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!!