Monday, December 18, 2017

Want to, have to?

Consider a piece of scholarship that you want to work on, not one that you have to work on. What would it mean to work on this now, in a manner that does not increase your stress, but instead feels life-enhancing?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Everyone Has an Opinion, But....

Every once in a while, I have to stop following someone on twitter. It does not happen often and is never for posts about political opinions or disciplinary differences that I do not care for, or other such disagreements. I try to allow space for such the diversity of ideas.

Yet, when I read scholars pontificating about writing or writing productivity, in an authoritative tone seeming to imply expertise about such, and when they clearly have written very little,  I just have to disengage.

There is a huge recycling of myths about the scholarly writing process that I find a wee bit offensive. Also, when someone tries to position themslves an expert on psychosocial barriers that blocks scholars in their writing, but they really have not worked through such things themselves, and are not trained in helping people change, I just lose patience.

I do not mean to sound snippy or snide, or like a know-it-all.  For twenty years, I have viewed myself as student of what it means to write and publish- I still have much to learn.  Heck, that is why I am studying for an MFA in Nonfiction at the age of fifty-two!

However, I have learned a few things from my years of writing and publishing, and from working intensively with other scholars as a mentor or coach.Yet, I am also not one to "suffer fools lightly." As such, it is best for me to just "step off" at times.

The lesson here, to the degree that I have one, is watch the advice you are taking.  Make sure you critically evaluate where advice comes from, and the impact that preforming  such advice has had on scholars, over time. Over a long period of time. The goal is to develop sustainable practices.

And this post I end, with....


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reflective Colleague Assessment Tool

Many years ago, I started working on a reflective self-assessment tool designed to explore male friendships. Today, a client and I were discussion the importance of relationships in her life, and I thought of that work I had started many years ago. After taking a quick look at an old brainstorming document, I realized this might be a valuable aid toward helping academic assess the quality of their colleague relationships. I present this to you as a crude, undeveloped, certainly untested instrument that you may wish to consider as an exercise. It is a reflective tool, designed to help you consider who supports you, and who you support. Use the scale subjectively, and only as means of initial assessment and tracking, should you wish to engage in some work based upon your reflections.

Reflective Colleague Assessment

1)      List all the colleagues you currently have in your life.
2)      List the colleagues who are important to you, but are not currently part of your life.
3)      Rank the colleagues according to the categories listed below.
4)      Note which colleagues you will like to move from one category to another.
5)      Brainstorm what you might need to do to move a colleague to another category.
6)      What actions can you take to make this happen?
7)      What barriers and blocks might get in your way (internal and external)?
8)      What actions will you now committee to doing?
9)      Spend some time reflecting on this process.


Below Average


Monday, December 4, 2017

Deconstructing Writing Myths

I hear and read many people explore their writing and their writing processes. Some of the ideas that people hold are helpful and true, and facilitate productive writing. Yet, so much of what scholars and writers believe about writing is based upon myths and passed-down lore and idioms that do not serve us well.

When I am with a client, it is part of my job to nudge them to explore their erroneous beliefs about writing (and themselves as writers and scholars). However, when I encounter such ideas on social media? Sometimes I engage, and sometimes, I need to bite my tongue (or, fingers, more accurately).

But this blog, is my space- I don't need to self-censure (at least not a great deal!!). Check back for posts deconstructing some of the writing and publishing myths that people live and perform. I have explored some in the past, but perhaps never this intentionally. Be prepared to have some of your cherished ideas challenged!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Challenge: One Task, Ten Minutes

For today's challenge, I want you to pick one task and "attack" it for ten minutes. By task, I want you to be as specific as possible. For example, "write 100 words on X in the introduction section of X article" or " write about x finding in the discussion section of my primary article, X number of words for that section."

The more specific "marching orders" we give ourselves, the less likely we are to get stuck during our writing blocks.

Its an important tool, one of many, of course, toward writing productivity. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Rich's Knees, Writing, and Life

I have made so many wonderful connections over the years through my blog.  I now like to keep you all updated on my "personal life."

Since I started my blog in 2012, I have been through a whole lot of life! Recovering from my now ex-wife's disability. Buying what I call my forever home. Sabbatical. Divorce. My turning 50! My "baby moving" out. My new lover and her children moving in. The start of my own MFA journey.  My coaching practice becoming an increasingly important part of my life and identity. My slipping slowly, and then not so slowly, into disability. I don't walk well anymore- I have to use a cane when I stand for any length of time.

