Friday, December 30, 2016

Focus on One Change at a Time

I teach helping skills and social work practice classes. Watching developing helpers engage with their colleagues in live- real helping triads (one of my favorite teaching "tools"), I learn a great deal about the nature of helping and change. It allows me to watch "mistakes" being performed, and watch their consequence on actual human change.

One of the mistakes that many developing helpers make is trying to solve too many problems at one time, or attempting to get their clients to develop many different skills at once. Invariably, such a diffuse focus is overwhelming for a "helpee." It also prevents them really using their strengths and capacities to deeply engaging in the change process. Changing one thing is difficult, changing many, well.

What does this mean for you? 

Focus on one change at a time. Forget about the ten things you want to change. Take one, develop a plan for making that change, set about following your plan, and then evaluate your success.  If you are not happy with the progress you have made, develop a new plan, or get additional help and support. If you are happy with what you have achieved, go to the next issue.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Failing

When I was younger, I would post my poetry rejections on one wall, and my acceptances on the other.

The rejections far out-numbered the acceptances, probably by ten to one.  It was not about me beating up on myself, it was about recognizing that to achieve anything of meaning, you are going to have to fail a great deal.

Failing is a big part of the journey of academics. If you don't fail, that means you have not taken risks. Of course, I am not suggesting that risk taking is the only reason for failure; this blog is full of posts about the various issues that hinder scholar's success. We all know as well that the number of full time faculty positions has been falling; other structural barriers abound. However, we have to become comfortable with failing, or more importantly, with understanding that failing and being a failure are not one and the same.

If you allowed yourself to enter the bravest space you could imagine, what chances would you take? What would you risk losing or failing at? What do you need to do to move into this space? What supports do you need to enter and stay there?

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Year Resolutions: A Challenge

Read my post on New Year Resolutions for Academic Writers. Decide if you want to integrate any of these into your already-full list of resolutions. Now, cut the list in half, so you actually have a shot at making a change.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Yes, I Leave My Writing Chair!!

I reader recently asked me if I ever left my writing chair. True, I am a bit anti-photography and selfies (for another post), so that really is the only place I feel good about snapping pics.

Yet, I figured I would provide my readers some evidence of my ability to leave my house, and my dogs, for even a short period of time :). Currently at the airport, waiting for my brother's visit. Yay!

Happy Holiday's and New Year! May the light of the universe shine into your hearts.


Friday, December 23, 2016

10 New Year Resolutions for Academic Writers


Colleague and scholar, Ana Isabel Canhoto, forwarded me a list of 10 New Year resolutions for writers, and challenged me to come up with one for academic writers.  Not one to let a friendly challenge go unmet, I present to you my list of ten, with brief discussions of each. Like many lists of this sort, the purpose is to help you reflect a bit, and make some decisions for yourself. I could have come up with more, and debated the importance, but I have some other writing to do!

1) Write at least five times a week-Yes, you have heard it perhaps a hundred times: daily writing beats binge writing. It is true, but if it were only that simple, we would not need resolution number two, which is really where the rubber meets the road.

2)  Work on emotional/behavioral/cognitive impediment to daily writing. Yes, it is easy to say "write daily" but many of us carry with us a range of psychosocial factors that get in the way of our daily writing. If you don't attend to these, you may find it far harder to be productive.

3) Write before any technology use. Yes, write before you email. Before you text. Before you Facebook. Before you Instagram. Before you whatever.

4) Attend to time wasting and distractions. See number three, but this is important. Develop writing rituals and habits that account for the importance of writing in your life. Also, understand that lack of time is almost always an excuse for not writing. Everyone has the time if they make it a priority. The question is, what are you doing with your time?

5) Select the journal and the word count for your article prior to starting. So much time is wasted by not making these decisions beforehand. Also, make sure you really understand how to select a journal. If you think picking the one with the highest impact factor or one that has, on paper, the shortest turn around time is all there is too it, you have a ton to learn about journal selection. Sadly, most faculty, even highly published ones, really don't think through journal selection well, and really don't have much to teach about it.

6) Learn to develop an architecture with word limits. Selecting word count, and the use of the magic paragraph, is key. Have not seen me write about these a great detail? True, I can't give away all my secrets :).

7) Develop and trust process goals. Develop daily processes that lead to positive outcomes. Be less worried about outcome goal, but more concerned with staying in process. If you want to learn more, check this out! 

8) Develop a plan for making changes. Having a simple change plan is important. Having it posted and reading it each day is essential. We can make long and elaborate plans, but if they are too complex and hard to follow, or if we don't review them daily, we are not going to change.

9) Find the help and support that you need to make changes. Book. Article. Mentor. Supervisor. Therapist. Coach. Editor. Rabbi.  Shaman. Guru. Priest. Imam. Therapy dog. Dog. Dog. We often need help when we set about making changes. There is no shame in this. Really. Truly. The shame is in not reaching out for support and help. We often say we can't afford it, but we can't afford not to.

10) You choose your final writing resolution. Post it here. Or tweet it to me. But, only after your daily writing :).


Friday, December 16, 2016

Write Publish Thrive Video Webinars!

I am stoked!! (and yes, I grew up in Los Angeles).

Over the last couple of years, several of my readers have asked if I conduct short video webinars. I have conducted a few, most significantly through the outstanding National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (learn about their work, if you do not know them!).  I have been thinking about doing this for a while, and now that I am past my crazy busy quarter, I am ready to start! So, men and women, boys and girls, cats and dogs, I present to you the first of my monthly video webinars, to be conducted using the easy to use and access Zoom platform.

Process Goals Verses Outcome Goals: Starting the New Year Right (Write)

What: In this 1.5 hour, interactive video webinar (one hour lecture and experiential exercises, and half hour Q and A), I will explore my effective, process oriented approach to goal setting and productivity. I will interrogate the relationship between the psychology of productivity and goal setting, and present easy to implement tools to help you start your year off right (write). During our time together, you will have the opportunity and space to work on implementing the tools we are learning; you will come out of this with actionable steps to implement right (write) away!

When: January 6th, at 9:30am, Pacific Time (Noon East Coast Time)

Where: Anywhere in the world. While video is preferred, you will be able to access the workshop through your phone on audio only (in case you are driving during that time, or are at the beach!)

Price: $25.00, Paypal to my email address

How many:  20 max, first come, first serve

How: Once you pay, you send me an email and I will give you the Zoom chat link

Who: Doctoral students, university faculty of all types and ranks, PhDs, creatives, professionals and leaders who write and would benefit from a fresh, effective way of approaching goal setting.

Contact: Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

It is going to be Shradical!! (Shredding meets radical) :).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Stop before your done

Try this. Today, spend some time on your writing. Once you get into it, and are really in a groove, stop. Feel the frustration of not being able to continue. I mean, really feel it. Take it in. Write in your scholarly journal about it.

