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 beckoning coach, 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. Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

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. Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Webinar 4: Methods of Accountability

Webinar 4: Methods of Accountability 

What:  In this webinar, we explore various method of accountability, focusing on interpersonal/relationship based approaches. Scholars and writers will learn the strengths and limitations of an array of technological and non-technologically based tools. I present a strenghts-based, socio-cognitive model as the theoretical underpinning of various practices. Participants will develop an accountability plan, integrating the tools they learn into an integrated practice.

When:  March 6th, Monday, 8am-9:30am, Pacific Time (11am East Coast Time)

Where: Anywhere in the world. While video is preferred, you will be able to access from anywhere in the world

Price: $25.00, Paypal to richfurmanphd@gmail.com

How many: 25 max

Who: Doctoral students, university faculty of all types and ranks, PhDs, creatives, professionals who write.

Contact: Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

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.

Ritual
Calendar use/time
A process approach
Accountability

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Webinar 3: Writing a Book Prospectus

Writing A Book Prospectus

What: In this 1.5 hour, interactive video webinar (one hour lecture and experiential exercises, and half hour Q and A),

When:  Feb 16th, Thursday, 8am-9:30am, Pacific Time (11am East Coast Time)

What: In this workshop, you will be learn the various elements of writing a successful academic/scholarly book proposal. We begin by exploring the realities of scholars publishing, followed by a discussion of how to target publishers to meet your career aims. We then interrogate the various components of a successful prospectus/proposal. We articulate these skills and tools to writing productivity and how to plan your academic career. A brief discussion of creating a platform/marketing plan will be addressed.

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 richfurmanphd@gmail.com

How many:  25 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 are considering writing a nonfiction book!

Is Rich qualified to conduct this workshop? Well, you be the judge. I am the author of over 15 books, including multiple books with Colombia University Press and Oxford University Press. I have coached many scholars through the process of developing a book proposals.

Contact: Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

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

Webinar #2: Modes of Academic Writing

The Modes of Academic Writing

What: In this 1.5 hour, interactive video webinar (one hour lecture and experiential exercises, and half hour Q and A), you will explore what I call the "mode of academic writing." The modes of academic writing represent a system of steps and moves to help you maximize various writing tasks efficiently and effectively. In this workshop, I will teach you the uses of, and provide you space to practice, the uses of freewriting, focused freewriting, analytical writing, administrative writing, and editing. You will develop skills for deciding how to "enter" your writing project, and develop a key tactic toward more productive writing.

When: January 27th, 9am-10:30am, 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:  25 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. This one would also be great for attorneys and professionals who need to write a lot.

Contact: Richfurmanphd@gmail.com

Motivation

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 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.

Cheers.