Friday, May 24, 2019

Writing on the Weekends..... not stressful or taxing if you have worked through the beliefs, self-talk and schema, and the associated emotions,  that lead writing to feel like work.  When you write in a sustainable manner on most days, writing can nurture your life. When it becomes free of judgement and expectation, when you use carefully crafted processes that work for you, it can be a pure joy, or at least a "neutral" activity.

And if you have not achieved this state? Please, don't write on weekends.

Until you do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spontaneity and Openness to Compliment Rituals and Habits

Only a couple of days ago I wrote about the importance of habit and ritual- I have done so since the start of this blog, almost seven years ago. I advocate the crafting of processes that we can engage in over and over, day after day, in a sustainable, healthy way. This type of repetition has lead many scholars to success--it is one of the keys to mine.

However, that does not mean that we can't be creative, have periods of time that are more open and spontaneous. For example, I write every day, in a highly ritualized, prescribed manner. But during the summer, and usually once a week during the academic year, I like to go on drives for a "writing day." I don't write the whole day, but I take my writing sessions "on the road" going to random coffee houses, libraries, even piers and parks all over the Puget Sound area. I will use these days for primary articles, or let myself write whatever I want. I have multiple writing sessions, or just write a few minutes here and there.

Days like this help keep me fresh, and prevent me from being bored with my daily habits, and feeling good about my daily writing allows me to let it rip when I feel like it--the two work hand in hand. One of the many interesting paradoxes and surprises of the writing process.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Rituals: For When Writing is NOT going well

Why should we engage in writing rituals? The purpose of writing rituals is to habituate our writing, to make that time feel off or wrong when we do not write. Rituals are supposed to make you feel a bit anxious if you do not engage in the desired behavior! When your writing is going well, when you are consistently settling in and using your writing sessions efficiently, you may tell yourself that you do not need to do rituals, believing that they are somehow superfluous now that "you got this!!"

However, engaging in writing rituals before each session is not for when things are going well, but for when you are not wanting to write, when there are more reasons for you to desist than normal. You want to construct a writing life that is sustainable over time--rituals are a key aspect to this habit.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Practical Tips for Scholarly Publishing: An Online Workshop Starting in August!!

In Collaboration with The Taos Institute

Rich Furman, MSW, PhD

Dates: August 13-September 17th (a 6-week online workshop)

This six-week online distance workshop is designed to empower scholars, doctoral students and practitioners to increase their ability to write and publish. It adopts a strengths-based, developmental approach that deconstructs strategies unknown to most scholars. Conducted by an Rich Furman, coach, therapist and professor, participants personalize lessons to meet their scholarly goals and dreams through writing exercises, on-line discussions, weekly group conference calls and video lectures. This workshop helps participants master skills and knowledge within four domains:

1) Writing productivity
2) The ins and outs of writing articles, books and dissertations
3) Managing the journal selection, submission and peer review processes
4) The psychosocial barriers that inhibit these three other domains. This last area is a special focus and expertise of the facilitator and makes this course a unique and fulfilling experience.  

  1. Master methods of writing productivity.
  2. Make significant progress on longer projects (books and dissertations), or complete and submit an academic article.
  3. Develop tools for breaking through personal blocks and barriers that hinder writing productivity and scholarly success.
  4. Develop life-long and regular practices for successful writing

Live Group Calls:
  1. Each week for the 6 weeks everyone will participate in a group conference call.
  2. Calls will be held on Tuesdays each week for 1.5 hours.
  3. Choice of time for live call:  (choose one) 
    • 10 am Eastern time,  7 am pacific time. 
    • or 
    • 8 pm Eastern time,  5 pm pacific time

Link to registration form forthcoming. Your registration is complete only upon receipt of the registration fee. If you need assistance, email

Registration Fee: (US dollars)
$450 all student and Taos Associates
$550 general public


Rich Furman, MSW, PhD, is Professor of Social Work at the University of Washington Tacoma and author of the acclaimed, “Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles.”  Rich’s mission is to empower academics to maximize their strengths and transcend their psychosocial barriers so they can build powerful careers and thrive. In addition to having conducted workshops around the world on scholarly writing and publishing, he provides individualized coaching to doctoral students and scholars of all academics ranks, in all academic and professional disciplines. He is the author of over 15 books and over 120 peer-reviewed articles. His areas of interest include globalization and social work, men and masculinities, the criminalization of immigration, and expressive qualitative methodologies.

The Dissertation Wound

For many, the whole dissertation process is painful. It wounds. Wounds need to heal. Sometimes, wound heal on their own. Other times, we need to engage in careful wound care to insure that our wounds do not fester, don't leave scar tissue that impedes our moving through the world. When scar tissue hampers our range of motion, our metaphorical movement through our scholarly lives, we need outside intervention.