Why did I ask you to do this?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Do I Make A Difference?

A few weeks ago, I accidentally "published" the title of this post before I wrote anything in the body! I meant to save it as a draft, and come back to it later (something I frequently do when I have ideas for posts).

It was very touching, I received several emails and "comments" from readers saying that I did, indeed, make a difference. If that was you, thank you :).

Now, however, to the issue I really want to address, which honestly did not have to do with any insecurity around my impact on the world.

On the other hands, that really is the issue. Not my impact, but the belief that one should only do work that is going to be transformative.

World-changing.

Cutting edge.

Difference maker.

Innovative.

Game-changing.

Starting to feel anxious even reading those expectations?

Over many years of working with scholars, I have listened to many that must publish work that makes a difference. From an ethical standpoint, this is great. Who does not want to make a difference? This is the reason why I choose to publish on the criminalization of immigration and immigration detention and its relationship to my field, social work.

The problem is that too many scholars who hold these expectations produce very little work, and not because they are taking their time and improving the quality for their scholarship. Too often, the bars that they set for themselves become shackles on their ability to write freely, stay in process, and paradoxically, do excellence work. These expectations take on a life of their own, and become constellations of beliefs that are horribly limiting.

Key words for cognitions that impede our process? Should. Must. It is called, Masterbation.

When I say I am not interested in my impact, what I mean is that all I can do is put myself out there, do solid work, and let the external world judge me.  Metaphorically, I make belts. I put up dry wall.

The impact that I have really is not something I can control. I can do my research, submit it, move on to the next piece, repeat.

And repeat. Year after year.

It is the culmination of our work that will be judged by others. I prefer to do the best I can in each moment, keep growing and changing, and learn to "be" with my work.

And if my scholarship makes a significant contrition?

Yay.

If not, I can be of service to others, pet my dogs, love my kids, enjoy this precious bit of life we are given.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter Break Job Hunting Check Up

Its a joyous time for many, but for those on the academic job market, are or close to entering it, it can be stressful. As  the busiest term of my life has now ended, I wanted to offer a bit of extra help to those of you who are in the job market. I can give three hours of time for two hundred dollars, less then half of my standard rate, to five scholars who could use the support. 

How can you use your time?

1) Explore (via Google hangout video chat) your job hunting approach, and what "type" of universities/departments are good fits for who you wish to be (not your advisor, but YOU)
2) Mock phone or live interviews. Drilling responses and getting feedback from someone you trust is really helpful.
3) CV/Cover letter work. Most people don't get good advice on cover letters, and these are key.
4) Discuss career goals and aspirations.
5) And yes, we can talk about writing and publishing too.

This is good for the first five who email me, and must be used between now and January 7th.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Writing on a Saturday Morning

I slept in a bit today, which means, my dogs let me sleep in past 7am. I fed them, made my daily oatmeal, and let them outside. I brew a cup of tea, and then, sit down to write. A productive forty five minute session- some focused free writing an in introductory chapter of an edited book I am working on, some analytical writing on an autoethnography, and then some administrative writing on something else.

Its just another day. In my chair, my dogs, words, sentences. I show up, I do my thing. Book and articles move forward.

Soon, I will have a client call, will workout with my kiddo, and do some grading. I may write more, and tonight,  I going out with a friend.

Day after day, year after year, we live and perform the life we construct for ourselves.

Writing, on a Saturday morning. Life is good.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Writing Productivity Plan

What, you don't have one? Maybe it is time to create it! A writing productivity plan is a short document that you look at every few days to make sure you are engaging in the steps and processes that you are commit to. Notice, it is about the actual processes, not about your outcome goals. Staying in the process as faithfully as we can will lead to the fulfillment of your outcomes goals. If you are not meeting goals, you work on processes.  That is key.

If you don't really understand the various areas that constitute writing productivity, explore the tools explored in this blog. Pick one of the tools, and try to put it into practice for a week. Add one tool per week and soon you will have enough to create your plan.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Accepting a Few New Clients in December

For the last few months, I have had to say no to potential new clients. This is the first time I have reached my coaching practice limit, and frankly, I really have had mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, I really have been pushing a bit too hard; I am teaching an extra class this quarter so I can teach only one in the winter (and one of my favorite's, my online "Criminalization of Immigration" course, and what a poignant time to be teaching it!). I am also working on the revisions for my textbook, Navigating Human Services, and am working on a edited book on international health care social work.

However, my coaching practice is perhaps my favorite part of my career, and I miss the excitement of helping people I have not worked with before!

So, with a couple of clients successfully moving through the preliminary stages of the tenure and promotion process (does this really need to be a six month sojourn?),  and with my moving into a less demanding teaching load, I can take on a few new clients!

So, if you know someone who might wish to work with me, let them know! I am willing to give anyone a complementary call (or Google Hangout) to explore potentially working together. Do hurry though; I should book up again soon.

Friday, November 18, 2016

And Acceptance is the Answer...

In my young 20s, I attended a 12-step program for a while that focused on what has been termed "codependency." While it was helpful at a certain time of my life, it was largely not for me. I did, however, learn some valuable lessons that stuck with me.

One of those was from what is referred to as the "Big Book" of Alcoholic Anonymous, a text borrowed by that group.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
One of the
I really appreciate this perspective on acceptance. It does not mean that we do not seek to change the world, but it means that we need to understand that our own perceptions are the source of our own upset, and that a key means of self-regulation is to accepted the world, and most centrally ourselves, for what they are in this moment

If we wish to change ourselves, we must first accept ourselves, and work on radical self-acceptance as a key to our well-being. 

If we want to change the world, we must reconcile the way it is now, and not deny the nature of its existence. It also means that the world will shift and change in ways that are beyond our control, and that being at peace means learning acceptance without resignation. Again, acceptance without resignation. Struggle without being internally activated. Tough stuff.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Go with Your Energy- An Argument Against Weekly Planning

I think I am starting to become identified as being anti-planning and anti-goal setting. That is just not true. I believe goal setting and planning are essential aspects to being productive. The problem is, they are not the only tools that scholars need to consider in order to increase their productivity. As I have frequently written about, goals have little value unless you build in writing processes, procedures and rituals that lead to daily, or near daily work. Without having a clear set of processes that operationalize goals, weekly, monthly and long- term goals become the fodder for self-reproach and shame.

Another concept to consider when exploring the type of goals you set is the notion of going with your energy. Must I stop something I am excited about because I have other writing goals that I set at some point in the past? Hmmm....