So, now? A new phase of my adventure! I am getting two new knees! On January 5th, I will undergo a double knee replacement. Getting to this point has been emotional, scary, painful. But now, I am ready!! I am ready to walk well again. I am ready to explore the world again. I am ready for High Intensity Interval Training again, cycling, hiking.  I want to dance in Ibiza! I want to scale a volcano again. I just want my body to feel like mine, again. I am so very, very ready. Keep me in your thoughts during those couple of weeks after. But.....I'll Be Back 

And if you need me, if I can help, reach out! I might need that, emotionally, more than you do :)

Monday, November 27, 2017

End of Term Reflection

Too often, when scholars look back upon their academic terms, they only reflect upon their goals. It is more important to explore and deconstruct your processes; optimizing your working habits and tools is what will help you meet your long term goals. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

1) Is my writing ritual working for me?
2) What thoughts and beliefs continue to impede my work?
3) Am I wasting time on tasks that do not fulfill me and don't help me?
4) What changes do I need to make?
5) Who can help me make these changes?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cool Podcasts on Writing has really great podcasts on writing. While the content is mostly for creative writers, there are some valuable recordings that can be inspiring and helpful to scholars.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Writing, With A View

I am at a wonderful coffeehouse in a small town about an hour from Tacoma. My view is a small, calm bay overlooking hills, dotted with trees holding onto the last shades of fall. I am working on an essay. I will stop now to do some grading. I breath, look out over the water. Life is good.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Words from Albert Einstein

While perhaps not the most sensitive of quotes, I believe he might have been speaking, if only a wee bit, to us.

Related image

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A writing day with a freind

Drove up to Bothell, an hour north of Tacoma. Meeting a friend for a writing day in a warm coffeehouse with a fire. There will be writing, chats about writing, more writing, lunch, more writing.

No expectations for outcomes. Will stay in process. Use all my tools. Stay present to myself and my work.

Life is good.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Your Technology Should Meet Your Needs

When assessing your technology use, and its impact on your work/personal life, an important question, is your technology meeting your needs, or are you meeting the "needs" of your technology? Are you considering if your technology use is improving your life, your productivity, your relationships? Does it lead to greater writing productivity? Does it improve your writing? What are the costs and benefits?

It is easy to fetishize the new, the cool and the advanced, but its essential that you critically explore  their impact on your life, your work, your writing and your relationships.

Some self-reflection would serve you well. Take 15 minutes and do a freewrite about this issues.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Favor for Coach Rich, Important

One of our own, an academic in need, needs some help with medical bills. Life has hit her hard So, here is the deal. If I have ever helped you with my blog, have given you any pro bono advice, or if you have valued my coaching, I want you to step up and give $20 to Deanna Laurette. She is a PhD candidate, writing teacher, self identified Latinx, disabilities advocate, and really could use a bit of help. Here is her Go Fund Me Page. 

I challenge my readers here to ask themslves, have I gotten $20 worth from reading Rich's blog? If so, please, make your contribution today.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

I Do Not Text

When people tell me they will send me a text, I inform them I don't use that tool, and will not read or respond to them.  I just don't. Ever. Never. Yes, I seem as if I am from an other planet in such moments.

I do not wish to engage the world in that manner. If someone needs me immediately, they can call. However, I am not willing to be on call to 24/7, and text messaging connects us in ways that are far, far to intrusive for my tastes.  If you wish to write to me, send me an email, which encourages at least a moment of thought and reflection

Consider how quickly you respond when you hear your text messaging "go off." How often does it break your concentration, and thus make you work longer and harder? Is it helping you meet your personal and professional goals?

Choose what technologies you use carefully. Own them, or they will own you. Clients who carefully consider their technology use find small changes and be transformative. Simple changes can lead to huge gains in writing, work, and productivity with little loss.

That said, the actual nature of the tools we use define how we use them. Many technologies are designed to be addictive.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

What would happen......

If you did not check your work email, or long onto social media, until after lunch?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Smartphone Dystopia

Don't believe me--lowly social work professor--about the dangers of smartphones and other technologies that you use on a daily basis? No worries, how about the inventors and innovators who design these tools, once evangelists of their emancipatory qualities, and now, some of their most ardent critics?

Read this article by Paul Lewis, Our Minds Can be Hijacked: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia.  Hopefully, it strikes a bit of fear in you, or at least trepidation, about technologies that are deigned based-upon the latest research in biobehavioral psychology. This is a good place to explore the role that technology plays, and can play,  in the lives of writers and scholars.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Technology and Writing

Over the least couple of years, I have become increasingly aware of how important it is to help scholars figure out how their technology serves them, and how they serve their technology. I am going to write a few posts in the coming weeks about this work, and hopefully provide scholars some food-for-thought that might help their writing productivity, and enhance the quality of their lives.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I Love Teaching Freshman

I love teaching freshman. I just do. Yesterday, was the start of our quarter here @UWT, and for about 25 of my 35 students in Introduction to Social Work, I was their professor of their first college class. How cool is that!? While they may forget my name, they will never forget this day (or at least not for a long time!).

