Lemonade stand writing lessons: Honesty and kindness

lemonade standMy friend Jon invited me to the summer tenth birthday party of his daughter at their condo lawn near the pool. As his wife placed after-candles cake slices in front of us, Lisbeth exclaimed, “Dad! I don’t have school for the whole summer! How about doing a lemonade stand!”

I looked at Jon’s face—it registered dismay, knowing he’d have to shepherd the project. Then he smiled enthusiastically. [Read more…]

To keep writing, use a time log

time log“What did I do today!” you wail. For the life of you, wiped out at the end of the day and ready for binge TV, you can’t remember anything you did except overeat for lunch. Maybe you recall writing for eight minutes midmorning and half-heartedly pecking at your journal article in progress, but otherwise the day’s a blank. And paradoxically, you feel you’re always so busy, dashing from one thing to the next and never getting it all done.

Sound familiar? Where does the time go? Especially for academic writers, with the responsibilities of teaching, mandatory committee meetings, office hours, reading endless memos, emailing responses, and comforting a colleague who just got her article rejected—again—it’s an ongoing challenge to take hold and wrestle our writing time to the ground, or desk.

I found a remedy, though, that you may have read about: keep a time log. [Read more…]

Should we succumb to ‘the mood’ to write?

writing moodsWe all have trouble getting to the desk. Loads of articles, blogs, chapters, and seminars by writers for writers advise how to get to it, stay at it, and finish the damn thing. And some of them help, like Schumann’s (2019) dictum to do fifteen minutes a day or the pomodoro method (Cirillo, 2018) of twenty-five minutes on, five off. Schumann and others also counsel that inspiration is a cheat. If you believe you must wait to write until the right mood strikes, you’ll never get much done. Many writers nevertheless persist in this myth, supporting it with impressive rationales.

Some blame external circumstances: [Read more…]

Crushing our creative guilt

creativityMany of us feel a strong calling to express our talents—in the academic and literary arts, music, dance, media, crafts, sciences, or any other field. In my profession of writing, almost every writer I know feels guilty for not writing enough, producing enough, and sending out enough pieces. But for “creatives,” as spiritual creativity guru Julia Cameron (1992, p. 33) labels us all, I’ve recognized another unproductive, thwarting, and possibly paradoxical self-recrimination. [Read more…]

Beyond time management: Three principles for greater writing productivity and satisfaction

productivityFor our writing productivity and fulfillment, indisputably we need time management, self-discipline, and all the pomodoros (Cirillo, 2018) we can muster. Sometimes, though, as ardently as we apply these, they don’t seem to be enough. Here are three perspectives that may help you through. They are “laws” described simply and eloquently by author, speaker, and spiritual and practical teacher Deepak Chopra (1994) in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.
[Read more…]

Quandaries in your academic project? Use your inner mentor

you as academic mentorMost of us probably had mentors in graduate school and may still maintain contact with them. But they may not be available every time we need their advice or guidance. I suggest that we all have a mentor that is always available, night and day, every season and semester, for every situation and circumstance.

The IM

This is your Inner Mentor (IM), also called your inner guide, self, voice, spirit, higher power, soul, subconscious, guidance system, intuition, even your heart or gut. It has more power than your department or committee chair, the dean of your school, and even the guy who issues your annual parking sticker. [Read more…]

5 Surprising lessons for writers from the business world

Open for BusinessLike most writers, I keep bumping up against articles on how to treat my writing more like a business. And probably like many writers, I rebel at this advice, always trying to pry more time for the writing itself. But in an infrequent browse through an older business publication, I stumbled on an article that didn’t give me administrative agita. Even immersed in creative bliss, a writer can hardly resist the title: “Ten Traits That Make You Filthy-Rich” by Jeffrey Strain (TheStreet.com, February 1, 2008).

The five points I discuss here from Strain’s evergreen article  may be new to writers. The parallels remind us what we need to do not only to become rich (yes, it’s possible) but to stay true to our writing potential. (Strain’s traits are in italics.)   [Read more…]

Three unmistakable signs you need to revise

revisionBetween bouts of hating what we write, we may secretly admire our creations. And we’re entitled to. But there’s a difference between these feelings and excessive love of our own words. Such love blinds us to editorial blunders, judicious cutting, and revision, and reduces the possibilities of publication. [Read more…]

19 Reasons to start a journal

JournalingA journal is a time-honored writer’s tool to record and develop ideas, work out projects and plots, and save meaningful aphorisms and perfect overheard phrases. We can use a journal for these, other issues, and any aspect of our writing. Whether you’ve kept a journal for decades, or have never started one, consider these tips not only to help you write more but also to make your writing more effective. [Read more…]

Time and friendship and writing

friendship and writingAs I’ve chosen to reduce socializing in favor of more writing time, I’ve also chosen to keep up or reconnect with a very few friends and realize an essential characteristic of friendship: time doesn’t matter. However long the moments, weeks, or years between contacts, real friendship knows no steel-banded boundaries of time, distance, erratic mobile phone connections, or sporadic emails.

I recall a friend of twenty years ago who lived nearby, and I still cherish our many calls and visits. When we both moved, our interests diverged, and contact ended. [Read more…]