Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Students We Nudge

I had an especially hard quarter teaching. The truth is, I was not at my best, and am feeling like I am just now starting find my way back to loving teaching again. I have been doing this half my adult life now (eeks!), and so a bit of a lull might have been inevitable. I am also just coming through some challenging personal circumstances (divorce); I can have a bit of empathy for myself. My writing has been going well; I love my coaching clients. Both give me increased energy toward teaching; I think I am going to have a great term next quarter!

That said, I also had a hard time due to a particularly challenging group of students (not all, but a few!) As I teach social work practice, sometimes I have to "go there" and push students in ways that make them uncomfortable. I have an ethical responsibility to point out to students behaviors and skills that may be an issue for them in practice. My student are going to work with some of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations; I owe it to them to be real! Sure, I could smile and be funny and witty and focus on charismatic lectures and making them happy. What would be of little service to anyone.

I also need to remember that it is sometimes the students who are most unhappy with me who have contacted me, weeks, months or even years later and have thanked me for the push. I remember one student who said it was during one session with a challenging client when my challenging him for some less than culturally competent behavior finally hit home. He sent me a box of chocolates and a nice note as a thank you (and yes, I was a bit afraid of trying the chocolate :)).

Something all us teachers/professors must remember.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Blogging about Books in the New Year

In the new year, I am going to be doing some more blogging about books! First, for a couple of weeks, I am going to be writing about "books that make my soul sing." I will share some novels, scholarly works, and poetry books that have made a significant impact on my life.

A couple of weeks after that, I am going to explore how authors who have self published books of nonfiction can move toward writing and  publishing their next books with more traditional publishers, including academic and university presses. This transition can mark an important turn in one's career and life.

Stay tuned. Now, back to writing here at Bluebeard coffee here in the Gritty City!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Writing on Saturday

Its a happy day. I spent a few hours in a cafe, writing. Now, in my chair, writing. Soon, will have ice cream for dinner.  I will return to more writing. Narrative nonfiction, an autoethnography, and the work on a new book proposal. Then, I will work out for an hour and a half; weights and the bike in a HIIT routine. Yeah, at fifty, still pushing it. Silly man.

Writing. Dogs. Ice cream. Exercise.

I recommend the same. A good way to end the year.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays to All

As today is an important holiday for many of my readers, I will take a break from dispensing writing and publishing advice today.

May your holidays be full of warmth, joy and love. My the light of the universe fill all of your hearts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Autoethnography

I just published a new article, Autoethnographic Explorations of Researching Older Expatriate Men: Magnifying Emotion Using the Research Pantoum in the journal, Creative Approaches to Research.

For those of you interested in autoethnography, arts based research, poetic inquiry, or other expressive qualitative methods, check it out. For those of you are not so moved by much methods, check it out anyhow!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Processing Circuit Training Week

When I teach group work to social work students, and in my book on group practice, a key lesson is that many people get as much from processing exercises as they do engaging in them. Therefore, I designed a few question for you to consider now that you have completed your training.

1) Which routine worked best for you?
2) What about that structure helped you?
3) Which routines seemed to help you break through your psychosocial barriers to productivity?
4) What psychosocial barriers were still present and were making it hard to engage in this work?
5) Did you notice any internal "chatter" that got in your way?
6) That were the big take aways for you here?
7) What do you still need to work on to help you push your writing and publishing forward?
8) Develop a plan to get you to the next level. Make sure to seek help and resources. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Start of A New Blog: Hope

There are things that inspire in me a sense of rebirth and hope. The start of a new academic term. Petting a puppy. A new coaching client. A new workout principle that I put into place. A new bottle of scotch or bourbon. Hope, as I wrote in post a while ago, is essential for scholars, writers and leaders (and indeed, for all people).

And, a new blog by an academic just finishing her post-PhD journey. Here is one by a colleague that is just 120 miles or so south of me in Portland Oregon, Dr. Bryana Campbell, a new PhD and an adjunct professor in art history. Check it out. She only has a few posts to date, but it be a nice to pay witness to her inner workings as she moves forward.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Consider circuit training for scholars

Hopefully, you were able to engage in each of the five circuit training routines last week. If you did not, try a couple over the next couple of days.

If you did, think about what you learned from the experience. In a couple of days, I will help you process what you learned a bit more formally.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #5

1) Write in least developed section of article (20 minutes)
2) Write in most developed section of article (20 minutes)
3) Skim articles to help you develop least developed section (20 minutes)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #4

1) Write for a half hour
2) Read for a half hour

Repeat at least once today (ok, I liked, this will take more than an hour)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #3

1) Read your free write from the last session (5 minutes)
2) Develop ideas from the free write directly in your article (15 minutes)
3) Work on article conclusion (10 minutes)
4) Put in references (10 minutes).
5) Edit article (20 minutes)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Circuit Training Exercise #2

For one hour.

1) Free write about your article, by hand. Don't think, just write. (5 minutes)
2) Pick the section you wish to work in, write (25 minutes).
3) Read what you wrote. Develop new sentences based on your analysis (analytical writing, 10 minutes).
4) Skim articles to support your work (15 minutes)
5) Free write about what you want to work on during your next session (by or computer, 5 minutes).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day One of Circuit Training for Scholars

Over the next five days, I am going to encourage you to try these writing circuit training routines. As an introduction to how to approach this work, go to this post that I wrote during the summer.  You will need to set aside an hour per day, or more than one hour block if you wish to repeat each circuit more than once.

By following different routines each day, you will begin to get a sense of how to approach the various tasks you must engage in to complete an article, and gain some ideas on how to structure your work sessions.

You may also find that by following these preset plans that you move from worrying about how to work to just getting to your work. Sometimes our brains are our friends, other times, not so much.

So, here it is. For one hour, engage in these tasks as defined.

Note, did you see that the last task was to edit? You do understand, I hope, that editing while you are writing is nothing less than evil. Evil I say.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Circuit Training for Scholars Next Week!

Staring Monday, I am going to guide you through five days of circuit training exercises.  No, you can keep your kettlebells and battle ropes locked in the closet; this is going to be about writing!