So, what tone did I try to set? That education is serious business, an opportunity that will shape them over their lifetime. Yet at the same time, that we can and will have fun. That they can be both safe and brave. I tell, them, and show they, that we will laugh, we will make mistakes, we will all grow. We get to be who we are today, we don't have to know exactly what the future will bring. We get to stay in the process of learning growing being. 

They don't have to be perfect, but they should care, try, and I will help them care and help them to try.

There are times when I get sick of the grind of teach; let's feel about them when it comes time to grade!! I have been in the classroom twenty years. Yet, days like yesterday, with "my" freshman, hep me remember the magic of teaching, of learning, of being alive.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Good Morning

I woke up at six, and wrote for a half hour, before doing anything.
I mean, anything.
A good morning.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Scholars/Doctoral Students Impacted by Harvey

My heart goes out to you, as you try to cope with the implications of the storm on your lives. I am not back to work until Sept. 15th (and very slow until near the end of September), so have some extra time. I would like to offer a few free coaching sessions to doctoral students and scholars in need right now.  An empathic ear? A sounding board?  Some motivation when it seems impossible? Yes, you might have more immediate thing with which to contend, but if you do need some coaching to help you keep hope, let me know. I am here, if I can help. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Online Workshop-Practical Tips for Writing Your Dissertation

Struggling with your dissertation? Stuck? Want to work with Rich? 

A 8-week online workshop, January 5th – March 10th, 2018, through the Taos Institute. Open to all PhD students and candidates at any university. All disciplines welcome!

This online workshop is designed for doctoral students to help 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.  
Dates: Live calls on Wed mornings.

Registration Fee: $500 for students, $600 others

Registration link,


Email: for registration questions (Registration starts soon. Limited to 20, and we will fill up!)
(Rates good before December 15th. After Dec. 15th, add $100.) 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Month of Writing Tip Haiku: Processing

Well, less than a month ago I gave myself the challenge of writing 30 "writing tip haiku" by the end of the month. In spite of not being sure if I really wrote a great deal that would help others, I pressed onward. However, I don't get to know my impact, really. I have explored before that our jobs are to follow our passions and commitments, push forward, and do our work. When we worry about our impact while we are engaged in projects it rarely helps us. Our brains are good for engaging in our work, but not much help when evaluating ourselves and what we offer.

It was nice to get back to a consistent stretch of blogging. After five plus years, it can be challenging to figure out what to write about. This feels like a nice reboot.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 30: The Last Haiku

The Last Haiku

Thirty now complete.
Helped one scholar, write one line?
Than I am fulfilled.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Writing Tip Haikus 28 & 29: When you don't get.....

When you don't get what you need in order to thrive

Taught to go it alone.
Needs go unmet. Shame. Hopeless.
Coach? Therapist? Seek.

It is now on you.
F' you hopelessness. Agency.
Its now on you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Writing tip Haiku 27: Back up journal

Back up journal

Have you chosen it?
Before article is started?
No? Woo is thee, woo.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 26: Journal Selection

Journal Selection

Have you chosen it?
Before article is started?
No? Woo is thee, woo.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 25: Hope


Running, a deep spring.
When dry, the days, without end.
Find reason, or drought.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 24: Word Count

Word count

Have you chosen it?
Before article is started?
No? Woo is thee, woo.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 23: Depression and Writing

Depression and Writing

It hurts. Why bother.
Futile. Awful. Judgments. Shame.
You deserve; seek help.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 22: Fear and Writing

Fear and Writing

Imagine the bad.
Future events, appear real.
Breath. One word. The next.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 21: 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge

Write, thirty days straight.
If you make it, and you can,
you will change. Promise.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 18: You are the tool

You Are The Tool

Want to write a lot?
Focus on self-downing thoughts.
You, the sharpened tool.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 17: Grammar


Obsess about it.
Or spelling, writing draft one.
Kill depth, focus, flow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Writing Tip 16: Modes of Academic Writing

Modes of Academic Writing

One of my secrets.
Got to work with me to know.
Tee hee, tee hee, tee.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 15: Primary and secondary articles

Primary and secondary articles

Touch primarily daily.
Secondary time to time.
Most people 2 max.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 14: 30 minutes a day

Daily 30 minute writing ritual

Baseline. Minimum.
Day after day. One word, two.
Builds a strong career.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 13: Perfect Grammar

Perfect Grammar

Kill productive work.
Strive for total perfection,
While writing each line.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 12: Working with collaborators

Working with Collaborators

Model. Be what you wish,
in your ideal colleague.
Control what you can.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Writing Tip Haikus 9,10 & 11: Article Rejections

Article Rejections

Really, major suck.
Suck worse than 80s hair bands.
Milli Vanilli.

