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.


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 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.