Words matter: Guidelines for pronoun usage

writing flowThere exists no attribute more central to the human condition than one’s identity. Our identity – whether it is cultural, professional, ethnic and national, religious, gender, or disability – is a central tenet of representation. It affects how we communicate with others and our communication about others. Thus, it is important that we as scholarly writers and professionals are as cognizant of the identities of our audience as we are of our own. [Read more…]

Crafting compelling and purposeful titles: A five step process

Light bulb thinkingAlthough the old adage states “you can’t tell a book by its cover”, in academic writing it is crucial that the title of an article or book “tell” the essence of the work. The title is the first critical decision point for a reader. Its goal is to invite the reader to peruse the abstract, read the article, and, hopefully, cite your work.

The title does a lot of work for your manuscript, and there are many good reasons to pay attention to crafting short, content-rich, and engaging titles. First, for you, the author, spending time crafting a title forces you to distill your detailed, multi-page manuscript into 10 to 15 words, a daunting task. Yet, through this process you can gain clarity on your topic, enabling you to hone your discussion points and potentially your writing as well. [Read more…]

Inclusion means including everyone

Kevin Patton, TAA Vice President

As authors who have recommitted ourselves to the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our professional lives, one of the many struggles we face is making access to our content inclusive. However inclusive of race, gender, age, and other aspects of humanity our writing is, it is important to also ask ourselves whether all potential readers are able to access it.

As an author, I have often left accessibility issues completely in the hands the professionals among our publishing team. However, I realize more and more that, in many ways, that sort of inclusion starts with me. [Read more…]

Permission granted! But not the kind you think.

yes written in the sandPermission conjures up the image of asking a publisher to use a table or a photo from their publication in your next journal article. This post is not about those types of permission, but rather about the permission you give yourself.

We have all read too many articles (including mine) about how things have changed over the past year. Time challenges. Financial challenges. Changing and increasing demands in the classroom. Emotional rollercoasters. Pressure. The ground under us appears to be constantly shifting.

You need to take this all into account and be good with giving yourself permission. [Read more…]

How virtual choir rehearsal helped me clarify my writing voice

I became interested in knowing more about my writing voice when I received feedback on a draft of my first book chapter. My voice, my writing coach said, was not as clear as when I speak. Why not? I wondered. It seemed clear to me. This feedback and several discussions about my voice made me more attentive to my voice while drafting two book chapters over last summer and early fall. I asked myself how I sounded to my reader. I began practicing reading my drafts aloud to hear how I sounded, and I was pleased my writing voice was becoming more distinct. I was getting to know my writing voice, I thought. [Read more…]

In between writer and author

writing deskHave you heard the recent song from American Idol and country music singer, Scotty McCreery? It’s called “In Between” and it’s a fun song that I think a lot of people can identify with because we tend to see ourselves as not all of one particular thing or another. It’s also quite fitting in a world where we often label people in a specific way and once identified as such, find it that much harder to see them as anything different.

As many problems such thinking can cause in our world of relationships, it can be that much more devastating when labels or identification is self-imposed, especially when that assigned identity is less than what we want to be known for. This is particularly true for authors (whether early in their career or even sometimes after being published) where we are quick to claim the title of “writer” but slow to call ourselves an “author”. Even more often, it seems that we identify somewhere “in between”.

So what are you? Are you a writer? Are you an author? Or are you somewhere in between? [Read more…]

Spring Your Writing Forward: Get a Month of Motivation in April

Accomplish your academic writing goals by focusing on two areas of academic writing that many authors tend to struggle with – isolation and accountability – with TAA’s new Month of Motivation program.

To combat the challenges associated with personal goal setting and accountability felt by many academic authors, we have developed a month-long motivational email series that begins with a personal pledge to meet your writing goals. Simply share with us your goals, anticipated challenges, and what TAA can do to help you succeed, and we’ll help move you forward with daily email messages containing motivation, encouragement, and resources to advance your writing efforts all month long. [Read more…]

Are you stalling by revising too soon?

writing linesWhen we’ve squeezed out a few sentences, a paragraph, or page of the first draft of our current writing project, in our elation we may be tempted to go back and revise. The pull to polish is irresistible. So, we revisit those hard-won sentences and baby them into perfection. Then we sit back and bask with satisfaction.

But what do we have? Admittedly, a start, but really just a few sentences. We know we should have kept going with the fearsome task of confronting the blankness, but we yield. And often, our excitement in starting the piece dissipates, like steam out the open window. We sit there, staring or sighing, get up, and walk away to do something that eats into our writing time. [Read more…]

Writing and systems: Beyond strategies, beyond tools

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2020 has ended. The year was exhausting and disrupting on so many levels. I watched my productivity hang on like a spider web in a hurricane, and my soul curl up inside, challenging assumptions, questioning most everything. Invariably, I thought quite a lot about my academic writing; I wrote very little. I thought more than I wrote, yes, but the thinking nurtured the writing, offered renewed perspectives. With these, hope revived. With hope, the deep satisfaction of having stayed the course, having written somethingeven if not enough – and been sustained by the writing habit, by the comfort and familiarity of a writing routine. [Read more…]

Specifying the end: Project management as applied to writing

Is project management really an essential writing process? While academic authors certainly recognize that writing requires many unique processes, each deserving attention, we rarely think beyond research, drafting, and revision. Yet, how well we manage projects can make or break the outcome. Case in point, if you miss the deadline for a special issue, it hardly matters how well your paper was aligned with the editor’s vision! Even when outcomes are not so dire, project management allows you to work in a calmer and less reactive manner, thus allowing for greater creativity.

Within formal project management, the tools can be roughly broken into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” In general, project definition tools are procedures that help you determine the scope, the tasks, the time frame, and the budget (i.e., time). Implementation tools are those that help you work smoothly. Here I focus on the former. [Read more…]