom. In spite of her disability, the horrible pain in her feet, she jumps up quickly and stumbles toward the dresser. She winces as pain shoots up her legs, through her thighs and into her back. Her hand trusts forward and snatches her telephone, as if she were catching the last grunion as it slipped back toward the sea.  She stares into the cosmic glow. Still standing on her annihilated feet, she pulles out her miniature keyboard and begins to type.  
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Michelle has a question about green chile,”
“Is she making it now?”
“No, next weekend.”
I smiled and mumble, “We will return your call at our earliest convenience.”
She pays no attention to me, and for all I know, did not hear me. Her fingers dance on the keyboard as she continue to moan in pain.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Value of Nothingness

I am doing a lot of nothing on my sabbatical. It has become a joke with my wife when I call. Still doing nothin'?

I think entering nothingness is perhaps my most important sabbatical  task. I have become something of a human "doing" and not a human "being." In the process of near obsessive focus on achievement, I have lost pieces of what is important to me. And, there is no going back. I can't cast my gaze back up the person I was in 2000, to take the year I started my first tenure track position, and attempt to become that person again. I am a different person, in a different developmental stage, with different needs, desires and passions.

Yet thinking about to my core values at that time, to the role that poetry and writing played in my constructing my scholarly identity, is instructive. It helps me consider the fit between these values and my current life structures. It helps me consider the ways I have evolved and perhaps, the ways I have devolved.  I have gained so much through the academic life; I have also had my share of wounds. Some of these have yet to heal; some perhaps never will.

Yet even more instructive?  Nothingness. Waking up in the morning with the only thing that has to be done is to feed myself. In that space where everything else is optional, I hope to find a bit of, perhaps not what was lost, but of something new, something to sustain me through the next phase.

It is daunting, exciting, calming.  The privileged of my sabbatical. Nothing.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Don't Write a Lot, Write the #*(* Out of that Paragraph!

Last week, we had a day when we wrote a lot! Today, we are going to focus on writing one killer paragraph.

Go to an article, book chapter, or book, and select a paragraph that is in process. Now, for today, you will focus only on that paragraph. Cut and paste it into a new document. Perfect that paragraph.

Wait a few hours.

Now, take the original version from your original document, and perfect that paragraph again.

When you are done, compare the two versions? How similar are they?

What are the lessons here?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Enjoying Sabbatical!

I have worked nearly every summer I have had in academic, so never have really had a full break. Even so, teaching summers is not that bad; there are really no committees to serve on (or few), and a lot of university life stops. But now, I am off the clock until January. And while my colleagues are not back on the clock yet (quarter system), knowing that I am not having to pay attention to ANYTHING that happens in my department, my university, or with my students is so darn liberating!

I love faculty life, but having time away from it all, my head feels so free. Waking up in the morning now, traveling, all I have to pay attention to is a few research interviews (and these have been amazing), and then doing some presentations soon, which I love to do.

But being free from the grind, the grind of family life (I love you guys) AND faculty life- I feel this sense of lightness that is so very, very rare.

And yes, I am writing :). I am writing a lot. I have been writing creative nonfiction shorts, and I am loving it!

Perhaps I should share one soon?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Community Colleges in California: Major Openings in a Major System

Many of us learn that if we do not get a tenure track position at a research university than we have failed. Yet, many PhDs, in their heart of hearts, really want to teach. I have spoken about this before; many of us began our PhDs with a strong desire to teach, and have had that love steadily shamed out of us!

Well, for those of you who have the courage to teach, and who want to teach at community colleges, don't forget the largest system of higher education in the world (so it is said)- the California Community College System.

Consisting of over 100 colleges, there are often well over a 1000 openings. Check out the data base of the California Community Colleges to see what is happening in my home state (well, birth state anyhow). 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Challenge of the Day:Write a Ton!

Take a look at your accountability databases or notes (you do use these, right??). Find out what has been your most productive writing day. Within the next few days, try to beat that word count!

Don't worry about what you write, have fun. Cultivate a sense of "push" and playfulness at the same time. Watch what happens in your head, challenge the cognitions that are interfering, but just write.

Days like this, when wall we care about is writing, nothing else, can be highly generative. For today, don't worry about quality, but quantity!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Conditionally Accepted: A Great Resource

I have been meaning to share this resource for a while. Conditionally Accepted is a blog and community space (that is what I would call it) for "scholars on the margins of the academia." I would argue that it is essential reading not only for those self-identified as existing on the margins of our little world, but for those of us fully "bought in (whatever that means), and certainly those considering to entering it.