Each year, my department's annual activity planning process calls us to consider what we will write and publish the following year. And each year, I basically ignore this section of our annual reports. I know that I will write each and every day. History has shown me that I can trust myself and go with my energy,; I will write and publish a good deal. If I allow myself the freedom to go with my energy, and stay in process, I will be far more productive than if I force myself to work on that which seemed more interesting the previous year.

Instead of being tied to rigid outcome goals, I go where my energy is, writing articles and books that have currency to me now. When I focus on things that matter to me, I am able to get into the zone and really be super productive, without a great deal of emotional strain. When I fight myself and try to push into a space that I am less than thrilled with, I am less productive.

Of course, this does not mean that I just willy-nilly start things and let them go. Writing takes hard work, and is not always a delight. There are times when finishing out a piece is a royal pain. When a revise and resubmit comes back, I attend to it right away, and try to get it out within two weeks (my rule). Still, I know that the degree to which I write each day, keep my head free of clutter, and use my tools and processes, I will get things done, and feel good about it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Let's Start Work Together When I Am Less Busy"

Over the last few weeks, I have received several emails from current, former or potential clients informing me that they wish to work with me, or start back working with me again.  In each case, I was given a projected date in the future for when they they will be less busy. Travel, teaching, conducting data analysis, dealing with sick relatives; these are legitimate reasons why they are not writing.

The problem is, life always happens! Not only that, but it is easy to do well when things are going smoothly, when we are on summer break, and when the universe does not present us with a crisis. But good methods of writing productivity should be designed to account for the vicissitudes of life, for our emotional ups and downs, and for the long haul. The best time to start working with me, or with another coach of any sort, is when things are hard. That is when we can see if various tools and techniques are actually working.

So, don't want until life is perfect to reach out for help. Start now! (well, if it is with me, not until December- I am still booked!!).

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Challenge of the Day: Scarcity Mindset

Many of us have internalized a scarcity mindset. For example, we look at the bare minimum that we need, and hope to get there. This can be with money, love, or writing! 

How have you internalized a mind set of scarcity? What would you need to do to move beyond it, especially with your writing and scholarship? Spend time minutes freewriting on this. Consider its impact on your life and work.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Aqui No Se Rinde Nadie

These were the first words I saw as I crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua in 1986. My once near perfect knees bent down and picked up a few pebbles by the side of the road. I rolled them in my hand, waiting for my bus, as I read the words on the billboard. Aqui, no se rinde nadie- "Nobody gives up here."  Above, the broad, almost mocking campesino face of Sandino, the hero of the Nicaraguan revolution, namesake of the Sandinistas. I spent several months traveling over land to come see the revolution. What a magical place, in spite of the war with America's proxy, the Contras, the blockade, the bombing of their harbors, the intention of the most powerful nation of the world to destroy what they built, a tiny revolution by the poor and oppressed. I spent three months in Nicaragua traveling, seeing, touching, listening. Much listening.

Remember the times. The worst days of the Cold War; nuclear war with Russia seemed, if not likely, at least a strong possibility. Tickle-down economics. Death squads. Apartheid. Marginalization. Despair.

This morning I am in my favorite cafe writing this post. I have letters to write and calls to make; friends and students are in pain and are confused. In spite of how absurd everything seems this week, I have much to do. I have dogs to love who know nothing of politics. I have a daughter with whom I will work out later, talk about her freshman year of college, about the nature of hope, hope as small acts of obligation and loyalty. I have clients who are suffering, and for whom the tenure clock will not stop.

And I have these stones, I roll around in my fingers now, thirty years later. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reccomended Posts for New Readers?

The other day, I asked someone who recently discovered my blog if there was anything he wished I would post about. He responded by asking if I had thought of a pinned post (on twitter) that had links to good places to start reading.

So, dear readers, I am going to work on an list of five or ten "essential" posts (that sounds grandiose, but you get the idea). This would serve as a good introduction to scholars, leaders and creatives who are just learning about my work. It might also serve as a place to go when in need of a little writing pick me up.

So, any ideas for which ones I should choose? Feel free to respond here, or email me!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

750 Words, An Online Tool

For your perusal, 750 words. A tool/community that uses various metrics to help you assess your daily writing. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How are you doing? How are you feeling?

There is nothing like a major life upheaval to teach you the difference between, "How are you doing?" and "How are you feeling?" Even well over a year after my divorce, I am still in touch with the many mixed and complex feelings of it all.

Today, that gulf seems especially wide. I bought a new car yesterday; the old car, sitting, ready to sell. My old car. We brought it to carry my daughter's classical bass. It did not hurt that it was easy to lift my now-ex wife's into wheelchair the back. Painful, painful times. Happy, happy times. Sigh.

Today, I am doing well. I woke up and had a great hour long writing session. I had wonderful chats with a few coaching clients. For the first time in my life, I bought a new car! I am doing well.

But today, I am also filled with grief, loss and sadness.  Letting go of that car triggered a lot for me. Painful, painful memories. Years of dreams that were lost.

Of course, over time, my new car will come to signify hope. New adventures. New dreams. My feelings will be more in line with how I am doing. What is called for on days like this is hope, trust, and patience. I will sit in my chair, dogs in lap, and have a good cry. I will let go a bit.

Tomorrow I will drive to a Punk rock show in Seattle. I will have a scotch at a cool bar beforehand. I will laugh. I may also cry again.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Existential truths, productivity and coaching, over my morning coffee :)

This morning, I came pretty close to crying during a coaching session (Google Hangout); a client has come so far!  She is such an amazing person, and I am so grateful to have been able to be a small part of her journey. 

While I don't let myself "go there" I do allow myself a bit more emotional authenticity and openness in the coaching relationship than I do in psychotherapy practice. This does not mean that I forget professional boundaries and ethics. Hardly. What it does mean is that I can practice a bit more comfortably from my general existential stance.  I utilize techniques from cognitive therapy, CBT, REBT, Narrative therapy, and other approaches, but when it comes down to it, I am an existential practitioner.

I strongly believe that one of the core tasks of living is to create personal meaning; perhaps this is more true for scholars and our work-lives than for just about any human endeavor. I have dozens of "techniques" at my disposal to help scholars write more productivity, yet when they develop a powerful, personal "mission" that they can get on board with, it is far easier for techniques to stick.

Now, back to coffee, and some and some of my own writing :)






Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One Tree, One Word, One Day

This morning, while walking my dogs (my writing coach and therapist!), I lamented that there are not more trees in my neighborhood. I carried this thought with me for about a block, until I turned the corner. In front of me, one old, thick tree covered in moss. It struck me how perfect this tree was, or this tree and its moss companion. They are moving, ever so slowly, through life just how they should.

