How to smash an unexpected block: When the writing’s going well

No negative thoughts allowedWe’ve all probably read articles about writer’s block that stumps and paralyzes, but several writers I know have experienced another unexpected and surprising block. One described it: “My fingers play the computer keyboard like a concert pianist, my pages pile up like gold. ‘Wow, I think, I’m gonna go all night!’”

Then he confessed, “‘Faster than a form rejection, more powerful than an editor’s frown, able to freeze me in a single flash, a horrible thought darkens my brain: I can’t stand it anymore!’”

What? The writing was going just too well. [Read more…]

How to develop a great webinar to promote your book

webinarA webinar is an excellent promotional tool for your books, work, and services. Combining PowerPoint slides and audio on a subject to which viewers/listeners plug in on the Internet, a webinar delivers valuable information and shows you’re the one to deliver more. But to accomplish this purpose, you’ve gotta do it well. As the proud veteran of one webinar (I blush to admit with some excellent feedback), here I’ll share some points about designing and delivering an excellent webinar.

For the webinar on my book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), I had wonderful help and structure from the publisher’s promotion director. But you can achieve similar results alone or with a few seasoned colleagues. In any case, the steps are similar. [Read more…]

Meditation and mindfulness for your major project

mindfulness meditationMay I suggest using spiritual principles or practices in your important academic project? “What!” you cry, “Academics and religion/spirituality don’t mix, like ice cream and boiled kidney!”

But . . . as you wrestle with your Major Work, do you crave less anxiety, more confidence, better work flow, even real answers to all those knotty quandaries?

Meditation and mindfulness can help. In my academic coaching practice, I’ve found, to my surprise, that many graduate students in their dissertations and professors in their articles use spiritual methods to help them through the Purgatory of academic writing. And I encourage them, primarily in two ways—meditation and mindfulness. [Read more…]

My life as an alt-academic

writingI learned the term alt-academic (or alt-ac for the trendy) only recently. A colleague told me she wanted to do a book on PhDs who chose not to join “the academy.” In today’s economic climate, university positions for academics with advanced degrees seem more coveted and harder to get than ever. So they seek alt employment.

An Almost Evergreen Topic

The topic is hardly new and continues to be viable. In 2001, the first edition of So What Are You Going to Do With That? Finding Careers Outside Academia by Susan Basalla May, PhD, and Maggie Debelius, PhD, was published, and the third edition came out in 2014. [Read more…]

How not to complete your dissertation

Woman heroFrom my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have noticed that women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to a dissertation.

Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories of doctoral candidates (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you are a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions prevent the completion of your dreamed-of doctorate. [Read more…]

Learning from teaching in the anxiety zone

AnxietyI knew I had to do it. For too long I’d sat planted in front of my computer and wallowed in my old-quilt routine: writing, eating, tv-ing, sleeping, client manuscripts, gym, occasional grocery stocking, writing, eating, clients, tv-ing, sleeping. But I couldn’t deny that edge of vague dissatisfaction.

What do the gurus say? Stretch yourself, challenge yourself, get out of your comfort cocoon. It was time to get out and teach a writing workshop. [Read more…]

To rejuvenate, consider closing your writing shop

ClosedAre you dragging when you think about your current writing project, or writing itself? Do you long to regain that old surge and rush of excitement? Maybe, like companies that close temporarily for renovation or universities that close for a holiday break, you need to close your writing shop for some needed rejuvenation.

It’s tough, I know. When we think of closing, even for a little while, reams of ingenious excuses rear up. Any of these sound familiar? [Read more…]

10 Remedies for mid-book slog

It's book o'clockWhen the contract arrived for my book Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation, I levitated and floated on the ceiling. My proposal had been accepted, my outline was complete, and my files of notes overflowed. I dove into the full book head-on, bounding out of bed early every day, even Sunday. With not a single email detour, I clicked the manuscript onto the screen and started typing. I would easily make the agreed-on publisher’s deadline.

And then it hit. Three months in, I should have been barreling along. But I dragged out of bed, succumbed to at least an hour of home-page clicking, read every word of emails selling everything, and with lukewarm attention, perused writing sites. After way too long, I pecked a phrase, deleted it, pecked another, almost cried. My malady: mid-book slog. [Read more…]

For doctoral students – Your relationship with your chair: Too chummy or too distant?

relationshipIf you’re at the dissertation writing stage, your most important relationship (other than the one with your chocolate/peanut butter cups stash) is that with your chair/advisor/first reader. Your chair can be your best friend or worst nemesis. But there’s no getting around it; if you want to get done, finally, and graduate with those proud letters after your name, you need your chair.

When your chair is friendly, forthcoming, and responsive, you may be tempted to become friends. When your chair is too formal and standoffish, you may be tempted to ignore him or her entirely, or as much as the required paperwork allows. Either extreme is a mistake, and you’ll likely regret it later. [Read more…]

Friends – How to deal with their negative responses to your academic projects

friendsNote: This is the second of two posts on dealing with friends who may not understand your commitment to your academic project.

Friends are, well, friends, and we have every right to expect their support and encouragement. Most of the time they are for us, but sometimes, to our shock, they turn in the other direction after we share our academic aspirations, goals, accomplishments, and next projects. [Read more…]