Reading about the lived experiences of those who do not easily fit into the hierarchical structures of the academy helps all of us understand the impact that some of the more oppressive practices and mechanisms of higher education have on all of us. 

The resources are exceedingly helpful and well organized- make sure to read though that section of the blog. 

Some of the blog posts are just fantastic. I really appreciate the four part series by Jeana Jorgensen, "I Don't know if I want to be a professor anymore." It is a great, honest, and telling personal narrative.

This is a great blog space to check out. As much as I love being a professor, and see myself working at my current gig until the end of my formal work life, I have also felt fairly marginalized at times. My highly emotional, expressive, and sometimes bluntly honest and direct Jewish male sensibility has not always been fully accepted in the academy; I have had to "dumb down" key aspects of who I am to fit in, at times. At some point, I need to write about this more, in particular how I see it influencing my life when I was an administrator.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looking for a Great Editor?

Two people recently have asked me to recommend a copy editor for them. If you find yourself needing one, I highly suggest you read this post

Monday, August 25, 2014

Respecting Bad Days

Respect your bad writing days; they, not the ones where the writing is easy, are those that lead to a productive career as a writer.

Dinty W. Moore explores the importance of such days in his excellent book, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. He writes:  "Sitting in your chair, struggling through the gobbledygook that comes out of your brain, on one of those bad days, is still a productive effort, because your getting one of your inevitable bad days out of the way."

If you wait for it to be easy, wait for inspiration, wait for calm and peace and the perfect context, you will be waiting a long, long time. The next time you have a horrible day, spend some time actually being grateful for it. Cherish it, as crazy as that sounds- it is an essential part of the writing process. It is what clears the space for the days when everything flows.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Working Things Out

From whom is a blog? The author, those they know personally, those they hope read their posts, parts of themselves they wish to explore?

At times, I write to work things out, and do so here, as a means of going public, to prevent myself from hiding, to share with others common struggles that many of us share. Or at least I hope many of us share; the fear of being alone with one's pains and struggles is frightening, indeed.

I am here in Manila, early morning, drinking coffee in a cafe. Writing. The simple act of writing; I could be anywhere in the world at this moment, the joys the same, the struggles the same.

I am trying to let go. I am trying to simplify. I am trying to have confidence in accepting what truly is important to me, and not worry that the world might not find this enough. Might not find me enough. No, that I might not find me enough.

There are several interlocking areas that I have written researched and written about for many years; part of me no longer wishes to do write or research these anymore; part of me is afraid of letting go.

These formed the basis for my doctoral work, my dissertation,  my tenure and promotion, my promotion to full professor. They have formed a key part of my professional identity.

And the truth is, I have to push myself to read about them these days.

Frankly, I just want to read and write about writing. Writing has always been "it," even when I have not know what to write about.

I am becoming something else, in the last year of my forties.

Hang on.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Start of My Sabbatical!!!

With the end of my summer class  (grades in, yeah! and the start of my trip to the Philippines), this marks the start of my fall term sabbatical. I am thrilled to be taking a one term, or four month sabbatical away from the grind of faculty life. Decisions will be made without me!  Yes!!! Classes will be taught, and not by me! Students will to to someone else for guidance and feedback!!! ( I love ya, but some time away, please!)

And what do I get to do?

Read. Write. Read. Write. Sleep, Eat. Repeat.

This is going to be a good four months!

Don't worry, however, I will not be slacking off on my blog. I have been storing up some posts, so have a few in my metaphorical hip pocket that have already been scheduled for posting!

I will also share, I am sure, what it feels like to be officially away from duty. For many years, I have taught during the summer, so I really don't know what time away totally feels like. And four months, this is going to be sweet. Its not a year, but its still an awesome privilege!


Friday, August 22, 2014

200 Words Now

It has been while, so time to drop and give me 200. Stop what you are doing, and write two hundred words on an article you are working on, or do some writing for a new piece. 


Stopping like this from time to time, and randomly writing, is a great way to get more work done than we might otherwise have.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Writing, a Poem By Charles Bukowski

All too often in my blog, I explore the barriers and blocks to writing. With so much focus on trying to overcome the lack of writing, I sometimes forget how much writing has given to me, and to others. Writing, and not just poetry, prose, and journal writing, but academic writing, as been the source of so much joy and meaning to me. It has been perhaps the most important single "act" of my adult life.

