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…]

[Featured Members] Finding, chasing, and becoming rabbits: Learning from others on the road to the professoriate

Tracey Hodges and Katherine L. Wright

Tracey Hodges (L) and Katherine Wright (R)

TAA’s featured member profiles generally feature veteran textbook and academic authors and industry experts. In this issue we are delighted to feature two recent doctoral-recipients-turned-assistant-professors.

Tracey S. Hodges is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where she teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy courses. In addition, Tracey conducts research focusing on writing strategies, instruction with text structures, and content area literacy.

Katherine L. Wright is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University in the Department of Literacy, Language & Culture. Her research interests include reading and writing motivation, second language content-area literacy, writing-to-learn, and scientific literacy development. [Read more…]

Two more types of university friends you may have never thought of (part 2)

Don't be reticent in contacting fellow students and former professors.If you’re a graduate student struggling with your dissertation, you probably crave at least a few people who really understand and can help you get through the long and torturous journey. Many dissertation writers have confided to me as their editor and coach that their chairs and committee members, unfortunately, may not be the most supportive or nurturing. In Part 1 of this series, I recommended two types of individuals you may not have thought of who can be immense help: librarians and secretaries. Here I’ll suggest two more. [Read more…]

9 Ways to improve your academic writing style

writingWhen it comes to academia, the quality of your writing has a lot riding on it. Whether you are in university or are employed as a teacher and/or researcher, the work you produce can make or break your academic career.

Strong writing (and empirical content, of course) is a major factor in whether a paper you write will be published in a reputable journal. So before you begin drafting your next article, consider these 9 ways to improve your academic writing. [Read more…]

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…]

9 Questions to help you discover your writing working preferences

Your Working EnvironmentIt’s hard enough to start, much less continue, our writing, scholarly or otherwise. When we ask ourselves some important questions and act on the answers, we can more easily sneak up on the current project and get started.

The questions and answers are completely between us and us, and we have the best and only answers. Whatever other advice we’ve read or heard, however loudly others swear theirs is the only way, it’s our answers to ourselves that matter.

For my own writing and that of the dissertation- and article-producing clients I coach, I’ve found the following questions are the most crucial and tell us what we need to know about our working preferences. Answer the questions below and others that may arise to diagnose your perfect work environment. [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…]

How writers can use feedback effectively

FeedbackA good writing practice—a habit of coming back to work on your project regularly—is the foundation of good writing. One of the biggest challenges to many writing practices is to keep going after receiving difficult feedback. And perhaps an even bigger challenge is the fear of receiving feedback, which often contributes to writer’s block. If you’re submitting to a publisher, a journal, to your dissertation committee, or anyone else who might provide feedback, it will help if you feel like you can use the feedback you get effectively.

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

Dissertation support groups (part 2): Success!

SupportPreface: This is the second of two posts on dissertation support groups. In the previous piece, “Dissertation support groups (part 1): Watch out!”, I described several benefits and cautioned readers about drawbacks of a group. In this piece, I report on a successful group in the words of its founders and members. The philosophies and methods may help graduate students seeking support groups and faculty desiring to start them.

“I couldn’t write. I’d be in the library, staring at the portrait of the bearded benefactor, and the time would just tick by. That’s when I decided to join the group.”

This member of a dissertation support group was not alone in her dilemma. [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…]