Feel, do not wallow

Cry for but a day.
Some feedback good, some drivel.
Two weeks to attack.

Neither Gods nor Goats

You have agency.
Explore issues with editor.
Calm self and mind. Write.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 8: Books

Writing a Book

So big, Huge. Scary.
Nobody eats the whale.
One word. One word. One.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 7: Cognitive Therapy for Self

The essense of cogntive therapy or How to change your poopy feelings Haiku
By Rich Furman
Grade 3

Find the hard feeling.
Identify causal belief.
Discover the truth.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 6: How cognitive "therapy" is empowering

How cognitive therapy is empowering
(a wee bit verbose Haiku)

Thinking creates affect.
Possess within your control
Power, change your thinking.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku 4: Articles


Need a clear structure.
Choose word count, prior to start.
Cutting words, tears, blood.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Challenge

Follow this sequence and see what happens.

1) Quickly identify a place on your primary writing project that you need to expand.
2) Find two sources with information/theory/data to help you at that spot.
3) Set timer for ten minutes, scan each for needed material, five minutes each.
4) Return to spot, and write quickly, without censure, but with intentionality, until your done.
5) Read. Ask yourself, "how do I improve the ideas here"?
6) Do it, for ten minutes

Repeat, every day, over and over and over :).

Writing Tip Haiku 3: Text Messaging. Stop. Now. Please.

Horrid addiction.
Destroyer of dreams, writing.
Eats children while sleep.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Writing Tip Haiku: 1

Sometimes, to break out of a blogging rut, I have to give myself challenges, and shake things up. So, I am going to try to write a whole bunch of writing tip Haiku during July. Can I get to 30?

And yes, I do get that Haiku are far nuanced than how they are frequently bastardized. I will explore that a bit later, but for now, lets begin :).

The sound of fingers.
Silently dance, kiss the keys.
This is all there is.

The more you write, the more you want to write

Not much more to say than that, but perhaps, I will. The more you write, the more you want to write. I am not advocating for binge writing, for hours and hours of writing in spite of having no desire to do so. That leads to frustration and burn out. I am advocating for consistency, a daily practice that nurtures your mind, your creative self.

Certainly, we have to learn a great many tools to be successful as academic writers, and if we are not focused on one or two or even three articles (or whatever) than all the writing in the world would add up to little. Yet, engaging in the discipline of writing each and every day (or most days), year after year leads to deeper thinking, deeper practice, and the results we want. It also increases our motivation for writing. Writing, begets writing.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Your Professional Mission Statement

On Twitter the other day, a wise young scholar presented what I would call a professional/academic mission statement. It reminded me that I wrote this down as a title for a potential blog post many moons ago and made a few notes. So, no time like the present, even though this is going to be a short post.

An academic/professional mission statement is a statement of intent about what your scholarly work stands for, and/or what you stand for as a scholar. There are many uses of creating a mission statement: clarity of purpose for self; putting out your intention to the world; having a lens/filter to help you in your decision making process; and, as a pitch to other scholars/organizations/practitioners about how you might of value/service to them, ect.

Regardless of what you do with it, is a healthy process, intentionally considering what you stand for, what your mission is, and what you hope to achieve as the organization of you. 

Without being prescriptive, think of yourself as an organization; this will help you get outside of yourself just a bit, and help to keep your expectations realistic. Write a mission statement for yourself. Share it with a trusted colleague for feedback (or me, if you wish!!)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

An Article is Not a Career

The other day, I had a brief exchange with a colleague about the skills/tools/attributes that must be unearned as a scholar moves from dissertating to article writing. That, plus a conversation today with a client who is starting his first article, gave me the idea for this post.

One of these skills, attitudinal spaces, if you will, is the realization that an article is not a career. What I mean is that once a scholar finishes his/her dissertation, there is this tendency to want to pack everything you have learned about into an article. 

Yet, that is not an article! It is only a dissertation that contains every random notion, that random people insist that you include, and every theory, idea, notion or study related to your research. (ok, a bit of a stretch, but allow me the exaggerations for the sake of argument).

You can't include it all in an article, but you can write about any/all of it over the course of your career! That is the good news!

If you learn good tools of writing productivity, develop the tricks and tools of writing articles, and work on the psychological barriers that get in your way, you will have the opportunity to write many, many articles. 

