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

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 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.