Project management: Two free tools to increase efficiency in your writing projects

Project management was originally developed for civil engineering, but even if you are writing a book instead of building a bridge, there are useful approaches to borrow that will improve your work flow. In a previous article, I described that within project management, tools can be roughly divided into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” Project definition tools are those that help you determine the scope, the tasks, and the budget (i.e., time), whereas implementation tools are those that help you conduct the work. Here, I focus on the latter, and present two tools from the lens of project management for writing. [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…]

3/11 TAA Webinar: “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help”

PublishedThomas DeetjenDo you struggle to describe your research in writing? Like your crisp research vision inevitably devolves into a disorganized, confusing journal article? Let’s discuss a tool that can help—one with which you’re already familiar, but likely not familiar enough: journal article structure.

Join us Wednesday, March 11 at 1 p.m. ET for the 30-minute webinar, “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help,” where Thomas Deetjen, author of Published, will explore the value of the Introduction, Methods, Results & Discussion—or IMRaD—journal article structure. [Read more…]

Stepping gingerly into 2021: Molding our future

Laura FrostAt the end of the fall semester, I looked out at my students taking their final exam in masks—sitting in a room at half capacity with social distancing in effect, barely recognizing them—and I couldn’t help but wonder what their future holds.

The same question I ask my students at the conclusion of every class, I now ask myself about 2020: “What have I learned?” I learned that we can mold and change our future, all we have to do is fight for the things we believe in (nod to RBG). I learned that there are many heroes among us. Our health care and other essential workers have put their lives on the line, our scientific community raced to produce life-saving vaccines, our educators put their own lives at risk to keep our children engaged, and by many screaming loudly, we may finally advance some social justice issues. I have to believe that the many heroic efforts that took place in 2020 will result in change for the overall good of humanity. [Read more…]

Busy TAA People: Steve Barkan

Critical CriminologySteven BarkanAn article by TAA member and former Council President Steve Barkan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UMaine, and Michael Rocque, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bates College and a UMaine sociology alumnus, received the 2020 Outstanding Contribution Award from the Division of Biopsychosocial Criminology of the American Society of Criminology.

The article, published in Critical Criminology in 2018, is entitled, “Socioeconomic Status and Racism as Fundamental Causes of Street Criminality” [26(2):211-231]

The Award recognizes an outstanding contribution (journal article or book) in the field of biopsychosocial criminology by a scholar who has completed their Ph.D.

Round up all those stampeding ideas

lots of ideasDo ideas flood your brain like a herd gone wild? Do you flail around, physically and metaphorically, trying to corral them and drive them into the barn? Are you going mad trying to figure out how to use them all?

I am almost constantly barraged by ideas for essays, stories, poems, novel slivers, quirky descriptions, and metaphoric pearls. Ideas surface everywhere: as I edit clients’ manuscripts, wash dishes, huff through workouts, wait on line, watch people, meditate, fall asleep, and even during tactful small talk at business dinners.

All the deluging ideas used to make me groan. Sometimes I’d even feel envious of writers who complained about their sparse fits of inspiration. I’d grouse internally that my ideas never seemed to stop. How would I ever get to them all, much less organize them or make something of them? Most would end up in a mass of ragged notes or on scraps stuffed under the scanner. [Read more…]

Time Management Survey respondents cite prioritization, procrastination issues as biggest challenges

Time ManagementAs part of writing coach Mary Beth Averill’s TAA webinar on time management this month, we surveyed members anonymously on their time management challenges.

When asked what they saw as their biggest time management challenges, respondents highlighted scheduling, exhaustion, estimating how long their projects will take, and prioritizing. One person wrote, “waiting to the last minute and finding the project is bigger than I anticipated.” Another pointed out time of day: “First thing in morning: rituals of Internet headlines and email checking.” And, as academics, they have to answer to competing priorities: “The amount of service work required in academic work. Calculating how much time it takes to do things. Prioritizing my own work.” [Read more…]

How to shut down your inner editor

Inner editorIt can blare out while you’re working on any piece, anytime, anywhere. You’re writing along like butter, and suddenly a stomach-wrenching jolt slams you up against a concrete wall. That thunderous voice in your head rebukes: “THAT’S THE WORST, MOST HORRIBLE, STUPID PHRASE SINCE . . . .” And you’re paralyzed.

Take heart. Such a message doesn’t have to plunge you into a full block. Recognize it for what it is—your ever-present inner editor, often old programming, maybe residue of parental strictures, telling you that you shouldn’t be writing, you’ll never be a writer, and you might as well go sell burner phones (if that’s not your day job already). [Read more…]

11/5 TAA Webinar: Seven Time Management Strategies to Begin, Keep Working On, and Complete Your Projects

Mary Beth AverillMost of us have had the experience of finishing a project at the last minute or late, and not being proud of what we have accomplished. Maybe we just couldn’t seem to find the time to devote to the project or we were frequently interrupted. Procrastination is a term applied to putting things off until later, but what can we do about it? Join us Thursday, November 5, from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Seven Time Management Strategies to Begin, Keep Working On, and Complete Your Projects” by academic author and coach Mary Beth Averill, who will explore 7 proven strategies for getting started, keeping at it, and finishing our projects. [Read more…]