Work hard at resisting the temptation of trying to pack too much into an article. Academic articles are focused slices of your work.  It can be a bit unsatisfying, excluding material that you find so important. Just remember, this is a long game, our careers, and writing a focused article is going to lead to fewer rejections. You will have the opportunity to write many more articles.

You can. You will.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

But you and I are not among them.

 A quote from Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction, that might be valuable for scholars to consider.

There are  few lucky souls for whom the whole process of writing is easy, for whom the smell of fresh paper is better than air, whose minds chuckle over their own agility, who forget to eat, who consider the world at large an intrusion on their good time at the keyboard. But you and I are not among them.

And so, if you are I are not among them, and must condend with imperfection and grouchy resistance, with not being constantly enamored with our facile moves upon the page, what then? What then for those of us who must stay in process and slug it out, day after day, year after year?

Consider and contemplate.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My First Summer Off In a Decade!

Well, sort of. Its my first summer off my from university gig in a decade. My out of the office email notes that I will not be checking until September 15th, and for friends and colleagues to track me down on my personal account. I am not teaching. I have no service responsibilities. This is why I signed up for this gig in the first place, no?

Its not like I am sinking into the brain rot of the beckoning couch, watching reruns of the Brady bunch and sliding into sloth. I still have coaching clients, including a couple of new ones who are amazing! I am starting my MFA in a month, and I am writing! A lot!  But mostly, I am reading, and reading widely. Borges' Collected Fictions,  Slater's post-modern memoir Lying, Johnson's metaphorically rich stories of the tragic in Jesus' Son, and on and on and on.

I am sorry I have not blogged in a month. I will make some posts soon, as this is how I try to be of service to others. But I am reading, I am writing, I am happy.    

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Disseration Week, Doctor!

Yes, you know who you are. I have never, never been more proud of a scholar in my life. The way you have persevered, have transcended deep dark spaces, have embraced your research with a spirit of caring and compassion, the work that you do to empower communities who have so little voice. You do research that matters. You have shown courage and grace.

Three more days until I get to call you doctor.

You rock. You are amazing!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

My New Adventure!

So, I am going back to school! Yes, Rich, the academic writing coach, is going to be a student again. And in writing! Starting this summer, I am going to be a student of Creative Nonfiction at Queens University Charlotte's MFA, Latin America program.  This is a low residency program, with summer intensives of two plus weeks in different Latin American cities (somebody has to do it!), with individual mentorship during the year. I am going to be (probably) focusing on flash nonficiton, although I am sure I will be exploring other essay forms, and perhaps some longer forms of creative nonfiction as well. This is a bucket list item for me, and I am really excited!

Of course, I am continuing my full time gig as professor of social work at University of Washington Tacoma. I will also be continuing my coaching practice, but will not have as many clients as in the past. So, if your interested in working with me, best to get on the waiting list well in advance!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Why Strengths Matter

When things are not going well, it is natural (well, human) to ask "what is wrong?" What is wrong; the focus of Freud, most of your doctors, your mechanic, dishwasher repair person, and the costumer service manager that you complained to.

I am not publishing enough? What is wrong
I am not writing enough? What is wrong.
I have ideas that I cannot organize? What is wrong.
I get so anxious that I can't write. What is wrong.
I beat myself up so much. What is wrong with me that I do this.. What is wrong, what is wrong, what is wrong.

And yes, you are wise to attend to "what is wrong."

Yet, if you have made it to a PhD, no less through a PhD, you have a thousand more "what is rights" (writes) than you do "what is wrongs."

You are a bundle of capacities, strengths and resiliencies, and "goodnessess."

Fine Rich, all well and good, but I want to fix what is wrong! My strengths are fine, so I can leave them alone.

Well, my fine feathered friend- maximizing what is right is one of the most effective ways of resolving what is wrong.

Let me say this another way-maximize your strengths in service of mitigating your weaknesses.

Or another- the more you focus on your strengths, and continue to developed and grow them, better you will do.

And finally-build your strengths for greatness. Reduce your weaknesses for fine-tuning functionality.

Nuff' said.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Paradox of Staying in Process

When I ask clients to let go of their outcomes for a bit, and to focus on developing their processes, there are two fears (concerns?) that many have.

1) They will not active their goals.
2) The quality of their work will slip.

When people are so focused on their outcomes goals, it is hard for them to imagine that somehow their work will get finished if they don't constantly look at, evaluate, explore, and recalibrate their goals. However so many scholars become overwhelmed with the constant and heavy presence of their goals, and feel ashamed when they are even a day or two behind. Goals are important, but they are useless when they are not linked to daily process that lead to their fulfillment. 