I felt silly, lamenting the paucity of trees, with this perfect tree in front of me. And then, I noticed another tree, and yet another. The dogs did what they needed to; we returned home. I sat in my chair, wrote a bit on the introduction for an edited book I am working on. I wrote this. My home is warm. The sky is grey here in Tacoma, just how I love it, just how it is supposed to be. I am loved. I give love. I have help. I am of service. There is that tree. There is writing. There is today. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Challenge: Get Support, Give Support in Small Doses

Sometimes, we believe we have to carve out large blocks of time to get our needs meet. For example, many people believe that they have to work out for an hour at the gym to get any tangible benefits (an hour and a half total or more, considering driving time, changing, ect). Research shows us otherwise: consider the evidence-based exercise method Tabata!  An amazing workout in minutes (but oh, be in shape before you try Tabata in its pure form).

Like working out, we can give and get meaningful support in small blocks. For today's challenge, I want you to consciously seek out ten minutes of support. I also want you to intentionally give ten minutes of support.

Learning that we can meet our needs in short bursts gets was away from some of our all or nothing thinking. And yes, this applies to writing too! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Writing as something "I must do"

I have written nearly ever day for many, many years. Even when times are hectic, crazy, and unsettled, I have written. I worry less about what I write, trusting that the devotion to the craft will yield results over time.

What I with struggle now is my current commitment to this blog. I have given myself permission to not write here much during this term, but it has been such a large part of my writing life that it just does not feel good to let it sit. Thus my silly post from yesterday.

I write this not for pity or advice, but to suggest that these feelings of "must" differ greatly from the type of internalized, painful "shoulds" that I have written about before, and  most directly in my post on "musterbation."

These current musts I feel are derived from this blog being a central part of my writer's life, from commitment, obligation (not a dirty word!), and loyalty. This is the type of "must" that carries one forward, over the course of many years. I wish this for each of you.

So, from this space, I write, I offer, I post. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What An Academic Coach Can Offer


  
A nice metaphor for what an experienced academic coach can offer. Starting at 2 minutes 30 seconds. Let's just forget the last thing Roy says! :). I certainly can handle rejection from potential clients a bit better than that!



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Crazy Quarter

I am not sure if this is an explanation or complaining. Both?

This is such a busy quarter for me. Much of my work overload is caused problems of abundance, and some of it is my intentionally signing up for a third class so I can only teach one in the winter. I am not sure if I am going to do that again! I am also "at capacity" in my coaching practice, and have a waiting list for the first ti

I also have two book projects happening at the same time (actually, three but one is just peculating a bit). One is an edited book on health care social work from a global perspective (I am the global guy), and the other is a revision of Navigating Human Services, which was just "taken over" by Oxford. Excited that it is going into a forth revision.

So, patience with my blog, please. Do remember that there are over 500 posts on a variety of topics pertaining to writing, publishing and the academic life. If you Google "Write, Publish, Thrive", my name, and a topic, you are likely to find something!

So, until December, don't expect too many posts. Although, the last time I wrote this, it annoyed me and I stepped up my blogging game. We shall see!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Reflective Challenge on Goal Setting



It is widely assumed that you should have clear goals for each semester (or quarter), as well as clear weekly outcomes goals. Is this true? How well do outcome goals help? 

Today, I want you to consider the impact that semester plans and goals have had on your work and life. Do fifteen minutes of reflective writing about how goals have helped or hindered your work and life.

Here are some questions if you need some prompts. Have your goals been helpful? Do they make you more productive, or do they lead to guilt and shame that keep you stuck? Do you have a clear sense of how long tasks really take? What would it be like if you just worked on your processes, and let go of outcome goal setting?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Technical problems, judgements, and lack of production....

I just realized that my blog's spell check is misfunctionoing. When did this start? How many posts with spelling errors (more than my typical one or two :)).

Two people pointed this out to me; one a good freind; he provide the facts and that was that.

The other was a couple of days ago (I did not put two and two together until just now). A reader from twitter chided me for a blog on writing with spelling errors. Clearlly, I could not possibility have published much, with such deficits, and had nothing to say about writing.

A quick peek at her CV showed a bunch of years and not many publications. I don't mean to come across as smug here; my hunch is, however, that there is a relationship between her micro management and judgment (applied to self, I would guess), and her lack of productivity.

Does this type of perfectionism apply to you? Any lessons here for your work?

I am going to keep having fun here, and just let it rip!

At some point, I guess I have some reading to do of old blog posts. Until then, I guess we will have to consider content and forgive me (or not) for a few spelling errors :). For journal articles and books, I will rely on editors and proof readers for (near) perfection. I am not going to let this slow me down. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Practical Tips for Writing Your Dissertation: Online Workshop!

This winter I am conducing an online dissertation writing workshop sponsored by the wonderful Taos Institute! The program is open to Taos doctoral students and doctoral students from any university in the world.

http://www.taosinstitute.net/practical-tips-for-writing-your-diss-jan-15-march-10

 Last winter, we had participants across five continents from many different academic and professional disinclines . The registration link is not up yet, but I wanted to let folks know so they could contact me in case they are interested. I expect this to fill up! The price is approximate $550 for Taos students, and $650 for other doctoral students or scholars (it might be a bit less).  It is appropriate for doctoral students candidates from all fields. Whether you are working on your proposal or are struggling with writing up your final sections, you will learn tools that will help you throughout your academic career. Please email me with questions or to let me know of your interest!

I will post the registration link here when it is created, within a week or so. Below you will find additional information about the workshop.

January 15th – March 10th – 8 weeks. 

Workshop Title - Practical Tips for Writing Your Dissertation

with Rich Furman, PhD

Where: Online, virtual, both synchronous and asynchronous. 

This online workshop is designed for doctoral students to help them develop the skills needed to successfully complete a high quality dissertation. It begins with an exploration of the nature of dissertations, including an analysis of the traditional dissertation architecture and the nature of each section. It examines the nature of quality in scholarly writing, helping developing scholars engage in an examination and critique of each other’s writing. Participants will practice methods of writing productivity, using each technique to push their agenda writing forward. Finally, the workshop helps doctoral students understand the psychosocial barriers that inhibit scholars, perhaps the most important and unique aspect of this workshop.

This online workshop will be a combination of readings, videos, writing, learning partner dialogues, and online conversations. There will also be a live conference call each week. Participants should be available for the live conference calls, and have up to 6 hours a week available for the assignments and weekly dialogue partner conversations. 

Module 1- Introduction, Deconstructing the Dissertation
Module 2-The Architecture/Sections of the Dissertation
Module 3- Quality Writing and the Dissertation
Module 4Methods of Writing Productivity, Part 1
Module 5 - Methods of Writing Productivity, Part 2
Module 6 – The Psychosocial Barriers to Writing a Dissertation, Part 1
Module 7 – The Psychosocial Barriers to Writing and Dissertation, Part 2
Module 8 – Putting It All Together

To register:  http://www.taosinstitute.net/practical-tips-for-writing-your-diss-reg-form

For questions email Rich Furman richfurmanphd@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Writing Challenge: Skim an Article, Write

Pick a section of your article that needs some literature added to it. Find an article. Set your timer for three minutes. Skim until timer goes off. Return to artcle. Write. Repeat.