The idea is to help you balance tasks that you need to accomplish in service of pushing an article forward. I came up with this "program" based on some positive feedback to a post I wrote, circuit training for scholars, a couple of years ago, and the week of exercises I led you through a couple of months ago.

I have two goals in mind here: 1) to help jump start your writing; 2) to help you consider various patterns of work related to scholarly writing. While you may find that one "training" order works best for you next week, don't overly rely on the method that was most successful. Just as with physical exercise, varying the intensity, duration, and actual routine of our work can lead to some impressive results.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Nice Resource on Writing and Research, Dr. Kay Guccione

I am constantly reviewing resources on academic writing and publishing. Some are good, some great, and some provide dubious information.

I recently found a really good website by Kay Guccione, of the University of Sheffield. She provides research mentoring and coaching to the scholarly community there. From reading her website, I would say they are most lucky to have her.

And now you have a bit of "her."

Check it out! Dr. Kay Guccione's Researcher Portal.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Somewhat miraculous"

It is Monday morning, and last night marked the first night of Hanukkah. It is my first one alone in a very, very long time. I am divorced, and my daughters are not here. Still, I can be grateful for a good deal, and for that which that feels somewhat miraculous.

"Somewhat miraculous" is about as close as I get to the notion of miracle. I am not a person who comes by faith easily. While this is not the place for theology (and in truth, its not a favorite topic of mine with those I don't know and love very deeply) I do have something in mind that pertains to writing.

When I think of the notion of "somewhat miraculous," I think of that which I am gifted. That is, something that seems to have appeared from some collective intelligence beyond my own. Call it the creative energy of the universe, the collective unconscious of humanity, ascribe some religious name to it, whatever you wish.

Writers call it the muse. Sitting down and not having any idea what we are going to write, and having writing transpire anyhow, is somewhat miraculous to me. I know that I have my part in it, and that part is sitting down, being fully present in the moment, and being courageous enough to sit in silence and accept it.

My butt in the chair. My fingers on the keys. I am granted words. From whoever or whatever or wherever I do not care.

Fifty years old, newly alone. Trying to make meaning of my new identity, new notions of family. Still, writing, the muse, always here, always.

Today, I am still, I wait for it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

May the light of the university warm your hearts this Hanukkah. For those in need of extra light, whose hearts are hurting, I offer you my sincere hope for healing.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Go Where Your Energy Is

It is a simple principle, and one that is important to follow. You will be far more productive if you go with your energy, and write what you wish to write. This could apply to re-prioritizing your article order, or what section you focus on.  Not much more to say about it for now, but do consider what this means for you.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Considering Article Reviews

Les Back, a British professor of sociology, writes some wonderfully insightful blog posts about academic life. In one post titled, The Devil You Know, he calls into question the nature of the blind review process.

I have been ambivalent about the practice of blind peer review for a long time. The arguments for it are compelling. By engaging in a blind review, reviewers are safe from retribution, and can give a fair and unbiased review.

Yet, we seldom consider its issues, and the implications of these issues for how we approach our work.

We send our articles to journals, whose editors are supposed to seek out the most qualified experts to read our work. However, this often does not happen. Editors are us, faculty, who rarely get release time for their editorial service. They are super busy, and often don't have time to look for reviewers who are perfect matches for our work. I do not blame them, but this is just the truth.

There are perhaps a dozen reasons why the review process may lead to highly idiosyncratic, sometimes capricious, and often unfair reviews. It is really important that scholars understand the quality of reviews. Too often, young scholars are subtly, and sometimes not so subtly taught that reviews are sacred documents that they must accept as being perfect. This can lead to two unhelpful responses: 1) self downing and not sending the article out for a long time (if ever); 2) authors reacting so defensively as a means of ego self-preservation that they do not pay attention to helpful feedback.

It is important to approach the review process in a non-defensive yet critical manner; reviews are sometimes helpful, but not always If you receive a revise and resubmit, your job is to try, the best you can, to non-judgmentally and non-defensively make all changes you can that do not compromise the integrity of your work. If your article was rejected, your task is to use whatever feedback you can to improve your article in your best, non-defensive judgment.

Your subsequent goal should be to resubmit your rejected article within a couple of weeks (or, it will probably not get resubmitting for a long, long time). You are no longer bound by the reviews of the past reviewers; they rejected you, and you are moving on. Take what you like and leave the rest, as new reviewers are most likely going to focus on an entirely different sets of "problems", most of which you (or anyone besides said reviewer) are not going to be able to predict.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why You Need to Stay in Academia

So many people want you to leave the academe; many of them want your money to help you do so. They play on your fears. Do you really want to leave?

Why should you stay?

Because it is true that only a very small percentage of people publish the majority of scholarship. And based upon your training and skill set, why can't you join that club? Why, because the myth/prevailing belief is that only very special people with special skills can do so. That is just such horse pucky. I have watched many people over the years learn to write and publish articles easily, and far more than they would have dreamed of.  You can too.

There are no tenure track jobs out there, they say. Really? With an ever increasing number of people freaked out and scared about competing for positions, many of whom have fallen victim to the voices of for-profit naysayers who make great money on playing on your fears, there actually are jobs out there. Yes, some fields are very, very competitive. But again, have you done everything you can do to compete? Have you published enough? Have you done all the internal work and skill building that you need to do to compete? Have you given yourself a fair shot?

But, here is the most important reason.

Because if you don't, you may feel like you bailed on your dreams, and may regret it for the rest of your life.

That is why.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World.

The website for one of my two new books on the criminalization of immigration is now live! The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World (Columbia University Press), will be out in March. We are really excited about this book. It turns social policy on its head, and begins with the lived experiences and voices of the most vulnerable, marginalized, or "othered" immigrants around the world.  It privileges narratives, stories and evocative qualitative methods to really paint a picture of the lives of undocumented immigrants around the world.

Here is what one of our reviewers said about it. 

