Allowing our writing creative limbo

Whenever I start a new piece of writing, despite many such starts, I’m often gripped by panic. I still look forward to capturing a new idea on the page, but I freeze. Thinking hard, I finally saw why: it’s the feeling of unknowing.

Whether I’ve scribbled a handful of notes in a frenzy of inspiration or actually made an outline, that same itchy, unsteady, slightly nauseous feeling pervades. Not exactly illness or a full-blown block, it’s more of a nervous disquiet I can only describe as “creative limbo.” Doesn’t matter how often I’ve felt it or many pieces I’ve started and completed. It rears up.

Five surprising business lessons for writers

Like most writers, I keep bumping up against, and avoiding, articles on how to treat my writing more like a business. I know I should pay more attention to the articles, but they always seem to interrupt precious writing time. In an infrequent browse through an older business publication, though, I stumbled on an article that didn’t give me administrative agita. Even deep 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 here from Strain’s evergreen article remind us what we need to do not only to become rich (yes, it’s possible) but to stay true to our writing potential, creativity, and drive.

4/7 TAA Webinar – Beyond Productivity: How to Build a Joyful Writing Practice

Are you tired of feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or unconfident as a writer? Do you long to recover your love of inquiry and cultivate a joyful relationship with your writing?

Join us Thursday, April 7, 2022, 1-2 p.m. EST, “Beyond Productivity: How to Build a Joyful Writing Practice”, presented by Michelle Boyd of InkWell Academic Writing Retreats. In this one-hour webinar, she will explain why writing is so emotionally taxing, describe how scholars can use social writing to overcome their writing fears. By the end of the session, each scholar will better understand their own barriers and have a step-by-step plan for implementing their personalized social writing strategy.

Finding hidden pockets of time in your grading: when more is less and less is more

This is the third article in this series on finding hidden and unexpected pockets of time to write within your tried-and-true teaching practices. By paying more attention to what we do when we teach, we can spend less time teaching and more time writing without sacrificing quality feedback. Last edition, I wrote about how to streamline student feedback; in this article I will focus on streamlining how you grade student work. In the next and final article of this series, I will explore several ways to enlist student help in meeting your own writing goals while providing a role model as a scholar.

Need help with a writing project? Sign up for a one-hour editing or coaching session from TAA

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TAA members can apply to receive a one-hour editing or coaching session from one of our professional editor or coach partners. You can accomplish a lot in one hour! Get a partial copyedit or developmental edit of several pages of your academic journal article or book chapter, or receive one-on-one coaching to help you over a hurdle with your project.

Members must be in good standing to apply for a session. Applications are being accepted between September 1 and December 31. The September application deadline is the 30th and sessions will be awarded October 11. Learn more or apply

Scholars, balance between humility and self-respect

Whether you’re a doctoral student wrestling with the drafts of your dissertation or an academic author wrestling with the drafts of your article or book, you probably 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 scholarly work.

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. Not that you must kowtow; they’ll know you’re toadying. Some students and authors have stellar long-term experience, titles, and positions, and likely make more annually than their chairs or editors, not to mention owning lavish summer homes. Nevertheless, humility is called for with the dissertation chair or editor. Not easy, I know.