It works.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Decisions decisions

I have a tough decision to make. Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles is now ready for a revision. The problem is, I really want to totally rewrite the book. I mean, from the ground up, start over, and pretty much double its size. I have learned a lot about writing and publishing from my coaching practice over the last several years, and have a lot more I want to share!

So, what I really want to do is not a revision: its a new book. Do I do a quick revision of Practical Tips and then begin writing on a new book after? Do I just start the new book now?

The problem is complicated by my old publisher, Lyceum Books, having been sold to Oxford University Press. If a buyout was going to happen, this was the perfect one. I published my first book with Oxford last year, and had been working on another when the buyout happened. So, now 7 of my books current books (I think??) are now with Oxford; its cool, but the landscape has changed. 

Now, when I say complicated, the complexity comes not from any intrusiveness from the publisher. In fact, it is just the opposite. They are open to my going in either direction. The complexity comes from my own thinking about it, and my daily back and forth ruminations.

So, what to do, what to do.

If any of you have read Practical Tips before, and have an opinion, do let me know!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The problem about the problem

I had a recent conversation with an increinbly smart, highly accomplished scholar who is a in a bit of a writing rut(undertatment). Not only is she stuck, but she is ashamed about being stuck. This secondary response, the feeling about the problem, is often the first thing needs to be worked on prior to (or at the same time) resolving the identified problem.

This is often why simply reading a book on writing productivity or following simple, clear advice does not work. The ideas may be valid, but other "stuff" is stopping you from implementing the good ideas. The self judgments that can arise from this can become an endless loop of shame, guilt and remorse, if not reslolved.

If you have one of these "prolbems about the problem," and are not able to resolve it on your own, you own it to yourself to find a way of working through it with some support or help.

Therapist or coach? Here is a post to help you decide.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Challenge: The Five Minute Sneak

Can't do much in five minutes huh? During your next writing session, identify one or two areas that you need to fill out a bit. Nothing highly technical.

Now, at one point during the day, when you have a free five minutes, pick one of those tasks and write.

How much did you write? Multiple that by, say, 20 for the month. How many words was that?

It adds up.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A list of personal strengths

Sometimes, a random web search turns up something useful. Here is a list of personal strengths that I really like. To grow and make changes in life, we need to not change that which is problematic, but to maximize what we do well. Check out this simple list. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Oh no, here I go again!"

The academic year started. After a good summer of writing (or perhaps a not so good summer), you promise yourself you are going to engage in daily (or near daily) writing. You have listened to the many experts, and know that all you have to do is a half hour of writing per day. You tell yourself, you can do this. It is easy.

For a week, it goes well, And then, something happens. A day of committee meetings. Finding an article that feels too similar to the one you are writing. The realization that you are "behind". Comparisons to others. Ect.

And then.......

Knowledge is only half the battle. To really implement a writing ritual, you have to work on YOU. You must find a way of addressing your personal constellation of blocks and barriers, and learn how to work on each while you continue to maximize your strengths.

A place to start; read my posts from last summer, that I wrote to help you navigate these issues. I call last summer "psychosocial summer"- for those who feel stuck, and just can't make the changes they need that feel really simple. Simple yes, easy, no. Not easy at all.


Friday, August 26, 2016

What a Difference A Year Makes

Its been a while since I have written a personal post, updating my readers about my life. If you are a new reader,  I was divorced rather unexpectedly a year ago. The timing sucked (if indeed the timing of a shocking abandonment can ever be good!), as it coincided with my 50th B day and the start of my empty next syndrome.

So, a year later, how am I doing?

Rather fantastic, really. I am in a new relationship that is pretty amazing. Never have I felt so heard, valued, understood, and respected. After a year away, my baby is back home, about to start college where I teach, UW Tacoma. My coaching practice has been wonderful. I am pretty much booked up at this point (get on the waiting list, if your interested in working with me ;), and I am fortunate to be working with some really amazing scholars. Its too much fun.

Still working out 4-6 times a week. Learning to play the ukulele. Still working back toward being as engaged in teaching as I once was; not uncommon for mid-career faculty. Rewriting Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles, and doing the revision of my text book that actually sells, Navigating Human Services.

I still feel shock, loss, and grief at times. I am still sad at the loss of my sense of forever family. I still feel mistreated, abandoned, and thrown away, at times. I am working through it. I am solid!

Loss is a process. Life is a process. Writing is a process.  I am working on embracing all three (the later I am good at, the other two, training wheels! )- staying in the moment, moving forward, trusting. Living. Loving. Writing.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Challenge: The Start of the Academic Year

Ok, summer is over (for all of you in the semester system :)). Now that you are back, consider what you need to do to in order to be successful over the next few months. Consider the promises you always make to yourself; do they work? Are they realistic? Do you have the skills and tools to get to where you want to go?

A few thoughts to help you slowly start your year. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sorry for the Slow July

Only a few blog posts in July; a lot on my summer plate. I hope I am more helpful to my readers in August. Don't forgot to look for old posts on writing/publishing problems you are having, and if you can't find one, let me know! I will write about it- at some point :).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Radical Acceptance

A simple principle of change is that you have to accept something as being true before you are willing to work to change it. This seemingly simple truism is essential for scholars learn, and is often a prerequisite to total self acceptance. Without truly coming to terms with the relationship between acceptance and transformation, it is hard for scholars to give up constantly critiquing and judging every move they make (especially with their writing!). 

Many clients that I have worked with struggle with the notion of self acceptance, or radical self acceptance as I think of it, as they worry that adopting such a perspective will lead to mediocrity. They worry that if they accept themslves and their current skill-set as it currently is, that they will subsequent become resigned to their current "state" and will slip into complacency.

However, as I began this post, accepting yourself totally as being the way you are supposed to be in this moment actually creates the possibility of change. If you accept a truth about yourself, and really allow yourself to feel it without being overwhelmed by it, its far easier to face. I know this feel uncomfortable, but its very, very true.

Radial acceptance. Total acceptance. As a way of moving forward. As a way of being. As a path to growth.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Happy Monday!

Nothing of deep import is on my mind, so lets just write! Writing is a method of inquiry, and leads to the creation of that which is new.

