Monday, January 25, 2016

Engaging struggling colleagues: Normalizing

One of the most important things we can do to help colleagues who are struggling with the writing and publishing process is to help them normalize their struggles. By normalizing, I mean encouraging them to understand that each and every one of us has areas to improve and skills that we need to learn, and that struggling is part of the process of learning to write and publish.

Indeed, nobody really learns all of the skills and tools in graduate school that we need to succeed in this work. Many of us also have old baggage that we need to overcome.  Still, many come to believe that somehow they should already have mastered writing and publishing, and that somehow there is something wrong with them, something deficient, something broken (in the extreme). At the least, many of us carry a bit of impostor syndrome with us, hoping upon hope that we will not be discovered.

Some colleagues, friends and clients have erroneously assumed that writing has always been easy and satisfying for me; it has not. As I explore in this old post, there was a time when writing was the source of a good deal of pain and shame.

Sharing your own struggles with writing and publishing, no matter how accomplished you are, can help encourage normalization. Approach your struggling colleagues with empathy, warmth, and understanding. Help normalize the struggle for them. When experiences are normalize for us we can slowly let go of the shame that we often feel about not being "accomplished" enough.

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