Reflections on academic writing: Three insights

Janet in GilaWhat do I need to write now? What will I write next? Who is expecting what from me, when? What related tasks do I need to complete, such as finalizing figures or posting to social media? How many commitments can I fit into each busy day? These are some of the questions that usually percolate through my mind. In this December Abstract post I committed to take some time for reflection. Here is the story, and lessons learned.

It seemed essential to step away from my home office workspace. I did so by taking a two-week road trip through the American Southwest. Instead of looking at a computer monitor, a panorama of mountains and desert unfolded before me. [Read more…]

Can I help you in any way? Essay writing

Can I help you in any way? Essay writing

“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real”. Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’ll highlight some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions. In this post, we’re focused on questions about strategies for writing academic essays.

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7 Myths about habit formation…busted

At the 31st annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Santa Fe, NM, TAA members Erin McTigue, Tracey Hodges, and Sharon Matthews presented a session titled, Moving from “Pesky” to “Productive”.

In this presentation they shared advice on developing a healthy, sustainable writing habit. To establish a growth mindset capable of accomplishing this goal, they acknowledged seven common myths about habit formation – and the reality of each.

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Understanding Creative Commons licensing

Whether you are publishing open access articles, working on open textbooks, or simply securing images for use in your manuscripts, chances are you will encounter the Creative Commons licensing model at some point.

Creative Commons (CC) licensing is a set of copyright options that allow for the retention of rights without maintaining the “all rights reserved” approach to traditional copyright protections. There are six forms of CC licenses, each with varying restrictions, and all requiring attribution to the original creator: CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC, CC BY-NC-SA, and CC BY-NC-ND. [Read more…]

Finding the balance: Tailoring more time for writing by adjusting teaching practices

Finding short bits of time to write during the week is usually a challenge for busy faculty. Teaching expectations are often urgent and very important while writing time is important but, usually not urgent. Yet, by being more focused and intentional with our time, even our teaching time, we can tailor our teaching practice to be able to fit in much more writing time.

Here are four practices that we have honed over the years that have enabled us to carve significantly more time in our schedules to dedicate to our writing projects. [Read more…]

Reflect and reboot

reflect and rebootIn my part of the world, the days are short and bright, and the nights are long and dark. Without the screen of leaves, without colors from leaves and flowers, the brilliant blue sky draws my attention. Along with these seasonal changes, we can’t help but notice that we’re on the last page of the calendar. This is a time for reflection.

Let’s face it, in the pre-smartphone days we had small reflective moments now fractured by sound bites and fragments of news or photos of elementary school friends’ new babies. How can we pull away long enough to reconsider the proverbial big picture? [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…]

AcWriMo 2018: A month in review

typing on a laptopEach November since 2011, academic writers from around the world have committed themselves to a month of forward progress in their personal academic writing efforts through an event known as AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month). To achieve greater levels of accountability and connectedness with other academics, many take to Twitter and other social media outlets to share their plans, challenges, accomplishments, and resources using the hashtag #AcWriMo.

While originally inspired by the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) concept, AcWriMo does not share the objective of completing a single project (i.e. a novel) in the 30 calendar days of November, but rather provides a means for focusing individuals on their own academic writing project(s) during that time. If you participated in AcWriMo 2018, we’d love to hear about your accomplishments in the comments below. If not, perhaps you can gain some inspiration from the documented efforts of others shared in this article. [Read more…]

From solo to global: AcWriMo

acwrimo - Twitter Search - mapWriting is usually a solitary activity. Staring at our monitors or notebooks, we wonder: is this brilliant or nuts? Is this straightforward and clear, or so simplistic that the reader will yawn? Have we written something that will entice the reader to follow our train of thought, or will they jump off with the next distraction? The way novelist Helen Garner described her work as a writer resonates with me:

the absolute inability, while you are working, to judge whether or not what you are doing has any value at all– thus the blind faith and grim stubbornness required in order to keep going; the episodes of elation, the occasional sense of hitting your stride, or of being in tune with the force that creates–the feeling that now you’ve got it, now you can’t put a foot wrong… [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…]