My online article writing workshop starts in a week. If you are hoping to be more productive, I hope you join us. I also include two free hours of coaching along with it. I am excited about starting; this is the first time I have conducted this workshop in a four week, online version. It is a good deal of the material that I teach in my two day live workshops, but of course, there are pros and cons to both. I like the possibility of longitudinally being able to digest and practice skills; and opportunities for more sustained engagement. Still, it is new, so much to work on.

Things are good with me. My baby (almost 19!) is now living back in Tacoma. She starts her first year of college after a wonderful gap year in the Alps; what an amazing person she has become (always was, but....). I am thrilled that she is going to school at UWT, so I will get to hang out with her on campus. That is almost a bucket list item that I have not dared to put on my list; it is her life, her dreams. I am now a witness. Writing this, tears start welling in my eyes (surprise to nobody who knows me); I am in my favorite coffeehouse, so enough with this.

A bit of writing on two book revisions. Online teaching. The gym. Life is simple. Life is good.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

20 Reasons Why I Love Coaching

1) I get to work with amazing people
2) I get to be a small part of amazing people living their dreams
3) I get to be a small part of amazing people doing amazing work
4) I get to help people resolve blocks that change not only their careers, but their lives
5) I get to work with amazing people
6) I get to maximize my strengths as a therapist, scholar, academic, bratty-trickster
7) I get to help others maximize their strengths
8) I get to become useless to people as they resolve their "stuff" and become who they wish to be
9) I am really good at what I do, so I get to feel a sense of self efficacy
10) I get to work with amazing people
11) I get to challenge myths about writing and publishing that don't serve most scholars well
12) I get to help people make little fixes that lead to big changes
13) I get to actualize my social work values
14) I have a blast! I laugh. I have fun!
15) I get to work with amazing people
16) I get to live my core value of Tikkun Olam
17) I get to challenge my skills, and develop who I am
18) I get to develop and test new ideas; I am always challenged to learn
19) I am gifted and honored with people trusting me with their most vulnerable selves
20) Did I mention I get to work with amazing people?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy 5th of July

You took the holidays off. Good for you! Now, comes the task of reentering your work. It can feel nearly impossible, at times, having to push back into a space that feels uninviting, annoying, and unnatural. This is the problem with too many days off. 

To get you back in, I want you to think of two places in your primary writing project that still need attention, preferably something you can do without too much preparation. 

Now, assign heads to one, and tails to the other. Flip coin. Enter work, and see if you can even write 50 words. If you want to stop after fifty, that is up to you. Once you do that, you have at least broken the seal. Your in.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Accepting your gifts, and trusting

Some thoughts on self acceptance today; I am going to be real about a struggle I am having. For well over three decades, I have used writing as a way of understanding myself, of learning things about my lived experience of myself that I would not otherwise have. Maybe once I process what I wish to explore, I will find a way of bending it back to the issues I address in this blog. If not, so be it.

This summer I am set to do a couple of grant reviews for federal agencies. I have been a federal grant reviewer since 2004. The truth is, I am sick of doing them.

Taking grant reviews is very practical. I can get them. I am signed up for doing a couple. Yet, they do take a lot of time, but sure money is good when you have a kid entering college. If I take them, however, I may have to say no to potential coaching clients, and that is work that I love.

It comes down to how much I trust in myself, trust the worth of what I offer to others, and that somehow things will work out. Trust in myself, or in some general "goodness" of the universe that I am not always in touch with? Not easy.

So, what would I reflect back to someone else who presented this scenario?

I would probably reflect that I wonder what would happen if you gave yourself to that which you are passionate about, and for which you have gifts. Would you not be more likely to be successful in the long term? Could you not use your energy that would go to grant reviews in a way that would be of service to others, while working on trusting that all will be ok?

This resonates as very true for me, yet, it is scary to let go, trust, and just put my best self out there in the world and let the chips fall as they may.

I don't think I need to consciously bend this back to any lesson on writing or publishing. I will trust you to do that work. Trust in myself. Trust in others. Say no to grant reviews. It has been decided.


Monday, June 27, 2016

I am not a good scholar, I am not a bad scholar

The old Al Frankin/ Stuart Smalley skit. "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

You feel bad about yourself in some fundamental way. You judge your writing, your teaching, some essential aspects of your personality, or how productive you have (or have not) been.

The SNL skit parodies a frequently prescribed intervention for such thinking: positive affirmations.

And while positive affirmations are certainly better than negative self-appraisals, they are problematic in that the cognitive habit of rating oneself will perpetuate itself as an option: if you can rate yourself as excellent, good, or good enough, you can rate yourself as horrible, awful, and worthless.

The solution is learning to refuse to rate your essential worth. This is often hard for scholars; we have learned, during a lifetime spent in schools, to rate and evaluate everything we do, to compare ourselves to others at all times, in all ways.

"So, Rich, let me understand this," you say as you squirm in your chair (yes, setting up my own strawman fallacy here, bare with me).

"How am I going to improve as a writer and publish more if I accept myself myself totally," you challenge.

I am glad you asked :).

Engaging in radical self-acceptance does not mean that we don't work to improve, or develop our skills. When we learn to not rate ourselves, we tend to be less defensive about improving ourselves and improving our work. We learn to accept our flaws without feeling flawed.

If we develop a philosophy of total self acceptance, we can also more effectively stay in process and work on our craft as fully as we can. Since my work having flaws and not being perfect is just a part of life, and not suggestive of my worth, I can improve and grow without feeling bad about what I have yet to achieve. 

As one of my clients says, crazy talk Rich. This is crazy talk.

For the next few posts, I am going to explore this notion radical self acceptance in a bit more depth. It is really, really important.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Poetic Structures and Forms In Qualitative Research

Ever hit a random milestone that really means nothing for the quality of your life, but you are kind of tickled by it anyhow? Well, that is how I feel about my article, Poetic Structures and Forms in Qualitative Health Research,  now having been cited 100 times. Something about a triple digit citation count for some of my work that sometimes gets people raising a perplexed eyebrow or looking blankly at me while saying, in a somewhat disingenuous and surprised tone,  "that's cool."

Of course, nothing in my life has changed. I am not a better person/scholar because of it, but that said, I am not less of a person/scholar for not having been cited more frequently.

Hmmm. An idea for one of my next posts.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Five Accountability Methods

A simple list. Five tools, four of which I have explored before, with links to previous discussions. Summer is a good time to consider the role of accountability in your writing plans; you don't want to let it get away from you. I have plans for next week's posts, but perhaps I will explore each of these again soon.

1) Interactive accountability spreadsheet

2) Daily check ins 

3) Reward and consequences (huh, a search of my posts reveals nothing. I have work to do!!)

4) Intensive interaction and trickery

5) A demanding coach, one who you may "fear" a bit 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lawyer Wednesday: Great article on peer review and legal publishing

Here is a great article that explains peer-review and legal publishing in simple, jargon free way. It is a nice resource for lawyers and other non-academic professionals.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Written bunnies!!