"The Immigrant Other paints a moving picture of the lived experience of immigrants in the contemporary age. Engaging essays cover a broad range of migrants groups, institutional locations and nations. Through memborable narratives of individual struggle and collective resistance, the book provides valuable insight into the pain and struggles, but also the heroism of immigrants in the face of nation states that criminalize their lives." — Robin Jacobson, University of Puget Sound, author, The New Nativism

Please check it out, and suggest it to your libraries, colleagues who teach such courses, advocates, or others interested in the rights of heroes trying to care for their families in an increasingly global, transnational, and complex post-modernity.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pleasure verses meaning

Philosophers may take me to task on several of my armature assertions here, but allow me to be inexact for the sake of a blog post. This blog is to help scholars write and thrive, not to debate the intricacies (however important) of key concepts to philosophical thought.

So, with that caveat....

Throughout the ages, philosophers and others have debated about what makes a life worth living: meaning or pleasure.

If if we are speaking of pleasure, do we speak of hedonistic pleasures, such as eating or sex, or pleasures of a different sort.

Writing is not very satisfying, from a sensory or sensual perspective. We take in nothing and experience very little physically, other than perhaps tightness and discomfort.

Yet, the potential deep joy that we can feel, or meaning can be profound.

Consider how to make writing a source of meaning in your life, even when it cannot be a source of pleasure. It can be for many, but to believe that writing must always, or ever, be extremely pleasurable may contribute to some people's resistance to it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank you

I have spent three or four hours writing a Thanksgiving blog post. However, there are times when a few simple words really convey what we wish to share. And this is it today....

Thanks to all those who have touched my heart this year, and even more, to those who have let me touch theirs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Exercise: Thinking Back Upon "Amy Week"

One of the key principles of psychosocial education is that processing what we read is an essential part of learning. Over the last two weeks, I explored several topics for "Amy week". Read over the posts again, and do some reflective writing about how you can apply some of the lessons to your own work and life.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bringing your right (write) eyes

"Nowhere is magical unless you bring the right eyes to it." Pico Iyer.

Those of you who have read my blog will no doubt not be surprised that I appreciate the above quote. This sentiment can be found within many spiritual traditions and systems of psychotherapeutic change. The universe exists as it exists, and it inherently neither good or bad, but is. We bring our own evaluations to it, or as I explore throughout this blog, or own capacity for either seeing the wonder in it or having existence clouded by our own psychosocial "gunk."

Over the last six months, I have had my willingness to practice what I preach tested. A divorce that I did not plan for, and my daughter leaving the country for a gap year have changed my world in ways I had no anticipated. The very structure of my life, heading toward my fiftieth year, was rocked.

The discourse(s) in my head reflect this change, and are characterized by an essential "awfulness" about this transition. And while my loss is real and my grief is simply grief, it has been important to place this within the context of other fundamental truths.

For example, I am now afforded the opportunity to reinvent myself in a way that I would not otherwise have. I am afforded the opportunity for sinking into myself in a new way, and have opened up a new space in which to be of service to others. I can engage the world in a new way, from a new place- a new me.

What do you need to bring your right eyes to? How do your "wrong eyes" impact your writing, your capacity to write, your scholarship? Consider what you need to do to bring your right (write) eyes to your life.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Amy "Week"-Encouraging Graduate Student Writing and Research

Amy week has gone on for a a bit longer than I thought it would. Part of that was due to the richness of Amy's questions- a couple I explored more than once. Dealing with a flood in my home, fodder for some future posts, I am sure, was also part of it. 

So, without further delay, Amy's last issue: How to work effectively with graduate students to continue writing and research.

I love this question, and really, I could approach it in a bunch of different ways. The most seemingly flip, yet most honest, is that it depends on the actual issues that are stopping the graduate student from writing. The reasons why graduate students do not write and publish are as diverse as those that inhibit faculty. If there was one reason, I would not be approaching 500 posts, and would not have a coaching practice. Really, from my experience, few graduate schools really teach method of writing and writing productivity; we erroneously assume that if you have made it this far, must have mastered such pedestrian skills.

Just like we assume all faculty have these skills, right?


Now, if my premise here is true, than there is one main answer to Amy's querry: Faculty must really understand writing productivity.

Sadly, the vast majority do not. 

Some of the big issues: Evidence based approaches to writing a lot, The use of calendars; Writing rituals; The mode of academic writing (free writing, focused free writing, analytical writing, administrative writing, and editing), The magic paragraph and its relationship to the architecture of an article, and of course, the various psychosocial barriers to writing and productivity that I frequently explore in my blog. There are so many tools.

The best thing you can do for your own career as a scholar is to really master these and other methods. The best thing you can do to help others write and publish is to really understand what blocks people, and understand the tools that help people over come their barriers, and how to help them maximize their strengths. 

Of course, you can have your graduate students (or yourself), attend my Eight Week Online Workshop on writing and publishing! I promise you after that, you will have the skills you need to empower students to write, publish and thrive. (shameless plug over, sorry).

No easy platitudes are going to really do the trick here; there are so many issues.

Finally, thanks Amy for all the great topics. Feel free to keep them coming!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Some Flooding, Will Post Soon!

Groundwater saturation has been taking up some of my time (read, flooding in what was once a very dry and finished basement!), so I will be posting again soon. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Amy Week: Is An Administrative Position Right for You?

The answer: No.

Next question.

Ok, enough of being cute, cynical and/or glib; let me wax about this some.

For three years I was the director of our social work program at the University of Washington Tacoma. Prior to that, I was a program coordinator at UNC Charlotte. As a bit of context, I had a half a dozen or so years in administrative roles in human service organizations, which provides a wee bit of credibility to my book, Navigating Human Service Organizations.

The University of Washington Tacoma is small but growing campus of the University of Washington. When I arrived 7 plus years ago, we had 2600 students. Now, we are approaching 5,000. As a small campus, our structure has been a bit funky (and is changing with growth)- directors really were both department chairs and deans. So, I had the opportunity and the burden of holding a position that allowed me to do both roles; I learned a lot. It was also a ton of work and really not the best representation off typical administrative roles (or, maybe it was- they are all a ton of work!).

