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…]

Seeking contributors for forthcoming TAA book, ‘Guide to Making Time to Write​’

Have you developed a successful time management or productivity strategy? Do you use any software or tools that have been particularly helpful in managing your time or boosting your productivity?

Share your time management or productivity tips or strategies for possible inclusion in TAA’s forthcoming book, ​”​Guide to Making Time to Write: 100+ Time & Project Management Tips for Textbook and Academic Authors​”.​

All contributors will receive a complimentary ebook version upon publication!

Submit your contributions

Dear Katy: Tips & strategies on setting boundaries

So many of the questions I am asked by my clients, colleagues, and friends boil down to boundaries. And no wonder, the world continually invents more ways for us to be connected across time and space all while our professional lives demand that we write, write well, and write quickly. To discuss this issue, I’ve rounded up a few questions about boundaries I’ve received to answer here, to both fulfill my lifelong goal to be an advice columnist (😉), and also to illustrate that boundaries are important for all of us, no matter our title, rank, or experience!

Q: “I am a newly appointed chair of my department, and my manuscript is due at the end of 2019. I know that campus will not be a useful writing space for me, but I’m also not the best at writing at home, or in other spaces. How can I make this work for me?” [Read more…]

Can spirituality help you with school?

MeditationAt first flash, spirituality and graduate school may seem to conflict. School requires your intellect; spirituality requires your surrender of intellect. School subsists on logic and realism; spirituality survives on faith.

I used to hold fiercely to these assumptions. Spirituality and school were completely contradictory, I thought, or at least separate.

Privately, though, I’ve often applied spirituality in my longtime academic practice of coaching and advising doctoral candidates wrestling with their dissertations. Spiritual practices have helped me forgive an ornery client, receive internal guidance for the next step on a daunting project, access the right assuaging words before a difficult meeting, and many other quandaries. [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…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software

TAA Textbook AwardsA couple of weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses we decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook and how they got started.

This second installment in the five-part series focuses on how they boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher

TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about how they made the decision to write their textbook, how they interested a publisher, what they do to boost their writing confidence, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This first installment of the five-part series focuses on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got the interest of a publisher. [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…]

3/25 TAA Webinar: “How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic”

Rose ErnstAngelique DavisDo you juggle multiple teaching, scholarship and service projects and worry about ‘dropping the ball’? Do you wish you had one place to easily organize your life as an academic? Then Trello might be for you. Join us Monday, March 25 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic, where Angelique M. Davis and Rose Ernst, both associate professors of political science at Seattle University, will provide an overview of the magic and logic of Trello. They will show you how to use it to masterfully manage multiple projects in one place—without having to switch between paper and multiple digital programs! They will also show you how to use Trello to move your scholarly projects forward. This will include a demonstration and template of a Trello board based on Erin Furtak’s publishing pipeline. You will leave this webinar with a plan to set up your Trello account so you can become a master juggler and calmly manage your academic life. [Read more…]