Writing stalled? Send yourself a letter

Letter to yourselfWhen I scanned the mail the other day, one letter caught my eye. I couldn’t quite place the handwriting and tore open the letter. To my shock, I saw I’d written it to myself.

Maybe I should have recognized my own handwriting, but it was like seeing yourself reflected in a window. Even though certain aspects look familiar, we often don’t have a clear picture of what we look like—or write like.

Three weeks earlier, I’d received a rejection for a particularly important writing project. After I poured out my despondency to a friend, she suggested writing a letter to myself venting my frustrations, extolling my virtues, and declaring my writing goals and mailing the letter without a second glance or draft. It should be postal mail, she emphasized—email wasn’t quite the same. I thought this idea a little hokey, but desperate followed her advice. [Read more…]

Take your work on a date

date nightWhat strategies do you use to make your writing enjoyable? In her TAA Conference presentation, “Creative Scheduling for Those Who Have ‘All the Time in the World’ and ‘No Time At All’”, Katy Peplin shared what it looks like to “take your work on a date”.

Before planning to crash your next romantic outing with your journal article, the following is meant to prepare for an exciting opportunity to grow closer to your work, not your soulmate. Peplin shares a five-step process for this productive writing strategy. [Read more…]

Join the TAA Authoring Community – Get $10 off for a limited time

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. As a TAA member, you become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. Each new member enriches the community experience by expanding its breadth of knowledge and creating more opportunities for networking and collaboration.

Discover all of the member resources available to you to help you navigate your path to writing success, including:

  • Live webinars and more than 250 on demand presentations
  • A templates and samples resource library
  • Textbook and academic writing grants
  • An online member community
  • More than a dozen downloadable eBooks on writing and publishing, social media for academics, grant writing, and more.
  • A professional directory of academic coaches, editors, attorneys, indexers, accountants, and more, offering discounted rates exclusively to TAA members
  • Discounted rates on the association’s publications, Guide to Rights Clearance & Permissions in Scholarly, Educational, and Trade Publishing, Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts and Writing and Developing Your College Textbook

Now through June 30, you can use promo code PSAVE10. Join Today! [Read more…]

If a hummingbird strikes your window while you write: When to compartmentalize and when to stop

hummingbird“Writing a story is like going on a date — you will spoil it if you aren’t living in the moment.” — Pawan Mishra, On Writing Wonderfully: The Craft of Creative Fiction Writing

Halfway into my morning writing session, I heard a thump. I looked down at the deck. A hummingbird lay on her back, shaking. In a daze, I went out and stared at her. Her wings didn’t look broken, but what did I know?

I called my partner and my mom. My mom said hummingbirds need sugar water, so I found an old container of grape jelly and made sugar water. I fed her with a water dropper, put her in a box, and she slowly improved. I called the animal rescue people, and they eventually came and took the sweetie away after a few hours of feeding. Though I didn’t hear what happened after that, I’m sure she recovered. [Read more…]

To progress on your project, to friends and organizations say no…thanks

Do you feel you can’t refuse the requests or plans of friends or volunteer groups? Do you secretly resent or rage at them? That they’re eroding or wasting your time, the time you want to or need to use for other activities, like your current article, book chapter, or dissertation?
 
We all have such feelings. To assert ourselves for ourselves takes commitment and practice, especially without making enemies of cherished friends we’ve had for a long time or turning away groups and activities we believe in. [Read more…]

Defensive scheduling: Increase your productivity & piece of mind

I am a big, big fan of protecting time in your schedule. I live and die by my Google calendar, because I can always access it, but on that calendar, you’ll find more than appointments.

There are two kinds of scheduling – appointment and defensive. Appointment scheduling is pretty self-explanatory – you have somewhere to be at a certain time, and so you put it in your calendar. These are the kinds of things that people usually use their calendar/schedule/planner for, and of course, it’s useful. It gets you to where you need to be when you need to be there!

But defensive scheduling is a little different. It’s about protecting time, rather than filling it up. You put something on your calendar so you WON’T give that time away to someone/something else. You claim your time before someone else does. [Read more…]

To keep writing, use a time log

time log“What did I do today!” you wail. For the life of you, wiped out at the end of the day and ready for binge TV, you can’t remember anything you did except overeat for lunch. Maybe you recall writing for eight minutes midmorning and half-heartedly pecking at your journal article in progress, but otherwise the day’s a blank. And paradoxically, you feel you’re always so busy, dashing from one thing to the next and never getting it all done.

Sound familiar? Where does the time go? Especially for academic writers, with the responsibilities of teaching, mandatory committee meetings, office hours, reading endless memos, emailing responses, and comforting a colleague who just got her article rejected—again—it’s an ongoing challenge to take hold and wrestle our writing time to the ground, or desk.

I found a remedy, though, that you may have read about: keep a time log. [Read more…]

2/28 TAA Webinar: “9 Proven Strategies to Help You Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Manuscript”

Mary Beth AverillFor some people, staring at that first blank page is the hardest part of the writing task. Others have good start up energy and ideas but struggle to maintain momentum. Finally, are those who wrestle with completing a manuscript and sending it out. Join us Thursday, February 28 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, 9 Proven Strategies to Help You Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Manuscript, where presenter Mary Beth Averill, PhD, MSW, Academic Coach and author of How to Become an Academic Coachwill present nine strategies to help you with organization, motivation, time management, and editing from start to finish whether you are writing an academic book, journal article, or dissertation. [Read more…]

2/13 TAA Webinar: Creative Scheduling For Those Who Have “All of the Time in the World” and “No Time At All”

Katy PeplinWhether you feel over-scheduled or are desperate for a little structure in your day, a more intentional approach to managing time can be a writer’s secret weapon. However, it can seem impossible to add time into an already packed schedule, or restrict flexibility when that feels integral to the writing process. Join us Wednesday, February 13, 2-3 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, Creative Scheduling For Those Who Have “All of the Time in the World” and “No Time At All”, where presenter Katy Peplin, a coach and editor at Thrive PhD, will provide a collection of tools to think about time, how you spend it, and how that does or does not align with your life writ large. [Read more…]

Beyond time management: Three principles for greater writing productivity and satisfaction

productivityFor our writing productivity and fulfillment, indisputably we need time management, self-discipline, and all the pomodoros (Cirillo, 2018) we can muster. Sometimes, though, as ardently as we apply these, they don’t seem to be enough. Here are three perspectives that may help you through. They are “laws” described simply and eloquently by author, speaker, and spiritual and practical teacher Deepak Chopra (1994) in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.
[Read more…]