I also learned that it was not for me. Frankly, I don't like having to be "on" each and every day. I far prefer the professorial life; I work really hard on my research and teaching, but do so largely at my own pace, and  on my own schedule. Paradoxically, the higher up the organizational ladder you climb, the less your time is your own. Your schedule is not your own; you must attend meetings that you do not have control over. You must like meetings, and see them as being of great value.

I also loved, however, being able to grow and develop programs. That was the joy of being in leadership on a rapidly growing campus, I got to be part of a lot of change, transition, and development.

Being the director is what got me here; my forever academic and physical home. For that, I am grateful, and in truth, for those of us who don't have grant funding and don't need it for our research, taking an administrative position the easiest way to move to a new university. Even productive scholars, unless you bring some type of rock star reputation with you, have a hard time moving unless it is for an administrative position.

But, all that is all about me. How do YOU decide?

First, you have to be real about teaching and research. How important are both to you? You are largely going to trade teaching for administrative work/being of service to your campus. You can do scholarship, but in small blocks of time only, so the nature of your scholarship must fit within that constraint. Most people's scholarship tanks once you become an administrator. It does not have to be that way, but it is what happens to most.

Here are some questions for you to consider.

Do you like to be on campus 9-5?
Are you ready to let go of teaching?
Do you wish to put others' needs before your own?
Do you enjoy helping others' develop their career (although many will ignore your help)?
Do you wish to "climb" to higher organizational positions?
Do you want to move to another university but feel stuck?
Do you love being involved in organizational life each and every day?
Are you cool with your colleagues not seeing you as their "friend" but as their boss, and all the implications of that? (and that does not go away if you step down, at least not right away, as you may have had to hurt some feelings and set some limits with people- not easy on relationships).

There are a lot more questions that I could ask, but I think the truth is, you have to spend a good deal of time reflecting on your motivations, and seeing if they are coming from a good and healthy place. At the least, engaging in some good reflective writing would be in order. Given the magnitude of the change, perhaps discussing it with colleagues, mentors, a therapist, a coach, a rabbi, other religious leaders, ect. It makes sense to discuss it with someone who knows the ins and outs of  university life, but it is perhaps even more important to explore it with someone you feel really safe opening up to (yes, you probably predicted that response, based upon my social work background).

On the other hand, if you are not planning on a move to another university but are considering trying out an administrative position, you can always do so and then step down. However, do be aware that depending on your role, as I mentioned, you may make some enemies in the process.

I realize that this questions is one that really demands a great deal more time, but at least I gave Amy (and other readers) a bit to think about (I hope).

I have one more question to address for "Amy week," and if I do a good job of focusing on my work today, I may even do it tonight, thus actually doing it within a week's time.

Rich loves challenges!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Amy Week Question: Funding

One of Amy's questions/issues: How to manage university pressures to secure grant funding when research time is becoming less and less available.

Now,  my response is for the already tenured, mid-career or later career professor, not those still needing to achieve tenure or secure a job. That seems to be where Amy is in her career, and I do not write enough for this audience anyhow.

Let me start with a bold assertion: The push for gratuitous funding, or funding for the sake of funding, is one of the worst trends in higher education over the last two decades. It is anti-intellectual, anti-intellectual freedom, and encourages conformity and mediocrity.

Bold, eh?

Let me explain.

There is nothing wrong with funding. Funding is great, if, and this is a big if, you need it to do your scholarship.  The purpose of the institution of the university is to create and disseminate knowledge. It is not to chase an ever increasingly shrinking and increasingly pursued stream of funding. A university that wishes to encourage innovation, true innovation, academic freedom, and the best within faculty will create incentives for faculty to follow their passions. What their passions are really does not matter; that is the nature of academic freedom. When faculty are freed to pressure their passions that are most dear to their heart, that is when they will create magic. 

Faculty that pursue grants for the sake of grants will engage in status quo oriented research that merely greases the wheel. They will use accepted methodologies about accepted issues. If your research is aligned with big grant funding mechanisms, fantastic. If not, then why would you give up your whole life to pressure funding? ( a bit of a hyperbole, whole life, perhaps, but...)

Why? As Amy's questions implies, the pressure of the all mighty buck, and the institutional, structural, and administrative demands to do otherwise.

And yes, dear associate and full professors, I know that the pressures are great. Deans, administrators, department chairs, and others engage in subtle and not so subtle influence on us. But, remember; You are tenured!  Tenure means that you get to pursue your passions and dreams and that you are mandated, required, and morally obligated to do so. I am not suggesting that you neglect your scholarship here; I am suggesting that you do so in a way that pleases you. Grant funding is a means, not the ends. Dissemination is the ends! Yes, we all have to do a good job of selling what we do; that is just part of life. And, I do see it is a moral responsibility not to pack it in and coast once you receive tenure or final promotion to full; in fact that really pisses me off! Yet, we are far more secure than we sometimes feel, and we have a great deal more choice than we sometimes believe. It is a pretty rare situation in which a tenured professor is fired for not receiving funding (has it happened??). 

So, do your scholarship, and do it well. Use the tools suggested in this blog to carve out blocks of time each and every day to become the type of scholars that you wish to be. I know, it is not as simple as that; that is why I have going on 500 posts!! 

Sooner rather than later, we will all be dead. Live hard,  love hard, play hard, research hard, rest deeply. Do not be seduced by those who seek to bend us to their will; especially post tenure!

Not sure if this is what Amy hand in mind, but it is what is on my mind :).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Amy week Question 1C: Goal Attainment

Here is a simple one. One of the problems that mid and advanced career professors have is that we really don't have very good work and productivity skill and habits. Many have gotten by on their smarts, drive, and doing great work. Yet, how they do this work often is really not very efficient, evidence based or wise. It is way so many full professors give such awful advice on writing, publishing, peer review, ect. Their tools are often very flawed, but they have gotten due to other skills and strengths.

If you know you need to learn some new skills, what you need to do is really fess up and admit that you have some deficits. This is harder to do at this stage of our careers, as we are presumed to "get it." Yet, starting with a good assessment of your work habits is a good way of jumpstarting your career. Check out this blog for ideas on self assessment. Pick up one of the many books on work productivity, writing productivity, or other such resources. It also starts with the humility of saying that now that you can do whatever you want, you own it to yourself to learn to do it with as little wasted effort as possible.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

December New Client/ Winter Break Coaching Package

Once classes are over, December is a relatively quiet time for academics. It is also a good time to take a step back, consider where we are, evaluate how we have been doing, and plan moving forward.

