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…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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…]