6 Techniques to jumpstart writing efficiency and productivity

Vintage typewriterIn our writing projects—dissertation, article, book, presentation—after the first brilliant idea or paragraphs of exhilarated creation, our enthusiasm may turn to mud. From my own experiences with tortured writing and those of my academic coaching and editing clients, I recommend the following six techniques, with credible rationales, to help you work more efficiently and write more productively.

1) Make Separate Files

As simplistic as it seems, start by making separate files for each part of the work—prefatory pages, introduction, chapters, sections, reference list, appendices. Refer to your university handbook, journal specs, or publisher’s requirements to construct your file in the correct format. If a template is provided, use it. Later, you’ll combine all files for the finished work. [Read more…]

Join us 11/18 for the TAA webinar ‘Becoming a Productive Writer: Strategies for Success’

Rachael CayleyWhy does it seem like there’s never enough time to write? One of the key challenges of academic life is balancing the many demands on our time; while writing is generally key to professional success, finding time to write is consistently challenging. Most academics realize that they need to protect their writing time but still struggle to do so. Rather than seeing not-writing as a simple failure, it can be helpful to see it as a reflection of the inherent difficulties of writing and time management.

Join us Friday, November 18 from 12-1 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Becoming a Productive Writer: Strategies for Success,” where presenter Rachael Cayley, who blogs at Explorations of Style and tweets at @explorstyle, will discuss how and why academic writing is so hard and look at some strategies for establishing a productive writing practice.
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Make it happen: 6 Strategies to improve productivity

productivityLike many members of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association, I hold a tenure-track position which includes—for the most part—the usual expectations. Scholarship is particularly important, with peer-reviewed publication the expected outcome of my research. Service to the profession is important, but less so. In my current position (Director of Public Services, Evans Library, Texas A&M University), I do not teach, but I am expected to demonstrate excellence in the performance of my duties. These duties, in my case, include leading about thirty-five employees who staff three service desks in two buildings (one of which is open twenty-four hours, five days per week). It is very challenging to oversee a busy public services unit and maintain a research agenda that will result in a sufficient number of publications to satisfy the University Libraries’ Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure. [Read more…]

Join us 9/27 at 12 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, ‘The 10 Habits of Highly Productive Academic Writers’

Gina HiattOne of academia’s secrets is that most people struggle to get enough writing done. This is partly because they believe some heinous myths about writing, and also because they don’t know the correct habits. On top of that, scholarly writers are often quite anxious – about failure, about not writing enough, and about their careers. They frequently are perfectionists, but perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads to paralysis.

Join us Tuesday, September 27, from 12-1 p.m. ET, for the TAA Webinar, “The 10 Habits of Highly Productive Academic Writers”. Dr. Gina J. Hiatt, Founder and President of Academic Ladder® Inc., will show you how some simple changes in your habits will lead to big payoffs in your writing productivity and creativity. [Read more…]

Take breaks before you’re broken

Break timeThe obsession with work seems embedded not only into our current civilization but also into academic pursuits. We are all focused, dedicated, committed, even driven in our scholarly work. We live, breathe, almost eat our work, or always eat while we work.

You may have noticed that many scholars self-righteously announce (I too am guilty), “Oh, I work all the time. Of course, I work every weekend.” Our working compulsion may be motivated by any number of worries. A few—the lurking impostor syndrome, feeling that time is running out, others’ propagating vitae, some upstart new PhD on our heels, tenure just beyond our grasp.

But working all the time has a price. Often an unsettling sense creeps in, something like discontent, dissatisfaction, weariness, frustration, restlessness, and even futility. This is a warning sign that, most often, you’ve lost perspective. You need a break. [Read more…]

Two new templates added to TAA’s Templates & Samples Resource Library

Templates and SamplesTwo new templates have been added to TAA’s Templates & Samples Resource Library – a Workflow Chart Template, and a Royalty Tracking Template.

The Workflow Chart Template was contributed by Kevin Patton, author of Anatomy & Physiology (9e), who uses it to track his workflow. Available in both landscape and portrait, each row is a chapter or section and columns track items such as chapter number/title, research, reviews, copyedited draft, etc. [Read more…]

Writers: Don’t get caught in the ‘downward spiral’

Getting the Best of Your Dissertation

A good writing practice is the foundation of good writing. A good practice is built on regular action, and depends on the ideas or perspectives that lead to effective action. When faced with a large writing project, it is important to look at the relationship between your work practice and your emotions. Today’s actions influence tomorrow’s approach to the project, and work today can make it easier to work tomorrow.

The following is a slightly edited excerpt from my book, Getting the Best of Your Dissertation: Practical Perspectives for Effective Research: [Read more…]

Textbook award-winning insight (part 2): Scheduling writing time and getting involved in marketing

2016 TAA Textbook Award QA
A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to winners of the 2016 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. I had so many great responses I decided to create a three-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, how they got started, and what they do to boost their confidence as a writer.

This second installment in the three-part series focuses on how they fit writing time into their schedule, what software they use, what their favorite pedagogical elements are, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read more…]

Holiday strategies to honor your all-important academic project

Holiday InvitationThe holidays can be wonderful times for reconnecting with family and friends, taking breathers from the daily-weekly-yearly chase of accomplishment, kindling or rekindling feelings of love, warmth, and generosity even to those who have published much more than you, and indulging in delectable seasonal goodies. But we academics often feel conflicted about how much time to “take off.” Maybe we’re feeling the pressure of having to participate in holiday events. Maybe we’re worried about being grilled by well-intentioned family or friends about the progress of our dissertation, article, or book. Maybe we’re very aware of the dangerous loss of momentum from our work. Maybe we just don’t like all those jolly gatherings.

Here, from clients who have suffered through such “maybes,” I suggest three holiday strategies you can apply, depending on the severity of your “maybes” and your fortitude. We don’t have to be at the mercy of the holidays!  [Read more…]

The top 10 reasons we don’t reach our goals (And how you can banish them!)

goals cauldronIt’s October, so it’s a good time to get a little witchy. Imagine we are under a clear and starry sky at night. Let’s add a cauldron into the picture.

Come circle around it with me.

Together we are going to cook up the foulest stew you have ever tasted. The ingredients will be all the reasons why people don’t reach their goals. We will throw them in one by one. Watch, as we do, how the brew starts to bubble and smoke. [Read more…]