So, since December is a mellow time for me, I am going to be offering a coaching package for those who would like to try out writing/publishing/academic coaching, and do so in an intensive manner.

For this package, you get five sessions to be used all between December 7th and January 3rd. This is for new clients only, and is $300 (less than half my regular rate).

Please email me if you are interested in talking about it, or even better, taking a chance and signing up! I can promise you a great deal of new insights to help you start your new year!

Amy Week Question 1B: The Real Work, Self Discovery

Let's jump into Amy Week Question 1, part B. As a reminder, Amy brought of up the following issue: How to set goals/direction when all the external "gold rings" (tenure and promotion) are done.

My previous post suggested that one must accept this lack of external direction as a loss, and grieve the loss of this part of our movement toward a next phase of professional and personal development. The need to climb is over; one must grieve this reality as a loss of a significant part of our live structure, and even our identity.

Now, once this loss is grieved, guess what?

You get to be yourself! You now can do what you wish to do with your career. By having moved through the grief and loss, you are afforded a powerful freedom that very few on the planet have. This truly is an amazing privilege. Take it in. Take in that feeling of safety that you were not able to experience before. Breath. Breaking is good. Really. Short of doing something really stupid, you have a stable work situation for as long as you wish!

Now, enjoying this new sense of freedom assumes that you have some sense of direction, or some sense of the areas in which you want to work. If you don't, or if it is murky, I would suggest that no simple tools, tricks, or blog posts are going to be the magic bullet for what ails you. You are going to want to spend some time with a mentor, coach, or therapist that can really help you do some "soul" work. I know, this is not what you wanted to hear, but it is the truth (or the way I see the truth, anyhow, but perhaps I am biased by coaching practice and training as a clinical social worker). There is little substitute for quality conversations in which a caring and empathic, skillful other who can help you uncover your passions and dreams. Now that you are freed from the shackles of must, you are called upon to look into the reflective pool of self. This is why we have sabbaticals, although we don't often use them for this.

Once you have your goals and dreams uncovered, the rest is easy, right?

Well, maybe not- part three coming up soon :).

Behind on Amy Week!

Sorry I am a couple of days behind folks; I will be catching up soon!! Doing a revise and resubmit, and have been on fire on three autoethnographies on which I am working. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Online Workshop On Writing and Publishing with The Taos Institute!

It is now official, I am conducting an online workshop with the wonderful Taos Institute. Register soon, as spaces are going to be somewhat limited. I will write more, but I have never been so excited about a collaboration!

A Taos Institute Workshop

Rich Furman, MSW, PhD

Dates: January 25 – March 18, 2016 (an 8-week online workshop)

This eight-week online workshop is designed to empower scholars and doctoral students to increase their ability to write and publish. It adopts a strengths-based, developmental approach that deconstructs evidence-based strategies unknown to most scholars. Conducted by an internationally known writing coach, therapist and professor, participants personalize lessons to meet their scholarly goals and dreams through writing exercises, on-line discussions, weekly group conference calls and video lectures. This workshop helps participants master skills and knowledge within four domains:

1) Writing productivity
2) The ins and outs of writing articles, books and dissertations
3) Managing the journal selection, submission and peer review processes
4) The psychosocial barriers that inhibit these three other domains. This last area is a special focus and expertise of the facilitator and makes this course a unique and fulfilling experience.  

  1. Master methods of writing productivity.
  2. Make significant progress on longer projects (books and dissertations), or complete and submit an academic article.
  3. Develop tools for breaking through personal blocks and barriers that hinder writing productivity and scholarly success.
  4. Develop life-long and regular practices for successful writing

Live Group Calls:
  1. Each week for the 8 weeks everyone will participate in a group conference call.
  2. Calls will be held on Wednesdays each week for 1.5 hours.
  3. The time for the calls is 11:00 AM NY time/ Eastern US Time – please see the WorldClock website to convert to your own time zone.
How to register:
Go to this link, (Register Now!) complete and submit the form, and then make your payment. Your registration is complete only upon receipt of the registration fee. If you need assistance, email

Registration Fee: (US dollars)
Student - $450(register by Dec. 15th)
General - $700 (register by Dec. 15th)

Late registration fee (after Dec. 15th) add $75

Registration due no later than January 15th.


Rich Furman, MSW, PhD, is Professor of Social Work at the University of Washington Tacoma and author of the acclaimed, “Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles.”  Rich’s mission is to empower academics to maximize their strengths and transcend their psychosocial barriers so they can build powerful careers and thrive. In addition to having conducted workshops around the world on scholarly writing and publishing, he provides individualized coaching to doctoral students and scholars of all academics ranks, in all academic and professional disciplines. He is the author of over 15 books and over 120 peer-reviewed articles. His areas of interest include globalization and social work, men and masculinities, the criminalization of immigration, and expressive qualitative methodologies.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Question 1 of Amy Week Part A: The Dilemma of Being Yourself

Well, I thought I was going to be able to address each of Amy's week question in one post each, but as I consider question number one,  I am going to have to explore it in several posts. So, Amy week may turn out to be Amy month (says Rich with tongue planted very firmly in check). So, without any more contextualization, lets begin on question number one.

Question (or issue) one from Amy: How to set goals/direction when all of the external "gold rings" (tenure and promotion) are done.

I actually addressed this question indirectly last year a couple of times during my sabbatical, but let me explore it in more depth, and with fresh eyes.

I begin with my own paraphrasing of Henry Miller from Tropic of Capricorn: When you reach the limits of what is demanding of you, you reach the same dilemma, to be yourself. Dilemma is often not fully accurate; the better word often is crisis.

It is hard to imagine when one is a doctoral student seeking a tenure track position, or an assistant professor fighting for survival, but tenure and then promotion to full professor actually present and represent profound developmental shifts that can sink scholars into deep emotional water. Perhaps some of you are thinking, boo hoo, poor privileged tenured associate professor or full professor with your cushy salary and life time job security. "First world problems" is sometimes how these conundrums are labeled.