Set goals, develop the means of achieving them, and then forget about them. Consider.

In a similar fashion, letting go of the notion of "game changing" work is hard for people, as they tell themselves that the whole purpose of what they wish to do is to create that type of work. 

Letting go of an obsessive focus on quality, while in the process of writing, in the moment, does not lead to less quality of writing. Staying the moment, focusing on the techniques of writing productivity and good writing practices leads to better writing, and far better outcomes.

This are not new ideas; I have explored them here many, many times.  A recent conversation with a prospective client, however, made me want to explore them again. Sometimes, we have to hear (read) things many times, in many different ways, before they begin to "sink in."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Journal Chasing and Fit

In previous posts, I have explored the importance of "fit" in the journal selection process. The more I talk to scholars about their problems with writing and publishing, the greater importance that fit has in my mind.

The other day, I had an hour chat with a talented junior scholar who has been somewhat obsessed (her word) with publishing in the top journal in her field. So preoccupied with publishing in this journal, she has morphed and changed her work to be more congruent with it. The problem is, in the process of morphing, she is not longer the best version of herself, and her work is loosing its quality and and focus. Also, she is loosing her passion for her writing.

This is an extreme case, but "journal chasing" can have many deleterious effects: feeling discouraged, getting reviews by people who don't understand your methodology, engaging in analysis that your not trained to do, evaluating your work as inferior (when it is only different), etc.

Yes, its great to publish in the top journals.Yes, it might be needed for T and P where you are. But if it is not, you would be well served to find journals that best match your work, in terms of methodology and topic, discourse community and "feel."

In the age of the Internet, people who want to read your work will find it, regardless of the "tier" of the journals you are publishing in. Journal chasing, however, may lead to demoralization and poor productivity. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Are All Feelings "Healthy"? Always?

A conversation in a coffeehouse has me wanting to wax a bit about feelings. To set the mood, how about a "classic song" -Feelings :)  We get mixed messages about how to deal with our feelings. Some believe feelings just "exist" and that we must accept them and cherish them.  According to this logic, our feelings are guides that teach us about life; we need to "lean into them," experience them, and accept them as part of who we are.

Yes, I whole heatedly agree. And Yes, I totally and utterly disagree.

Let me explain.

The above approach or attitude about feelings assumes that all feelings are the same, and all that feelings are helpful, healthy, and serve us well. Yet, we all know from personal experience that this is just not the case. Must of us know that some feeling states do not serve us well, and do not help our functioning, goals or relationships. For examples, extreme rage and fear usually lead to difficult outcomes for us. 

Two years ago, during the summer of 2015, I wrote a series of posts that explore a variety of ways to alter self downing and anxiety; two emotional states (cognitive/emotional, actually) that interfere with our writing and performance. In these posts, you can explore how to alter your feelings to better serve your needs.

Feeling can be changed by our perspective, attitudes, and beliefs. In fact, our thinking is the largest determinant of our feelings. That is good news, as our thinking is something that we can directly control.

Yes, accept your feelings- they are part of your humanity. Yet, when your feelings are not working for you, when they are getting in the way of your dreams, your goals, and your writing, make changing a feeling one of your goals.

Then set about finding out how to do so. Julio will understand. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Write more, focus on publishing less

I attended a writer's group yesterday that I go to every once in a while. We spent a lot of time talking about publishing; more about publishing than writing, in fact. While this was a creative writing group, I am struck by the implications of this for all writers.

Too often, people focus on the desired outcome and not on the actual processes to get there. Scholars and writers who want to publish a lot should write a lot, or at least spend more of their time focusing on their writing than they do on the desire to publish. 

I know, I am not saying anything new, revolutionary, or even perhaps insightful. Yet, its what strikes me today, and as I try to work my way out or a bit of blogging rut, a decent post is more than enough. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thank your mentor(s)

That is the challenge for the day. A lovely email from an old friend and colleague reminded me of the importance of being thankful to those who have given to us. Don't take those in your life who have given to you for granted.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Simple check in

Its been a while since I have written on my blog.  I have been busy. Teaching, working on two books, a couple of articles, my creative nonfiction and coaching. So, just a check in to say I am still here, still working away, and feeling good.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

100 words, today

Yes, it is the weekend. And no, I don't want you to over-work or burn out. But 100 words does is not going to make you feel burrned out if you are working on the proper attitude about your writing.