Yesterday, I should have noted that in addition to the kitten and puppy options, you can reward yourself with cute bunny pictures too! Options, are good!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Written Puppies!!!??!!

I discovered something extremely important a few days ago.  The accountability tool,  Written Kitten has a puppy option! I now can write 100 words and be rewarded with a puppy image. I love puppies!

If you are struggling with daily writing, this is a simple reward mechanism you may want to try. I know, its simple, unsophisticated, and campy, but I know people that this has worked for.

And you can see cute puppies!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Flash nonfiction for father's day


For father's day I thought I would share one of the flash nonfiction shorts that I started a few years ago. I have finished about twenty of these over the last year. I just love writing them, painful that they may be. May this day be filled with joy and hope. Fathers, sons and daughters, this day is for you- may this stimulate reflection today.
Dead Friends
Reading Mark Doty’s Dog Years, I realize that some things I will never be able to write about without sounding like a sentimental, driveling, emotionally stunted idiot. Take my dead friends; they deserve the shrine of ink; I know I have, and will, fail them. Even now, writing about writing about them, I am stunted. I am nine years old, I have been punished by my father for hitting my sister; I did not hit my sister.
I look into the center of things, try positive thinking; of course you can, you are good enough, smart enough. Pass the sugar plum fairy a desert grown fig. Ok, take two. Focus on the image. Let the narrative do the work. Show, don’t tell. I play with the buttons on the toolbars. I listen to songs on YouTube from the years they died.
Gil, for instance, died in 2005 of cancer. I don’t even know the type. The image the doctors gave us was this: go inside his lungs, hurl around a bag of rice like you are playing pick-up sticks, watch it scatter. The rice were tumors, course. That is what the physician said- the grains of rice were tumors, of course. Gil died in 2005. That year was a musical wasteland; it was milk toast post-punk and Kelly Clarkson. I am sorry for that Gil.
Greg Bershad died in 1992, I think. Things were a bit better, minus the boy bands; you had Nirvana and The Beasty Boys. I did not even hear about Greg’s’ death until months later.  His number discontented, no surprise from the brilliant artist turned part time junky; I sent a postcard with my number. His mom called: thank God you wrote Rich, you’re the last one who did not know. He died with a needle in his arm.
It is 2011. I sit in my writing chair. My wife is cutting my daughter’s bangs. She must be sitting- she spent too much time out of her wheelchair today- there is no way she could be standing anymore. Tonight is our second snow of winter. When it snows in Tacoma, it destroys the rhythm of the machine.
I try to count the spokes of her wheelchair staring at me from the shadows. I think there are seven, but I keep forgetting from where I started. This happens to me often.
I digress. I digress so I do not fail. I have failed. I will fail. The snow mixes with rain now, three am; everyone turned into unconsciousness. What is sleep? The wasting of life? The rehearsal for eternity? A simulation of that void I so desperately wish to forget?
I search the web for their names. They died long before the craze. They never knew Facebook. Greg never even had an email address. There is one reference to Gil, an obituary: He lived in Chico and worked in organic gardening.  This is all that is left.
I knew I would fail. I walk into my daughter’s room. She breathes just like her mother. I knew I would fail. I sit in the corner, listen to her cacophony. It is all I will ever have.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Writing challenge: Write in your closet

Huh?

You heard me. Today, I want you to take your laptop (if you have one, otherwise, paper) into your closet. You can turn on a light, but I want you to write for a half hour on your primary writing project, in your closet.

Why in the world would I do this to you?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Training this Week, Sorry!

In a training all week, so behind on my posts. Will write one for manana!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Danger of Outcome Goals

Within a week or so of each other, two posts using such dramatic words: Danger and Peril.

OOOOHHHHH.

There are several systems of faculty support and accountability that, from my experience, rely far too heavily on outcomes goals. From my experience  focusing too much attention on outcomes goals and not enough on the daily processes of ones work life can create a profound mismatch between behavior and expectations, between goals and the means of achieving goals.

I really have no idea how long it is going to take me to write an article, or a section of an article. However, if I stay in the process and move it forward each and over day, using all of the tools at my disposal to insure maximum productivity, when an article gets done does not really matter. Saying that I one is going to do X amount of an article or do a section by X date often leads scholars to feel shame and demoralization if and when they don't meet that goal. Once they feel ashamed, they tend to retreat from the painful feeling and neglect their work until they recommit to a set of goals that, again, are divorced from the processes of daily work.

If you resonate with this, consider your daily processes and staying in the moment with your work. Paradoxically, it leads to far better outcomes.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Writing challenge: Ten Minute Busts

Your job today- write on your primary writing project for five, ten minute bursts.

Ten minutes, step away. Return. Five times. Go!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Give me two sentences, now!

Ok, here is quick challenge. As soon as you safely can, write two sentences on your primary writing. Just do it. No thinking, no explaining. Just do it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Writing Challenge for Lawyers

Simple challenge today. Spend five minutes writing from the following prompt. Don't think, just write.

I have a hard time writing when_______________.

After you have done this, leave it for a day. Come back to it. What do you need to do?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Challenge: Write When You Would Have Wasted....

A simple challenge today. Catch yourself about to waste time on an activity that does not nurture your life,  and write for 15 minutes instead. Write with no expectations; no internal demands. Just write. Feel good after for having done something meaningful for your life.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Martch to Full: Admin Positions and the Associate Professor

Academic administration for many is a form of service. Yes, for some people it is a calling, but for many of us, it is a role that we often step into (and out of) in order to be of service to our universities and/or professions.


This may be especially true for faculty in the professional disciplines, some of whom have administrative practice experience while working "in the field." This was true for me as a social worker, and is equally true for nursing, teacher ed, public health, business and many other scholars from the practice world.


For us, practice and service feels "natural." For many faculty in professional disciplines, the role of scholar is one that feels less than natural, less than normal, and is one in which people often did not get enough practical training for success. Academic writing can be challenging to many, and for some, downright painful. Too few scholars in all disciplines, but perhaps especially in the professional fields, receive training in writing productivity, process goal setting, and learn how to develop rituals to sustain them over the long haul. Too often, once the threat of tenure no longer looms, and one steps into an administrative position, writing is the first thing that goes.


This creates multiple dilemmas for associate professors, even those who wish to stay in administrative positions. Faculty and other administrators are frequently ambivalent about associate professors moving up the academic hierarchy (or staying in their positions), for some troubling reasons, but for some important practical and philosophical ones as well.


So, what this means, is that YOU, associate professor department chair/division head/ associate dean, ect, need to work on a scholarly plan which includes your developing the requisite skills for scholarly success. What it also means is that you need to make a decision to create some space, mental, metaphorical, and temporal, for dedication to your writing and scholarship.