And this is partially why working through such a crisis is difficult; many do not accept or believe they are entitled to the powerfully mixed feelings that one goes through when the reach such a milestone. By not believing that their feelings are normal, the newly promoted professor sweeps their feelings under the rug, put on their happy and grateful masks, and only allows themselves their more cheery and institutionally accepted feelings.

Yet with this denial, as with all denials, come powerful costs. Without the external pushes and threats, scholars are forced to recognize that for the first time in their lives, perhaps, they are not having to respond to the demands of others. As the existentialists knew, with freedom comes anxiety. And with all losses, there is grief. This grief, the loss on connection to a community of expectations, can create powerful anxiety, loss, and leave us feeling without direction.

The problem is this: if you do not make space for taking in all of the feelings that go with this developmental shift, you cannot fully move past it. Without winter, there is no spring. Without allowing for the difficult fallow of not knowing who you now are supposed to be, many find themslves running form project to project, without coherence, or struggle with that they view as "low motivation."

So for now, for post number one of Amy week, I suggest that one piece of unpacking this dilemmas of self direction is to allow oneself to feel lost and aimless for a while. We need to experience the totality of our humanness, of our loss, not just the gratitude of promotion.

Stay tuned for post number two of Amy week :).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Its "Amy" Week!

I have been writing this blog since 2012.  Perhaps once a year or so, I have asked readers to send me question to write about; other times, readers have sent me unsolicited questions. It's been really helpful; your questions provide me inspiration and ideas when my own personal well runs dry, or a sense of meaning when I am feeling as if I am writing into a black whole (a common feeling for writers and scholars, at times).

Yet, never have I received a group of questions so relevant, so well written, and so worthy of exploration as those I received a few days ago from  "Amy".

The next week or so I am referring to as Amy week, as I will be taking each of her questions and exploring them here. As I think you will find, there is some overlap in questions one and two, but there are a few ways of approaching and unpacking the issues implicated in each question. So, I will address them both. Below are Amy's five questions; lets see how long it takes me to tackle them.

Its on Amy!!

 (1) how to set goals/direction when all of the external 'gold rings' (i.e., tenure, promotion) are done; (2) how to find research and writing topics that are motivating when one is mid-career and not as excited by previous research areas; (3) how to work effectively with graduate students to continue researching and writing; (4) how to decide if an administrative track (chair, dean, etc.) is a good option for one's career; and (5) how to manage university pressures to secure grant funding when research time is becoming less and less available.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Poems for a Narrative Non-fiction Book?

I am playing with the idea of a longer narrative nonfiction piece, memoir or autoethnography about a group of friends that I have loved for nearly thirty years. One has been dead for a decade, one is still close, one lost to me, and one only a casual contact. I still love them all.

I thought I would share, for fun and perhaps inspiration, a couple from my book of prose poems, Companero. I may explore some of my ideas publicly for a new book idea at some point, but am just working it through now. For now, enjoy. These two are about my dear friend who I have been disconnected from for about 6 years. If you read this, Will, I am here, and will always be here.

My Friend Will

The night she left I took the train under the bay to drink with my friend Will. Throwing down bottles of amnesia, stopped crying long enough to hold his convulsing head vomiting into the toilet, one of those porcelain, bobbing headed Jesus dolls. I held my feelings like he held his booze: both suffocating us, the stench of something buried, needing to be forgotten. Cleaned his face with a wet salmon rag, took an hour to take off his slumping mad laughing clothes, tucked him in bed. Decided not to sob without audience. Out the beige, oval framed Berkeley window, my finger tracing each plane dissecting the blackest sky, wondering which one she was on.


Penniless, he flew out for my wedding. He asked, do you really want a fat old Jew boy so close to your bride? May wilt the flowers in her hand, the wild daisies on the hill below your mountain alter. Scare off the gods, demoralize the armies. Do you remember, Will, years ago, when another had also left? We drank sour mash and watched her plane dissect the sky in a miserable geometry. You said, do you really want to mourn with a fat old Jew boy? Sicken your heart, already battered, contracting barnacles? Held your head as you heaved that fowl, cheap whisky. Tucked you into bed. I found a good spot of the floor, somehow she had disappeared.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

Pico Iyer is one of my favorite writers. If you have not checked him out, his Video Night in Kathmandu is a stunning travel memoir/narrative non-fiction, East meets West globalizations explorations. Perhaps I will explore this more fully in another blog post, but do check it out.

Pico is also a wonderful commentator on the importance of meditation, self-reflection, and the need to go within. I just watched an excellent Ted Talks video, in which he explores this need for writers, creatives, and frankly, all humans.

In my coaching practice, I frequently am called upon to help clients quiet their internal critic: a more noxious and nefarious manifestation of our general tendency toward internal chatter. Meditation, contemplation, mindfulness, and other reflective practices are valuable tools (although calling them tools may dismiss their importance) toward helping writers and scholars meet their goals. During "psychosocial summer" I present several other tools as well to help you control your self-downing and other difficult internal dialogues.

Please watch this wonderful video by a wonderfully thoughtful writer and human being.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Topics for My Blog?

I have now written nearly 450 blog posts in Write, Publish, Thrive. Not bad, as many blogs seem to lose steam well before that! I do feel like I am in a bit of an idea rut, after a really active few months, so would love for my readers to make suggestions. As I have written about, scholarship is a collaborative process; we all need each other.

So, what would you like me to write about? What would you like me to explore in more depth, or perhaps take another look at? Feel free to challenge me, push me; I do it to you!!

Post here, or send me an email :). 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall Job Hunting Package!

Well, some of you took advantage of the summer job hunting package, so let's do it this fall!

Are you on the academic job market? Preparing to start your search? Are you prepared? Do you have the mentorship and coaching you need to thrive on the market?  Do you want to work with someone who has coached dozens of doctoral students and faculty and has helped them find positions that match their needs, values and desires? I have the coaching, psychotherapy, and academic skills and experience to help you approach your search with confidence!