See if you can write a meaningful 100 words, in peace, with calm, and without stress or self-judgment.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ten minutes a day on Sat and Sun challenge

I want to issue a challenge here. Write for ten minutes on Saturday and Sunday if you do not normally do so. However, I want you to focus on your "head game" here; I am less worried about what you write and how much. Work on relaxing into your writing; on enjoying it, and challenging the "tapes" that lead to anxiety, stress, and self downing.

Writing is not inherently stressful; our own perspective and thinking is what makes it so. Change your relationship to writing, and you can write a good deal without feeling overworked. Bring a bunch of "cognitive garbage" to writing sessions, and even a few minutes feels awful.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Open Letter, to Professors, Chairs and Deans

Dear colleagues,

Do you know an assistant professor who is in trouble?. We all know one. A great colleague who is at risk of not getting tenure. They teach well, are good colleagues/citizens, but they do not publish or publish enough. They have had some internal supports, perhaps, but either not enough or something is not clicking. I can help. The insightful, strength based coaching I provide for academics on writing productivity, publishing scholarly articles, and the psychosocial barriers that inhibit scholars from thriving has helped many faculty move successfully toward tenure and beyond. I have developed a unique set of techniques and skills based on evidence-based approaches to writing, publishing, coaching, and psychotherapy. I am passionate about this work!

I try to make my services accessible, which includes, but is not limited to, accepting faculty development and other funds from universities (I accept private payments as well). If you know of any assistant professors who may need help thriving, or associate professors who are trying to jump start their careers and move toward promotion, please do let me know or pass this note on to them. I also conduct one and two day workshops on writing and publishing; it would be fun to come to your campus for a workshop and a visit.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Scholars Impacted by Ban, Free Coaching

Scholars who have been impacted by the ban, all my services, coaching and writing support, are free for you right now. I am here, as much as I can help, as many people as I can help, I am here.

I not only help scholars, doctoral students and faculty, with writing and publishing, but am skilled at helping people resolve the emotional and psychosocial barrier that get in their way. If you are feeling demoralized, panicked, depressed over this. I am here.  Just tell me that you have been greatly harmed, emotionally or otherwise by this, and I will work with you for free for now. Period. Please email me.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Support for Scholars Impacted by "The Ban and The Wall"

Dear community,

I have decided that I am going to offer some group webinars/virtual support groups for scholars who have been emotionally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise deeply impacted by Trump's executive orders related to immigration and refugees. These will of course be free of charge. I will facilitate these and will rely on coaching, group support, and whatever else is needed to help folks. The details will be forthcoming, but the first one will be this Wednesday, Feb 1, at 11:30 Pacific Time.

Flying by the seat of my pants here; more details later, but I feel called to act NOW.

Please email me if you wish to participate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No, you own it to me

Goodwill Hunting is one of my favorite movies. I have used a few different scenes from it for my Introduction to Masculinities and Men and Masculinities and Criminal Justice courses. This morning, I woke up thinking about one of my favorite scenes, one that I have never thought of using in a course, or as an exemplar for anything. However, today that scene has a great deal of currency.

I also spent a good deal of time this morning lamenting that I am not going to any of the marches or protests. I have spend more than a night or two in jail protesting Apartheid, the "secret" war in Nicaragua, death squads in El Salvador (by military personnel trained in the US), and the last two wars in the middle east. I have marched, I have protested, I have put my butt on the line.

Why am I writing this? I am saying this not to impress you, but to assuage my guilt. My arthritis is just too advanced to stand or walk for any length of time without being in a ton of pain. I can cycle for hours, but I don't think I could even run a block or two. Sigh.

So, I write. I will continue to write about the criminalization of immigration and transnational social work-these are the two topics I write about out of my commitment toward social change. They are important issues today, IMHO.

But today, I am going to focus on an autoethnography I am working on. It has nothing to do with social change or justice. It is for me. I get to write today because I owe it to humanity to actualize my sense of who I wish to be in the world. I get to write with my lovely dogs in my lap, and my fantastic girlfriend in the other chair. I get to feel love, and frankly, I ##((^$ing owe it to humanity to love today, to express the best parts of who I am.

Yes, I owe it to humanity, and will continue to own it to humanity, to write, to teach, to be of service with my coaching. And you know what? 95% of those conversations, of those actions, will have nothing to do with Trump and the current sociopolitical movements. Those #($*(#(#s do not get that to impact me there. They do not get to have that part of me; they are not permitted into that space. Never.

And your work? That which you love? You not only own it to yourself, but guess what, you own to "me".

Yes, you own it to "me", the universal "me," to continue the work that you do. To express the best parts of who you are, of what you wish to be and actualize in this world. You owe it to me to continue to do what matters to you, the passions and research you have cultivated over many, many years. You owe "me" the best of who you are.

