Spring Your Writing Forward: Get a Month of Motivation in April

Accomplish your academic writing goals by focusing on two areas of academic writing that many authors tend to struggle with – isolation and accountability – with TAA’s new Month of Motivation program.

To combat the challenges associated with personal goal setting and accountability felt by many academic authors, we have developed a month-long motivational email series that begins with a personal pledge to meet your writing goals. Simply share with us your goals, anticipated challenges, and what TAA can do to help you succeed, and we’ll help move you forward with daily email messages containing motivation, encouragement, and resources to advance your writing efforts all month long.

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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 5, 2021

As academics, we seek to gain and share knowledge, we look for answers and question the ones we know, and we encourage students and colleagues to continue learning and expanding their breadth of knowledge. But what happens when we don’t find an answer or, worse yet, don’t feel like we have the answer to give to someone else?

As academic and textbook authors, we are the authority – the knowledge source – in our discipline, so how could we possibly not have an answer to give, and if we don’t, then maybe we need to question whether we belong in that position of responsibility as a writer after all, don’t we? Lloyd Alexander once said, “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” In other words, the pursuit of knowledge (and the efforts we make to help others pursue knowledge) are actually of greater benefit than the knowledge itself.

This week’s collection of articles begins with some limiting beliefs of many writers, includes suggestions for developing your academic writing through process and practice, and ends with a modern suggestion for overcoming writer’s block. As you write this week, spend time looking (and helping others look) for answers rather than feeling as though you need to already have or provide the answers themselves. Happy writing!

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Are you stalling by revising too soon?

When we’ve squeezed out a few sentences, a paragraph, or page of the first draft of our current writing project, in our elation we may be tempted to go back and revise. The pull to polish is irresistible. So, we revisit those hard-won sentences and baby them into perfection. Then we sit back and bask with satisfaction.

But what do we have? Admittedly, a start, but really just a few sentences. We know we should have kept going with the fearsome task of confronting the blankness, but we yield. And often, our excitement in starting the piece dissipates, like steam out the open window. We sit there, staring or sighing, get up, and walk away to do something that eats into our writing time.

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Welcome new members to TAA: February 2021

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 171 new TAA members who joined us in February 2021. 

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Project management: Two free tools to increase efficiency in your writing projects

Project management was originally developed for civil engineering, but even if you are writing a book instead of building a bridge, there are useful approaches to borrow that will improve your work flow. In a previous article, I described that within project management, tools can be roughly divided into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” Project definition tools are those that help you determine the scope, the tasks, and the budget (i.e., time), whereas implementation tools are those that help you conduct the work. Here, I focus on the latter, and present two tools from the lens of project management for writing.

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TAA announces 2021 Textbook Award winners

2021 Textbook Awards by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). Six textbooks received William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Awards, nine textbooks received Textbook Excellence Awards, and ten textbooks received Most Promising New Textbook Awards.

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. The Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials.

The awardees will be recognized during an online textbook awards ceremony at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, March 19, 2021. The ceremony will be open to anyone who would like to help celebrate this year’s winners. Information about how to participate in the ceremony will be posted next week.

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Academic podcasting: The time is now

Podcasting is an easily produced, but powerful, medium to connect with potential or current textbook users, scholars in your discipline niche, readers of your work, and potential consulting clients. It can extend your brand and expand your professional network.

I have been mentioning in TAA media that now is great time—the very best time—to start an academic podcast. A hundred thousand new podcasts are being launched each month and podcast listenership is growing rapidly as mobile devices add native podcast apps, and platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Audible add podcasts to their offerings. We are just now at the point where “start a podcast” is about to overtake “start a blog” as a search term in Google Trends.

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Writing and systems: Beyond strategies, beyond tools

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2020 has ended. The year was exhausting and disrupting on so many levels. I watched my productivity hang on like a spider web in a hurricane, and my soul curl up inside, challenging assumptions, questioning most everything. Invariably, I thought quite a lot about my academic writing; I wrote very little. I thought more than I wrote, yes, but the thinking nurtured the writing, offered renewed perspectives. With these, hope revived. With hope, the deep satisfaction of having stayed the course, having written somethingeven if not enough – and been sustained by the writing habit, by the comfort and familiarity of a writing routine.

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Member Spotlight: Brian Shmaefsky

TAA Member Brian Shmaefsky is a Professor of Environmental Science and both a textbook and academic author writing in the disciplines of environmental science and human disease and anatomy. His most recent publication is Phytoremediation: In-Situ Applications.

What are you currently working on?

An environmental science textbook and several human disease books in a deadly diseases and epidemics series.

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Featured Member Paul Krieger – Working with small publishers, niche markets, and alternative publishing opportunities

Paul Krieger is an award-winning professor and the creator, author, and illustrator of Morton Publishing’s Visual Analogy Guide series. Due to the success of his first book on human anatomy in 2004 (now in its 5th edition), this unique book concept quickly evolved into a four-book series. He is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan and also works as a scientific illustrator.

Here Paul discusses the evolution of his writing career, including decisions about publishers, alternative publishing opportunities in the educational teaching materials market, and lessons learned through his years in the industry.

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