I am offering a job-hunting preparation package which includes well over ten hours of coaching at far less than my normal rate.  If you know of anyone who is on the academic job-hunting market, do let them know!
This coaching package includes:
1.     Seven hours of individual coaching sessions on job hunting skills and strategies, how to conduct your job talk and interviews, working together to identify and remove the psychosocial barriers that inhibit job hunting and interviewing, preparing for and role-playing interviews, and other topics individualized to your particular needs (including discussions of writing and scholarship, as desired)
2.     Three hours of individual consultation to review your CV and cover letter including in-depth feedback  (initial review and final review once initial changes are made)
3.     Two hours of follow-up coaching during the fall and winter interview seasons

$750 total! Discounts for those in-need and from developing countries.
I am also open to taking new clients who want to work on their writing and publishing for a similar package, if you know anyone. My coaching practice focuses on helping doctoral students and faculty thrive as publishing scholars. I do have special rates for scholars from developing countries and doctoral students in need.

Please contact me for a free half hour consultation to see how I can help you in your job search, or to Write, Publish and Thrive.

Rich Furman, PhD, is professor at the University of Washington Tacoma and the author of over 120 articles and 15 books. He has mentored and coached faculty on writing and publishing for a decade and a half, and is passionate about empowering doctoral students and faculty to have powerful, meaningful, and joyous careers.

Monday, November 2, 2015

No one makes it alone...

Why do academics need help and support to thrive?

Consider a quote from the book Outliers, by journalist and writer Malcolm  Gladwell: "No one- not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, not even geniuses- ever make it alone."

In other words, academics are human. Nuff' said.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Assistant Professor Graduation Day

I am sitting in Denny's (yes, Denny's) just having finished my pecan pumpkin pancakes.

I really do eat a healthy, mostly a veggie and tofu diet, but have a weakness for pancakes. And ice cream. Well, maybe I eat a semi-healthy diet :).

Anyhow, I am feeling a bit emotional; and it is not just from how good the pancakes tasted, although, they were pretty awesome!

I just finished responding to an email in which one of my clients informed me that he just submitted his tenure and promotion  packet. While he is still anxious (dah!), his is a pretty open and shut case. As such, there is a 95% chance that this marks his graduation day, graduation from working with me, his coach.

I always cry during graduations (yes Rich, you cry at just about anything), so I am welling up a bit with tears here, thinking about how proud I am, and how lucky I feel to having been able to be a small part of his process. He has been wonderful to work with: dedicated, open to suggestions, willing to make changes, hard working, self-reflective and willing to take ownership for his growth process.

For him, of course, the real graduation will be that day that he receives his final letter saying he has been promoted to associate professor, with tenure. He will tell me, and again, I will cry.

And maybe I will then celebrate, with pancakes! (or ice cream!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Exercise: Three Titles

Been knee deep in so much, that I am a bit behind on my blog writing. For now, let's do this exercise.

Come up with three titles to potential articles that you would like "somebody" to write.

Consider which one you could do.

Consider which one you would want to do.

Consider writing it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Edit when your burned out!

When you want to push your paper forward, but are feeling tired or burned out, edit! This is a way of attending to the little line by line issues without sucking our best creative energy. Working on citations is another when "not feeling it" is another way of pushing or work forward when we are just not feeling "inspired."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Taking A Break From The Change Process

One of my favorite clients has decided to stop working with me for now. She may begin back working with me during the winter term. We were about to start an additional ten weeks of work together; this would have followed a ten week period. Her "gut" told her it was time to take a break.

I applaud her for the courage to listen to her gut; this is not easy to do. I think she was a bit concerned that I would be disappointing in her (or perhaps, my projection/misinterpretation); I am in fact proud. One of our themes has been her owning her new position as a senior faculty member with tenure (yay!); that demands a new level of self-direction, autonomy, and choice.

There are times when it is wise to take a break (at least) from every change process to see what has taken hold. In the process of weekly coaching or therapy, it is not always clear what skills, tools, or new sensibilities we currently "own." We need to take some space, live our lives, and see how we are performing what we have explored and learned.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Writing and Other Tasks

A reader wrote me this morning asking me to explore the relationship between writing time and data analysis time. That is, how do we conceptualize the need for data analysis and like tasks and engaging in daily or near daily writing rituals. Does data analysis count towards as writing time?

This is a topic that elicits strong feelings from some. I get the sense that when I say that research tasks do not count toward writing time that they feel I am invalidating the importance of that work.

I am not.

What I am saying is that there is something amazing that happens when we find ways of writing every day. I am also saying that from my experience there are many, many scholars who can "hide" in data analysis and use it as a way of procrastinating  on their writing, and ultimately avoiding getting their work "rejected."

I am also suggesting that no matter the type of work we do, we can always have an article to write whether or not we have data to work from. I have addressed this before, so I am not going to make that argument now. I can tell you it is one that I usually win when I can explore it with someone live or in a google hangout :).

So, the goals is to write every day and also set aside blocks of time for data analysis and other scholarly work as needed. There should be a symmetry and balance to this; spending too much time on one task, on all of our tasks, squeezes our ability to be productive.

In general, write first, each and every day. Teaching preparation, grading; these things will take as much time as we allot to them; when we write first, we tend to be more efficient in these tasks as we make those more time limited as well.

In a few weeks I am going to do a "cross training week" where I am going to put out some possible sequencing for scholarly work. For now, try this: write for thirty minutes every day. Data analysis and other research tasks in blocks, as they fit, for two to three hours a week. As a bare minimum, this is enough to be pretty productive. Adjust as energy and time permit.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Book is A Journey?

Eh, no so much. I saw this in a blog post recently. Such metaphors are problematic, as they often elevate the writing of an article or book to an act of magical and spiritual proportions. A scholarly book is not a journey. It is a long piece of writing that comes together to meet a purpose. It is composed of chapters, which are far easier to write than is a whole book. Chapters are made of various notions we want to explore, and this is done thorough sentences. Sentences are composed of words.

