A delicate balance: Humility and self-respect

Whether you are a doctoral student wrestling the drafts of your dissertation or an academic author wrestling with the drafts of your book, you have encountered, or will, the often-intimidating presence and feedback of your chair or editor. As with any interpersonal relationship, it’s advisable to steer between abject obeisance and independent arrogance. Neither will get you what you want—approval of your dissertation or publication of your book.

In my academic editing and coaching profession, I suggest to clients that an optimum way to establish and maintain a good working relationship is a combination of humility and self-respect. Whatever your past accomplishments, humility before the perceived power of the chair or editor is required.

How not to complete your dissertation

From my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have noticed that women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to a dissertation.

Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories of doctoral candidates (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you are a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions complete your dreamed-of doctorate.

Five ways to fix your unrealistic to-do list

It’s a few weeks into the semester and you might feel as if you’re already behind. There was a project you wanted to finish, but somehow you didn’t. You feel disappointed and discouraged. If you’re already behind, how will you achieve all the goals you’ve established for the semester?

You may have grand plans to start this year off better than the last. Your intention is to make up for all the work you didn’t complete in December, and then some. For academics, we not only have a new year, but a new semester – a fresh start on multiple counts.

To rejuvenate, consider closing your writing shop

Are you dragging when you think about your current writing project, or writing itself? Do you long to regain that old surge and rush of excitement? Maybe, like companies that close temporarily for renovation or universities that close for a holiday break, you need to close your writing shop for some needed rejuvenation.

It’s tough, I know. When we think of closing, even for a little while, a heap of ingenious excuses rear up. Any of these sound familiar?

How to minimize distractions and disruptions while writing

Unlike most writing disciplines, textbook and academic writing must be balanced with the distractions and disruptions of the many demands of academic life, including teaching, committee assignments, and research.

Five TAA members share how they minimize distractions and disruptions while writing, including how they eliminate electronic distractions, make time for writing, use music to focus, and edit later.