Tips for anxious writers: Series introduction

Over the years, as a writing coach trying to help others write more effectively, and as a writer seeking to improve my own ability, I have read a lot of good advice on writing. Too rarely, however, have I found advice that really helped me in my struggles with writing anxiety or that resonated with me as a coach seeking to help other anxious writers. Too often, the advice boils down to “be disciplined and write.” And that’s great advice, of course. At least in a general sense. But for people struggling with anxiety in their writing process, it’s not necessarily good advice. Depending on the degree of anxiety, “be disciplined,” can lead to vicious cycles in which each anxiety-drenched attempt to write only confirms the fear that writing is a painful ordeal.  If you’re feeling enough anxiety, writing is a painful ordeal, as I will attest from personal experience.

Six reminders to help you and your students get to the writing

It’s no secret that writing is hard, whatever our experience, stage, or state. Academics aren’t the only ones who abhor writing. It’s likely that anyone who ever had to write anything abhors writing. With academic writing, as any other kind, it’s usually hard to get started. Even if we’ve had an initial flush of enthusiasm and are amazed at having produced the first few pages, it’s too easy to sink into a frozen torpor.

Yet writing represents some of the most important aspects of our professional work. And too often we avoid, procrastinate, and rationalize why, instead of writing, we must polish the car or clean out the refrigerator.

Your own writing room(s)

My writing buddy’s face turned dark pink as she shouted over her latté. “No one can write anything decent without a private place!” She jabbed with her finger. “It’s gotta be your own!”

I was as adamant. “Oh, come on! All you need is the desire, will, and your stone tablet and sharp tool. It doesn’t matter where you write!”

Our little debate embodies two often-discussed viewpoints about writing. My vehement response to my friend brought up again my long puzzlement about the most effective place to write. Other writers have explored this topic, with many suggestions. They are all fine, but I believe something is missing. Especially if you’re in a quandary about where to write, I’d like to help enlarge your perceptions of your own physical and mental writing places, spaces, and times.

Don’t want to write? Rev up your intentions

These languid summer days, after some necessary business with my dissertation coaching and editing clients, I resist doing my personal writing. Generally, I manage to balance (or struggle with or squeeze) the ever-ongoing writing projects—novel, stories, essays, poems—with the client work. If I don’t do something on my own writing, the day will feel wasted and I didn’t fulfill at least a little of my writing promise to myself.

To tease myself into writing on a particularly steamy day (despite the air conditioning), I remembered a technique that academic and creative coach Dr. Dominique Chlup (2016) teaches her clients. This is to first set your writing intentions: ask yourself how you want to feel writing during this session or having written.

Spring Your Writing Forward: Get a Month of Motivation in April

Accomplish your academic writing goals by focusing on two areas of academic writing that many authors tend to struggle with – isolation and accountability – with TAA’s new Month of Motivation program.

To combat the challenges associated with personal goal setting and accountability felt by many academic authors, we have developed a month-long motivational email series that begins with a personal pledge to meet your writing goals. Simply share with us your goals, anticipated challenges, and what TAA can do to help you succeed, and we’ll help move you forward with daily email messages containing motivation, encouragement, and resources to advance your writing efforts all month long.

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 5, 2021

As academics, we seek to gain and share knowledge, we look for answers and question the ones we know, and we encourage students and colleagues to continue learning and expanding their breadth of knowledge. But what happens when we don’t find an answer or, worse yet, don’t feel like we have the answer to give to someone else?

As academic and textbook authors, we are the authority – the knowledge source – in our discipline, so how could we possibly not have an answer to give, and if we don’t, then maybe we need to question whether we belong in that position of responsibility as a writer after all, don’t we?