If this makes me appear to be an unromantic simpleton, so be it. When I was negotiating some of the details of my book, Social Work Practice with Men at Risk, the wonderful social work editor at Columbia University Press the time, Lauren Docket (the current editor, Jennifer Perrillo, is also wonderful!), suggested that my proposed word count was too low. She reasoned that 120,000 words was not enough for a book that was to be the first of its kind in social work. She suggested 160,000 words as a far better length.

Gulp.  I hung up the phone, having agreed to her suggestion, and wondered how in the world was I going to write a book of that length. I was a bit freaked out. Before that, the longest thing I wrote from beginning to end was Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles; about 40,000 words long!

After some panic, I realized I did not have to write a book. I had chapters to write, of about 10,000 words each. Each chapter had key sub sections and in each chapter I had to integrate four theories of change. I could do that.

Was my book a journey? Sure, it was. After a few months start, I wrote intensively during a research trip to Peru. I spent several hours a day in my "office," Starbucks in Miraflores, in the artistic, romantic heart of Lima. I wandered the town and wrote in bars and cafes. When back home, I wrote each day, and magically saw the word counts grow; it began to come together over the course of months. Yes, writing that book was a journey, and it was a profoundly important step in my career. However, thinking of it as a journey at the time would have needlessly caused me anxiety. I needed to see it as a series of operationalizable writing tasks. I needed to make it small. I needed to be able to write sentences, and string them together.

Looking back, the writing of that book was a powerful journey, but viewing it as such may be best saved for quiet, personal moments of self reflection over a single malt scotch. Like right now. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Processing Exercise Week: Your Tapes

Writing for 15 minutes three times in a day should not be hard, right? In fact, it is not hard, unless there are factors that make it hard aside from the task (dah!). Too often, scholars attribute their difficulties to factors that are really not the most central to their success or lack therefore of in writing and producing. This is part of why I wanted you to try the exercises this week, to help you begin to explore the real reasons why you are not writing and producing as much as you wish. If the problem was time, then you should have been able to fit in some of the these exercises, as they really demanded very little time commitments. Some, I know, did demand a good deal.

Yet, time is rarely the factor. I know many of you believe it is; I piss of a good deal of people when I suggest that is not the true issue.

Yet, I was just in a video chat with a coaching client who wrote 500 words during a twenty minute block of our session. Yes, there are not finished words. Yes, she will need to engage in analytical writing, administrative writing, and finally editing to make it "work." It was productive though, and she did far more than she believed she could.

If you really want to thrive as a scholar, you need to start paying attention to your "tapes"; the cognitive message that interfere with your thriving. If you are starting to identify them, great. If not, go through this blogs' July and August posts, as you will identify many, and start learning strategies for conquering them. You can't merely label them as writer's block; this is too inelegant a concept and not really helpful.

You've got work to do on changing your tapes, your programming. If you don't do this work, you may be at risk of not having the kind of career you deserve to have.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Utilizing Lessons from Exercise Week

Some of you did all the writing prompts during Exercise Week; and let me know that it was really helpful. I assume this was a biased sample, and heard less from those who did not find them of value.

Hopefully, you have been thinking about why it has been of help or not. This week, I am going to present a few difference ideas about why it may have been of value, and what it means if it was not. 

If you found it useful,  I want to give you on idea to try. Take a look at your weekly calendar, and see if you can fit each of the five exercises into one of the days of the week. Try doing them again, in a different order.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Jazz Thinking Back to Pre-Tenure

At a coffee house I dig just outside of Tacoma; and listen to jazz. Its been a while since I have written to jazz; its something I used to do a great deal. Sitting here, it reminds me of what it was like to write as a young assistant professor at Colorado State, back in 2000.  Pre-tenure, there was this constant pressure and a bit of fear. In the right doses, it was energizing. While some of you may think this is a bit crazy, part of me misses that constant external push in the background of my life.

The costs were so high if I failed; a young family that relied on me, the hopes for a life's work as a scholar that depended upon the evaluations of others. That push kept me writing, writing in a way that helped me to produce work that I perhaps would not have done so without. It is different now, I write what I want, when I write, and have very little external pressure. While the decrease in anxiety has led to freedom, I do miss those times, and am reminded of them today.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I discovered a really nice blog post from a Canadian scholar who wrote about scholarly writing for a period of time. Here is a nice nugget from her, on what I would call a holistic exploration of the modes of academic writing.  She calls it Allatoneceness. Whoa!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Upcoming Book: Detaining the Immigrant Other

Just got a sneak peak of the cover for my upcoming book with Oxford University Press, Detaining the Immigrant Other. This MAY be the final version, so if it is not, I may eat crow!!

I love how simple and classy it is; it hints at detention without ramming it down your throat. I will talk about this book more another time, but thought I would share this for now. It is coming out in February. I will get the preorder form up soon!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Processing Exercise Week: Questions for Self Reflection

Now that we have finished five days of writing exercises, I want you to explore some self reflective questions (in writing, of course). Spent about a half hour or so; use these as your "warm up" to your other writing.

The questions are arranged by how engaged you were in the exercises. Feel free to "mix and match."

For those who completed all the exercises

1) Which exercise worked best for you? Why?

2) Which exercise was least helpful? Why?

3) What did you learn from engaging in these exercises that you can bring into your own practice?

4) Craft a plan for the next two weeks based upon these insights.

For those who completed some but not all

(begin with the questions above)

1). When you were able to write, what strengths facilitated your writing?

2) When you were not able to engage in the exercises, what got in your way?

3) Which of the barriers that stopped you are in your control, and how can you make changes to help your writing agenda?

4) What "internal chatter" got in your way?

5) What support and resources do you need based upon what you have learned?

For those who tried, but were not able to do many much writing

1) What structural barriers interfered with your writing?

2) What "internal chatter" got in your way?

3) Describe your feelings and self perceptions about not being able to engage in the exercises. Are these thoughts and feelings that frequently get in your way?

4) If you are not able to identify what gets in your way, consider what this means for you?

5) What supports have you used in the past to help you transcend these issues? What has helped, what has not helped?

Over the next few days, I will explore some of my thoughts to help you consider the uses and implications of the exercises, and your own reflective processing of them.