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…]

5 Reasons to aim for brevity

Getting the Best of Your DissertationA 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 planning a writing project, one effective idea is to aim for brevity: keep your work short.

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

Quote or paraphrase? Three tips from a pro

quotesIt’s a pity when surface problems scuttle otherwise strong scholarship. As an academic editor, I’ve noticed that poorly handled quotations are particularly damning. Inelegant use of prior scholarship can give the impression that a writer is unsophisticated, or even amateur.

Naturally, research does involve mining books and articles to inform our own arguments, which are ideally novel and substantial but still reference that prior work. Often there may be temptation to repurpose existing literature that seems to say exactly what needs to be said in order to get to ideas that are original. It can certainly be difficult to think around the particular ways in which influential scholars have formulated cornerstone concepts. [Read more…]

11 Tricks and tips to get those words on a page

Writer's BlockWhether we’re in the throes of a dissertation, article, or book, most of us have trouble writing—starting, continuing, finishing. Especially after our original flush of enthusiasm and amazed production at the first few paragraphs or pages, we find that each of our writing projects carries its own problems.

From my own experiences with tortured writing and those of my academic coaching and editing clients, here I’ll share eleven tricks and tips to help you ease into or continue your writing. If you need convincing, included too are credible rationales for how each method can help you. [Read more…]

From the other side of the draft

draftI generally empathize with beleaguered graduate students who are wrestling with their dissertations. Most doctoral candidates seem to get little support from their chairs in guidance, writing, or cheering on. However, exceptions exist . . . .

A student recently sent me a heartfelt communication from a chair to his dissertation group. This chair, unlike many others, held bimonthly meetings with his students in the throes of their dissertations or gingerly approaching them. I was impressed by the forthrightness of this professor and the caring he showed in insisting that his students measure up. The chair—I’ll name him Professor Bellows—shared several important “gripes” we can all learn from. [Read more…]