The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research

The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your researchIn the first two articles of this series, we explored The What: Defining a research project and The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment. In this article, we are focused on The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research. Discussion from this TweetChat event focused on accurately estimating the amount of time necessary for completing writing projects and strategies to better manage the time commitments during the writing project.

Q1/1a: Do you regularly track the time spent on research efforts? When planning a research project, do you tend to accurately predict, overestimate, or underestimate the time required? [Read more…]

The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment

The Where: Constructing an effective writing environmentOnce you know what you need to work on, establishing an environment with the right atmosphere, tools, and resources necessary for completing the project is equally important. In the previous article, we explored the first W – The What: Defining a research project.

In this article, we will focus on The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment. This discussion began with a self-reporting of participant writing environments and continued with discussion of ways to improve them.

Q1: How would you describe your current writing environment? [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…]

The What: Defining a research project

The What: Defining a research projectDuring Academic Writing Month 2018, TAA hosted a series of #AcWriChat TweetChat events focused on the five W’s of academic writing. Throughout the series we explored The What: Defining a research project; The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment; The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research; The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literature; and The Why: Explaining the significance of your research. This series of posts brings together the discussions and resources from those events. Let’s start with The What: Defining a research project.

Before moving forward on any academic writing effort, it is important to understand what the research project is intended to understand and document. In order to accomplish this, it’s also important to understand what a research project is. This is where we began our discussion of the five W’s of academic writing. [Read more…]

3/25 TAA Webinar: “How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic”

Rose ErnstAngelique DavisDo you juggle multiple teaching, scholarship and service projects and worry about ‘dropping the ball’? Do you wish you had one place to easily organize your life as an academic? Then Trello might be for you. Join us Monday, March 25 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic, where Angelique M. Davis and Rose Ernst, both associate professors of political science at Seattle University, will provide an overview of the magic and logic of Trello. They will show you how to use it to masterfully manage multiple projects in one place—without having to switch between paper and multiple digital programs! They will also show you how to use Trello to move your scholarly projects forward. This will include a demonstration and template of a Trello board based on Erin Furtak’s publishing pipeline. You will leave this webinar with a plan to set up your Trello account so you can become a master juggler and calmly manage your academic life. [Read more…]

Q&A: What types of services do university libraries offer to support faculty authors?

Faculty enjoy a break during the winter 2019 Writers Retreat and workshop hosted by William & Mary Libraries.

University librarians offer a wide range of services to faculty and students to support their research and scholarly writing projects. Many of these services are used widely by faculty on campuses across the country, while other services may be little known and little used. As dean of libraries at William and Mary, I make it a priority to work with library staff and faculty to identify needs, develop useful services, and then communicate their availability to faculty. Here I highlight a few of our library services and suggest how faculty at other institutions can work with their university librarians to access services and support. [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…]

Learning as I go: Running into happiness

Personal writing projectWhen I was a PhD student, I found that my academic commitments were throwing off my work life balance, and I wanted to do something about it. My answer, as funny as this sounds, was to add another writing project to my workload, but this was a personal writing project. I wrote and published a book, Running into Happiness, during my busy life as a PhD student!

On my journey, I learned that including a personal writing project in my writing program offered me added benefits. It helped me further develop my writing and productivity skills, and provided me more opportunities to practice my writing regularly. As I learned from Patricia Goodson in her book Becoming an Academic Writer, deliberate practice improves our writing and productivity levels. [Read more…]

Getting early feedback on your writing: Turning good into great

dance floorSharing your writing in its early forms can cause anxiety. I liken it to going to a middle school dance. It seems like a good idea, but it is laced with a fear of rejection and insecurity.

Developing positive habits early in your writing career, however, are important. Seeking feedback makes writers better and more confident.  Here are six ideas to help move you toward embracing the valuable feedback loop: [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…]