I am not saying you can't be troubled or deeply saddened about what is going on in the world. I am not saying you can't be stuck. What I am suggesting is that self care, self actualization, and personal growth are going to be a key part of what we will be called upon to do. When it seems futile and hopeless to engage in work that is seemingly so disconnected from what is happening in the the country today, just remember that what you do is part of creating what is happening in the world. You are the embodiment of the world, and we need you to write, writing joyfully, write with love, but damn it, don't stop for anyone else.

Friday, January 20, 2017

List Ten Motivations

Here is an exercises. I want you to list ten years why you should write. I don't mean the big reasons, not the end game, but ten things that can push you to write today. See what you come up with.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Motivation: Use of structure

Too often, when scholars and writers think of motivation they neglect to consider the importance of structure, ritual, and consistency. The advantage of a structural/environmental approach to motivation is that it accounts for the ebbs in flows of our internal motivation. That is, our desire to engage in behaviors we wish will often shift and change. When we have structures in place that ritualize our behavior, our cognitive and emotional energies can lag somewhat behind.

Consider developing a plan that integrates the following areas of writing/scholarly productivity. Develop these structures and inoculate yourself against motivational lulls. Click on each issue to see a previous post I have written.

Calendar use/time
A process approach

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Motivation: Lessons for Business Applied to Us

Ok. First post on motivation, as promised. Except, I am not going to do the work for you today (I am tired!). Watch this Ted Talk video by Dan Pink. He explores issues of motivation as they apply to business. I am asking you to think of the implications for higher education, and for yourself as a scholar/writer.  If you are willing, do a five minute freewrite reflecting upon the video.

What does this mean for your writing? How can you implement one insight you gleaned?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Motivation Self Reflection

Over the next few posts, I am going to explore various conceptions of motivation and how they inform academic (and other) writers. To start, consider the following questions for yourself.

1) What currently motivates you to write?

2) What feelings, behaviors and context are demotivating?

3) Think of a time when you were particularly motivated to write? What event/feeling/belief/behavior(s) lead to this motivation?

4) What might be your blindspots regarding your motivation? In other words, carefully reflect upon what you wrote and see if all of them ring true, or if perhaps you may be perpetuating some internalized myths or beliefs that do not serve you well. This is hard to do, but developing this type of insight is an important step toward "self coaching".

Friday, January 6, 2017


In the next few posts, I will be exploring conceptions of motivation, and interrogate the implications of these ideas for academic life, writing, and for the coaching of academics.  Tune in if you are wishing to improve your motivation, or help others do so.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Challenge: One Action, Today

Your challenge for the day is simple. Think of one action you can take to improve your writing processes and practices. Make it a small change. See if you can practice it, even if for only a couple of minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Living in The Important, But Not Urgent

The book, 7 Habits for Highly Effective People was one of the most influential self help/leadership books of all time. Like many good books of its type, many of the lessons are not revolutionary, but are well-packaged distillations of truths that have been known for a long time (this is not meant as a dig, FYI) They also successfully demonstrate how to apply these lessons to important contexts and domains. That is, perhaps, one of the key functions of therapy and coaching as well, as an aside.

The most important lesson (IMHO) from that book lies in Covey's Time Management Quadrants. The US Government's Geological Survey Office of Office of Employee and Organizational Development, of all places, presents a great discussion of the tool and a couple of good ways of using it, should you like a more in-depth exploration.

For now, this simple depiction is enough to help me make my point.

Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants | the late stephen covey s time matri

Covey explored how our sense of urgency about tasks, regardless of their level of importance, tends to get our attention, unless we are intentional about doing otherwise. This becomes especially true as people are constantly connected to emails and texts; the immediacy of these medium pull people toward responding.

To keep it simple, I am proposing this: start every day with writing that is not urgent, but important. (and this really is not my idea, as it has been explored by many, but I, as I suggested, am repackaging and recontextualizing good ideas!)

In other words, do the writing for which there is no time crunch first. The things that are urgent will get done, or at least we are more likely to do them. However, by focusing on that which is important but not urgent first, we make movement on long-term writing projects and goals, thereby helping us feel less anxious and stressed.

Live as much as you can in the important and not urgent. See what that does to your productivity, and your long term sense of accomplishment.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

6th Calendar Year of My Blog, Write, Publish, Thrive!

Happy New Year! With the start of 2017, Write, Publish, Thrive is now in its 6th calendar year. As someone who values showing up each day,  year after year, and trusting that such actions will lead to good things, I am feeling really grateful.  How lucky that writing is such a central part of my life. How fortunate to be engaged with amazing scholars on their journeys toward thriving.

I want to wish my readers a healthy, productive 2017.