Such scar tissue can last decades. We deserve to care for our wounds, and our scar tissue, throughout our careers, throughout our lives.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Catching Up To Who You Are

Sometimes, it take a while to catch up to your successes, to catch up to who you have become as a scholar.  One's sense of self often does not quickly change. Old doubts, sometimes very old, do not miraculously abate when you meet a career goal, milestone, or reach a certain level of achievement. Old tapes are not easily erased- it takes time. Time, and concerted effort, concerted reprogramming.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Committing to Your Processes: Reflect

What are the process that you engage in to meet your goals? How do you set them up? How do you ensure you that you engage in them as frequently as you wish? Are they developed well enough to help you meet your goals? Do they all serve you well, or are some based upon productivity myths?

This are important questions to ask, more important, I would argue, than spending too much time considering your goals.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Saying No To Opportunities 4: Random Thoughts

Saying no to "opportunities" is one of the painful and confounding challenges scholars face throughout their careers. It is one of the difficulties that never goes away--it triggers so many of our fears and doubts.

Early in one's career, either as a masters or doctoral student, or even earlier depending upon one's journey, we are often fascinated with, perhaps even enchanted by, some of the mysterious things that professors do: serving on grant review panels, presenting at conferences, lectures, reviewing articles for journals, writing book chapters, serving on committees that can change the shape of a university(we learn about that one quickly!) etc.. 

And what is really incredible, is that they are invited to do many of these seemingly amazing things because they are brilliant experts in their fields--or so we imagine. In this conjured space, this space where this deified other processes skill and traits that we fear we will never possess, we wonder if we too shall ever be afforded some of these opportunities.

Then, we get one. And then another. But, not that one, or that one. And surely, that one is beyond my reach, we say to ourselves. And then, we are asked to do one of those, so of course, we say yes, no matter how busy we are. It is reasonable to say yes, of course, how could we ever say no to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

You do, of course, see where I am going with this post. The vast majority of what we view as opportunities will be offered to us again, and then again. We have to learn that when we are at our limits, we are at our limits, and nothing else should be added to our workloads. I have made it a rule for myself to made a decision when I am at at 100% workload. I try to check in with myself often--where am I with my teaching, research/creative, service load. Do I have room for anymore?

When I am offered an opportunity,  asked to "serve," asked a favor, etc., I have some options in front of me, and I have to be intentional about what I choose to do: 1) say no; 2) say yes and then let something else go: or, 3) decide that the opportunity is just so great that I cannot say no, and then realize that I am going to have to find a way of letting something else go soon. Really soon.

It is the last part that most forget to do.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Saying No To Opportunities: Part 3 Persistence and Agency

Managing opportunities is not only about saying no or deciding when to say yes--we can create our own opportunities. Intentionally seeking what we wish to have in our careers makes it far easier to say no to opportunities that do not serve us.

Sometimes, it feels like we have to wait for opportunities to come to us. However, you have agency., you have choice, you can steer this ship of your career, as slow turning as it might seem. If you want to become a journal editor, actively seek opportunities. If you want to lecture at other universities, put that out there to your network.  If you believe you would have a shot at an award, even a long shot, ask someone to nominate you (that is often how awards are won!!). If you wish to train with someone, tell them of your desire. You may be rejected, once, twice, three times, but persistence pays off. Persistence is a large part of opportunity development.

Persistence and agency--antidotes for passivly waiting and believing we have to say yes to everything.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Saying No To Opportunities: Part 2, The Core

It is those few, rare, special opportunities that we must say yes to, no matter how busy we are. The key is discerning them from the less essential, which is a significant challenge, as this distinction changes as as we accumulate successes. Very early in one's career giving a seemingly important lecture without compensation at a busy time might be a fantastic opportunity--that may change very quickly, without us being aware of the passing of one season to the next.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Writing While Sick

I have a cold. I don't get them often, and when I do, I am a big baby. But still, I am writing. Why? I have spent a long time working on the tools and skills (writing processes, cognitive restructuring, "mental game" if you will) that makes writing a very unstressful activity. I just do it, without much cognitive load, with very little emotionality and very little cognitive chatter.

When sick, I know that I may not have a great session, but who cares? I don't need every session to be good when I am writing each day. I just need to stay in process, one writing task at a time, and let go of the results. Paradoxically, this leads to, over time, happy results.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Saying No To Opportunities: Part 1, The Simple Answer

Most things that seem like great opportunities at one stage in our careers will become commonplace as we progress. Many will even become annoying obligations or burdons. If you do well, you will always have more of these.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

You Want to Stay

Reduced  and  changed slightly from a post on my website, I thought I would share some thoughts as a blog post. I love that there are good, ethical people out there that want to help PhDs find non-academic careers.  That is awesome! There are many amazing things we can do with our PhDs! I dislike, however, some of the fear mongering and fantasy thinking that occurs in some discourses around the Shangri La that they make "industry" out to be.