So today, dear readers, I present the poem by the late Charles Bukowski, Writing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writing When Tired

There are times when I write that I am tired. My body is tired, my brain is tired;  I know that I have little in the tank. Yet, I have learned that the key to having this be valuable time lies not in what I produce, but in my consistency, and in my staying connected to my work. Sometimes when I am tired, I don't really work on an article or book project, I just write about topics or ideas in which I am interested. Sometimes, it leads to nothing. Yet other times, I am surprised by what are seeds of future articles or projects. I have learned to write, and to the best of my ability. let go of the results. Process beats outcome, when provided with great consistency.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Challenge: Being the Bad Guy(Gal)

You have a research buddy, accountability partner, friend, mentee, colleague, ect, and you see they are just not getting their writing done. Weeks pass, months pass, and still, nothing is happening.  They don't publish; they have lots of reasons why, but they are not getting it done. You struggle with how to help, lend small words of encouragement and support, offer to collaborate; take them to lunch. Sigh.

Perhaps they describe to you practices that are not working, or you hear rationalizations that are getting in their way. Perhaps their baggage is clearly impeding their progress. Yet, you say nothing. You have learned to be nice, to be kind, to mind your own business. You don't want to cause tension, be blamed, resented, or simply be the recipient of anger.

Yet, are you being a good friend (or whatever you role is)?  If your unproductive scholar does not make it past a third year review, or tenure, or can't get a job, due to their lack of writing, did you really do right by them?

It is hard being the bad guy(gal) ; every parent knows this, and frankly, anyone who has ever been a "true friend" knows this. Sometimes though, you have to do what is right, not what is easy.

I ask you to think about this today, and view it as your challenge. I am not telling you what to do, but asking you to consider the types of support you provide to others, when it is useful, and when it is not. I am asking you to think about taking a risk in order to help someone you care about.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Feed Your Head: Check Out Kyra Gaunt's Blog

Ok, day four of jet lag- somebody make this stop! So, what do I do, but read some blogs of scholars that I know. One of my favorite scholars (people really, she is too cool!) is Kyra Gaunt. Krya explores the identity of Black girls in the media and how they navigate exploring their own developing senses of agency, power, and position in society (says me, not sure she would present her work in this way, sorry Kyra if you reading this). For the past couple of hours I have been reading her blog, Black Girls/You Tube.  Its one of those blogs where you are invited into a conversation with a facile mind, a keen observer, and a caring soul. Feed your head; read it! It almost make jet lag worth it.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Good Morning From Manila

What do I do when  I am horribly jet-legged and so tired that I cannot pronounce basic English words, no less my few words of Tagalog? Of course, write in my blog! It is almost 8am in Manila, and I have already been up for hours. 

I tried to read the reviews of an article I need to revise; that was not happening! I attempting to craft the magic paragraph of an article on the the relationship between depression and writing productivity: who am I kidding!. I switched gears, realizing I do not have the focus or capacity for non-reptilian brain writing or activities, and did some free writing on some other ideas.  And now, this.

What will it lead to? Who knows; I trust, trust in writing, the process, movement forward.

Now, can I trust my capacity to edit, this tired, before I hit the "publish" button here? I shudder at the thought, but here it goes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Challenge with a Prize!

This is a challenge that I did once before, about a year and a half ago. I think it is time to try it again!

For this challenge, we are going to do a simple word count tally.  Write as many words as possible about ANYTHING! Whoever posts in the comment section the largest word count written on THEIR WEEKEND wins. We will define the weekend as Saturday at 5am your time, to Sunday at midnight, your time.

What do you win? A free hour coaching session with me (maybe not such a wonderful prize, but something free is always nice). You may keep the session for yourself, or gift it to someone else.

So, post your word count for the whole weekend by Monday night Pacific Coast time. Honor system.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Editor's Experience? Ever Consider it?

Every wonder what it is like to be the editor of a journal?   While I am not going to really explore everything that goes into the role, I just want to stress what wonderfully a fascinating, fulfilling,  and totally thankless role it is. Editors, for the most part, do their work as service, get paid nothing or nearly nothing, and receive very little appreciation from those they interact with the most- you, the authors!

Editors are YOU, faculty. Yet so many submitters of articles treat editors as bizarre and mythical "others" that lord over their lives. Now, mind you, i am not saying that all editors do a great job- in other places in this blog I have been critical of the practices of some editors. Some are great, but some, indeed, are awful.

