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.