There are many @altac and @postac coaches,  workshop leaders and self-anointed "gurus" and "ninjas" who base their practices on helping you leave higher education. They remind you of the statistics and what they see as the harsh reality--too many people applying for too few positions. They list all the ways in which the academe is oppressive, soul crushing, alienated labor. They say they provide you with the tools and resources you need to find jobs in "industry."

With due respect, and not to sound too snarky, but some of the harshest critiques of the academe might not have learned the tools and skills that they needed in order to be successful in faculty positions. Some may not have published enough to even have had a chance. Please consider the source.  Sorry if this sounds unkind, but it is important to contextualize some of what is discussed on Twitter and in other social media within that context. This does not apply to all,  or most even, of course--many have academic records that blow mine away, no doubt.

What do they want you to do? Go into industry, and work 40-60 hours-a-week with an often inflexible schedule,  have three weeks of vacation a year in organizations where you can often be fired at-will with little to no notice? Industry, which may have never been part of your dreams? Industry, business and the non-profit world are not magical places filled with unicorn cupcakes, puppy dogs and kittens where all you eat each day is the finest sashimi prepared by Masa or Nobu. There is not a monolithic, magical there. They are places to work, good and bad, inspiring and alienating, just like universities. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Maybe universities have their problems, but don't let the anti-academe crowd fool you into believing that they provide the key to labor utopia.

I happen to love working as a professor (on most days). I have done so for twenty years, and plan to retire where I currently work. Does it have its problems? Of course. I have seen my share of unkindnesses, unfairnesses, and oppression. Yet, I worked in the world of social work practice before that, and let me tell you, it was no better. Universities exist in a social and political zeitgeist-- in the real world.  So do businesses and non-profit agencies. Silly as that sounds-- its true.
If you wish to leave university life, if you buy the @postac vision, than I wish you the best.  I hope you find happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.

I say, why not you?  Yes, tenure track positions are competitive in many fields, but thousands of people get positions each year! Yes, getting tenure can be a challenge. This is especially true if you have family obligations, have not received the mentorship you deserve, are a scholar from a marginalized or underrepresented community, have writing deficits that date back to elementary or high school school, did not grow up with English as your first language (and must publish in English) are anxious or depressed or feel beat up by abuses along the way.

There are, also, many, many jobs within higher education that are full time, wonderful, and are not faculty positions. In these, you can use many of the skills that you developed during your doctoral work.

Do you really want to leave? Do you really want to move on? Will you regret leaving for years? Have you done everything in your power to meet your goals? Have you developed all the skills and tools you need to thrive? Have you sought the best help to develop these skills?

If it feels like I am speaking to you, say hi to me.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Containing Time

How long does it take to grade a paper? How long does it take to clean the kitchen? How long does it take to prepare for a task?


As much time as you choose to give it.

Many tasks can take as long as we give them. We can spend hours and hours preparing for a class, grading a group of papers--the task will fill the time provided. If the time is not clearly bound, the task will often fill the time. Yet, our lives are so full and busy that we cannot afford to dedicate an undefined, unspecified amount of time to all of the tasks that demand our attention.

Writing will not get done. Careers will suffer.

In such situations, we must contain time, to quote a client of mine. We must decide on how much time we are going to give a task, and then find methods of self/relational accountability to insure that we don't work too much.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

You Learn More From Your Losses Than Your Wins?

I don't know who the originator of this quote was, but certainly the idea is not new. But is it true?  Do you always learn more from losses? Is there something inherent about "losing" that is more instructive than what we obtain from "winning", or is there something about losing that compels us to learn more?

Depending on the loss, we may actually become too overwhelmed or despondent to be open to lessons, at least at on the onset.  Losses most certainly can, when we are not overwhelmed by them, provide a powerful motivating fuel that propels us toward growth. Losses and setbacks most certainly can provide insights into pitfalls that exist within our environments, skills that we have not yet developed fully, or our psychosocial vulnerabilities and "soft spots." Not learning from these most certainly can hinder our growth, development, and productivity (not to mention happiness and well being!!).

However, lessons from positive psychology, resiliency studies, and the strengths perspective of social work show us that we can learn just as much from our "wins" as from our losses. We can more adeptly adopt to life's challenges and thrive when we capitalize and build upon our core strengths and assets. By leaning into our strengths, we can become best versions of ourselves and live accordingly. Successes can also build our confidence, and make it more likely that we will persist during challenging times.

We learn from both wins and losses. Growth and development should be built upon both maximizing our strengths and transforming/mitigating our weaknesses.