Yet, I want you to really consider the nature of editors role, and how much "crap" they get on a (near) daily basis. From:

     Authors who blame them for their tenure problems

     Prima donna scholars who are shocked that their "perfect" articles are not perceived as such

     Authors who do not follow simple submission instructions

     Authors who send articles that are beyond the aim and scope of a journal

     And anger, rage and hostility- these are the emotions that editors are forced to so frequently
     content with.

Consider this the next time you have an interaction with editor; it might not only improve your outcome, but will at least create a more human zeitgeist in academia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

Another day for two posts, and a post I would rather not write.


I am teaching a four week class, Introduction to Masculinities. It is an intensive, online course based upon a constructionist pedagogy. Students engage in reflective discussions where they work with each other to understand the various ways that masculinities impacts there lives.

It is sadly ironic that this week one of our assignments asks students to use various social theories to explore a scene from the classic Robin Williams film, Good Will Hunting. It happens to be one of my favorite five films. Robin Williams also happens to be one one of my five favorite actors. Yesterday, he died.

I want to write something witty and profound, something to inspire you to write today. Something about writing to honor someone who was brilliant at his craft, or something about not wasting the precious little time we have.

Yet, I think, sitting here, numb and sad, I can tell you I am going to write today, as that is what I know to do.


Interactive Facilitated Accountability Spreadsheet is Happening

Several people have joined, and are beginning to use this tool.  There will be space to join until we get to ten, so let me know if your are interested! Academics and other types of writers might benefits from this interactive mechanism that is desired to help you internalize the need to write through daily check ins. It would also be a valuable tool for graduate students (oh yeah, that dissertation thingy I have been putting off or weeks or months) who need some "push" and accountability.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Philippines Here I Come

I wrote two posts for today; make sure to check out my thoughts on moving from mess to order.

I am excited! In a few days, I will be traveling to the Philippines for a conference, research, and for a visit to two universities, both of whom are collaborating with each other on research infrastructure (a fact I did not know before I explored the offer to work with them, but a wonderful coincidence).

This will be a chance to try out changes I have made to a two day workshop on writing and publishing that I have been conducting for a few years now. While I try to change it often to meet the needs of diverse groups of participants, I have made some major revisions to the parts of my presentations on the psychosocial factors that inhibit writing productivity, and writing productivity itself. I think it is going to really work well; I am excited to try this new material out and to see how it goes!

More about my visits in a couple of weeks!


Mess to Order

In one post, I wrote about the inherent "messiness" of writing (or more specifically, of academic writing). Frequently, I have also written about the importance of structure as a means of helping us keep focused, and the importance of sticking to the architecture of an article.

What gives? Am I contradicting myself here? Is writing messy, or must it be ordered?

Well, how about both!

There are different modes, if you will, of writing, each with a different intention, value, and utility. There are most certainly times when writing is (and should be) a messy, disorganized, and even chaotic process. Yet, as soon as we are able, it is important to develop order for our ideas.

Chaos for inquiry.

Structure for article.

Learn to move from chaos to order. Its not an easy process, but keep the need for both in mind.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Writing Challenge: A Random, Silly One

Today, your job is to write twice in odd places. Think of places in your community that are campy, off, or places nobody would normally write an academic article (although you never know!) . A truck stop? A dive bar?  Sitting on the stoop of a skyscraper (if you have them)? On the stoop of a ritzy apartment complex?  By the baggage claim at the airport? On the bus? Come up with a few.

Changing place shifts perceptive. Shifting perspective leads to surprises.

Do it! Post what you did, if you dare!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Simple Writing Pleasures

The dog in my lap,
a cup of tea,
the cool morning breeze before the summer heat.

Time to spend with the word.
It demands nothing from me.
It just asks me to
create
create
create.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, today I turn 49 years old, which means I am only middle-aged if I live to 98!

Today I am going to continue working on creative nonfiction shorts I have been writing (love love that genre), have a bowl of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soup (here is an image, not from the restaurant where I will eat it, but of one found from the web of the soup itself, yum yum) and contemplate the start of the final year in my 40s.

And what do I want from you, my readers, for my birthday?

As a birthday present to me, help somebody today with their writing.  Share one thing or provide the smallest bit of help or support to someone you know. Pass it on :). I would love to hear about it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Coaching Service: Facilitated Interactive Accountablity Spreedsheet

I told you not to read on Tuesdays if you were not interested in my coaching practice! As of today I am starting a new coaching service; the Facilitated Interactive Accountability Spreadsheet (sounds fancy and formal, no?).