If you are an associate professor/administrator and have not written for a while, try to do some freewriting on the following questions..


1) What do I truly wish to write about, if I were motivated to to do so?


2) What skills do I lack to be successful as a scholar?


3) What are my personal blocks and barriers to reentering writing?


4) What help and supports do I need?


Notice, I do not address the issue of time. I will address that in other post.

Unfortunately, there are no magic, easy answers here. You are going to have to slog through some rust and develop a new way of working. Mostly, however, you just need to start writing. And if you do the above, perhaps, it can serve as a start.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Writing Challenge: Moving Between The Modes of Writing

For this challenge, I want you to open your primary writing project. Randomly pick five places that still need work. Write one sentence in each area, and walk away from your computer. Pet the dog(s), wash the dishes, kiss your lover, hug your kids, or take a walk.  Whatever. Just, get your mind off of what you wrote for about a half hour, and get away from technology.

Now, go back to each sentence. Read it, turn off your mind, and write. Do not think, do.

After this, go to a few articles. Skim. Add more words and massage each section, conceptually. No editing.

What is this process? Freewrite. Literature. Analytical writing. Rinse. Repeat. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The March Toward Full: Your Issues and Questions

I am committed to writing a series of useful posts (hopefully useful, but posts nonetheless) for associate professors interested in going up for promotion to full professor. I really want to hear what your issues are, and have you provide me with some discussion points or questions.

So, bring em'. Feel free to post them here or email me!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Teaching and Pedagogy Articles and Journals

One of the biggest mistakes young scholars make is  to conflating "study" with "article." They believe that for every article they want to write, they must conduct a separate study and have new data. Clearly, one of the solutions to this is to consider the "story (ies)" that  your data tell, and consider the various stories it could tell. However, another solution is to consider the impact of your work on policy, theory, the issues of the day, and even teaching.

Most academics teach. It is why many of us entered doctoral programs, even many of us for whom scholarship is our primary focus. Still we teach, and writing for teaching and pedagogically oriented journals is a great way to both deepen our teaching, and publish. Of course, not every university or department values teaching focused articles, but they are valued by many.

Use that sophisticated academic research tool "google" and search for teaching journals. Use the key words: Journal of _________, Teaching and _________, Higher education and _______. In the blank, start with the broadest area of your "field" (i.e. science, humanities, ect), and keep narrowing your search until you find several journals. Look at their scope and aim. Peruse a few table on contends. Check out a few abstracts. See if you come up with some ideas for your own work.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Peril of Overwriting

I frequently write about the importance of freewriting and writing as a method of inquiry. This may lead to the impression that I believe in a free for all approach to article writing,  in which you write as much as you can and then find a way of cutting.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a huge proponent of developing structures and disincline for articles in which you work your tail off to not cut. Freewriting in its purest form should not be done in an article, but as side work to stimulate thinking and draw connections between ideas.

Focused freewriting, for maximum efficiently, comes within the context of a clear structure and predetermined word length for each section of your article.

Two tools that I do not write much about (I don't want to give away ALL of my secrets away on this blog, after all), are how to develop powerful architectures that carry specific section lengths, and how to use various modes of writing when working on articles.

That said, endeavor to not overwrite. My experience is that most people overestimate their skill at cutting their work, if we are to look at their actual outcomes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lawyer Wednesday: The Internal Critic

From my experience, some attorneys have profoundly vicious and deeply internalized critical voices. In law school, your work is shot down, often harshly; you need to develop thick skin for the professional world, you are told. Some of you work in environments characterized by a state of discord at best, and outright hostility at worst. Under such conditions, it is normal to internalize these self-downing views of your work, often just outside of awareness, as you try to be tough and become impervious to them. Not so easy: it is normal (although not helpful) that some of these internal voices profoundly impact your ability to write efficiently.

In this blog, I have written a good deal about methods and techniques for reprogramming self-downing congnitions. Check out the posts starting here!

But before you start challenging these beliefs, you have to begin identifying them. This may entail a bit of self-reflection which may feel new, or may to some seem like a waste of valuable time. However, this is one of the best ways of beginning the process of quieting your internal critic, which is one of the most central aspects of what is referred to in the popular literature as "writer's block" (which really is a complex constellation of several psychosocial barriers).

Make a log of what you are telling yourself and what you believe about your writing, and about yourself while writing. If you are not in touch with these thoughts, ask yourself what you MIGHT be thinking. These are usually pretty accurate.

Identifying them is the first step. Check out the tools I wrote about last summer for some ideas on how to begin contending with your internal critic.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The March Toward Full: Shame

I should have made "full" long ago!

I can't believe I can't get writing!

I have no original ideas?

My field has passed me by!

It would be awful to admit that I need help with my writing at this point of my career!

These are but a few of the shame-based/shame-inducing things that I have heard from associate professors who feel stuck. Those whose careers have not progressed the way they had hoped often feel ashamed and demoralized. They have let themselves, and their colleagues, down.

In response they pour themselves into extra service, hoping that this  good citizenship provides evidence to themselves and other that they are worthy. Sadly, this overcompensation can perpetuate a vicious cycle of taking on tasks and roles that are less fulfilling, and make it hard to move toward the type of work that some wish to do.

Others feel ashamed that they are not writing and publishing, but really don't wish to write and publish much. They also do a good deal of service, but they like their service, and feel this is really where they wish to put their energy. Sadly, they still judge themselves, and find themselves progressively unhappy, often thinking about leaving higher education.

Both "types" suffer from the internalization of standards and expectations that keep them from feeling good about their careers. Both need some help to sort out the painful, self-downing messages that keep them stuck. Sadly, they also may have internalized the individualistic ideal of the academe-I must do this alone.

Getting over such shame-based messages means you are going to have to open up to someone about them, to process them, and to engage in some reprogramming. With whom you do this work, and how you do it, is up to you, but you owe it to yourself to do it!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Challenge: Develop an Article Purpose Statement on Teaching

The most important sentence of an article is the purpose statement. The propose statement (which differs greatly from the notion of thesis statement, as I have explored in the past), is what you use to guide all the decisions you make when developing the architecture of your article.

Young scholars are often stuck without ideas to write about if they "don't have data." Yet, as I have explored, many, many articles are not data driven.

Try this exercise. Develop an article purpose statement based upon one of these two "shells." Fill in the blanks with a few possibilities; play with it.


Using _______ (teaching strategy, teaching method or approach) for working with first generation college students (feel free to replace the “type" of student here that you wish to target)

Engaging students with____________: Implications for _________ instructors 

Don't think these are publishable? Ha! Check in on Friday when I explore teaching and pedagogy related journals.