Here is how it will work. I will create a spreadsheet in Google Drive; its super easy to navigate if you have not used it before. I will accept up to ten people per speed sheet, no more. Each day, you post your word count, even if it is zero, and if applicable, make a note about your work (using the comment function in the spreadsheet).

I will interact with participants, provide feedback, and help participants be accountable and productive, and to a small degree, help with skill building. It is an opportunity to be held accountable and get a bit of group coaching on the side. Group members will work to hold each other accountable a well; all group member will have each other's emails, and will be encouraged to "call each other out" (nicely though) when people are not posting their word counts daily (again, if it is a zero- posting your struggles is as important as posting your successes). This format takes advantage of my coaching and skills in group work.

I am going to start this today! If you are interested in joining, write me at Richfurmanphd@gmail.com. The fee is $150 for three months. I am asking people to sign up for three months at a time (or longer), since a big part of what we are trying to do here is build accountability; that takes commitment!. If it takes a while for people to join, don't worry, you would just get more of my time until the group becomes larger!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Imposter Syndrome

It occurred to me that I have not yet dealt with the psychosocial barrier of Imposter Syndrome.  This is very common problem with most scholars (perhaps with most adults), to one degree or another.

Imposter Syndrome, which really is not a unitary syndrome  (syndrome sounds so ominous and essentialist), but instead consists of several core beliefs, occurs when we worry about "being found out."  We worry that at some point we will be discovered as being incompetent, not well-trained, uncreative, and even less smart than we believe others see us as. We worry that a day will come when we will be "outed" as fakes, frauds, and Charlestons. Somebody will finally discover we are not as good as others have thought we were.

There are several potential consequences of Imposter Syndrome. Procrastination and not finishing work is one. If we do finish an article or project and subsequently publish it, for example, one will be able to discover how flawed our ideas really are. If we don't publish our work, we can stay outside of the public gaze; there will therefore me no reason for anyone to "out" us. So, best to live in the shows and keep quiet; nobody will critique our work, and find out how awful it really is!

Imposter Syndrome can also lead us to obsessive workaholism. If we drive and push and outwork everyone, nobody will discover our true nature. Nobody will challenge me, as I publish so much!

Perhaps the most tragic consequences lies in our inability to feel good about our work, about our careers, and even ourselves. Impostor Syndrome robs us of our feeling good, whole, and dare I say, proud.

Sorry folks, no easy answer for this one. This is one that you will need to deal with through your own personal growth process, whatever that may be.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Podcast on the Writing Process by Les Back

In one her responses to a post on my blog, Ana shared a good, short podcast by Sociologist Les Back, where he explores his writing processes. He shares a good deal of moving from being a binge writer to a steady writer. He also shares some powerful anecdotes about the writing life. Its short, so give it a listen. The more we take in valuable messages about writing, and really put them into practice, the more writing can become part of our lives.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Blogging and the Academe

There have been many active debates this year on the relationships between blogging and the academy. Sometimes, the power of a blog lies not so much in the initial post(clearly, based upon my work here!), but on the responses of others. While the initial post in the link that follows is quiet good, read this blog's discussion of a recent proposal on banning blogging by the editor of a journal!

I think it has some powerful implications for what happens when new world technologies meet old word structures. To me, it speaks to the importance of paying careful attention to making sure that are not only are publishing in new medium (if that is your bent), but in more traditional publications as well. This is especially true for those on the job market and tenure track faculty. Perhaps this is a conservative, old-school view; I view it as pragmatic.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feeling Overwhelmed? Write First!



It is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the tasks an academic has to do. Contrary to public perceptions of college professors lounging away and eating bonbons, showing up unprepared for only a few hours of classes, most of us are extremely busy. Many of us manage diverse and challenging roles-developing curriculum, keeping up to date on research and scholarship, our own writing and research, community service, leadership in professional organizations, campus leadership roles and numerous other service obligations. The diversity of our roles, especially when we are knee-deep into the heart of our semesters/semesters, can be overwhelming.

While the temptation is to focus on what feels most immediate, it is important to carve out time for writing, no matter what. Make that your mantra, writing first, "pay myself and my career" first. Small blocks of time for writing helps us manage the overwhelming feeling that another terms is slipping by without our having focused on our scholarship.