Rejecting the premise of writer’s block: Write your way out

When you talk with academic writers about productivity, you are likely to hear the term ‘writer’s block’. Despite the prevalence of this term, I am resistant to identifying common academic writing difficulties as writer’s block. Most writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking. That isn’t just a semantic quibble: it matters that we grasp exactly what is inhibiting our writing processes. When we diagnose ourselves as having writer’s block, we can start to believe that we aren’t currently able to write. If you find yourself with a sore leg, it may well be that avoiding walking is a sound strategy. If you find yourself unable to write, might it be a sound strategy to avoid writing? The answer to that question is almost always no. Not writing has little-to-no curative power, in my experience. [Read more…]

Meditation and mindfulness for your major project

mindfulness meditationMay I suggest using spiritual principles or practices in your important academic project? “What!” you cry, “Academics and religion/spirituality don’t mix, like ice cream and boiled kidney!”

But . . . as you wrestle with your Major Work, do you crave less anxiety, more confidence, better work flow, even real answers to all those knotty quandaries?

Meditation and mindfulness can help. In my academic coaching practice, I’ve found, to my surprise, that many graduate students in their dissertations and professors in their articles use spiritual methods to help them through the Purgatory of academic writing. And I encourage them, primarily in two ways—meditation and mindfulness. [Read more…]

2/20 TAA Webinar: “Get Your Stalled Writing Back on Track”

Write No Matter WhatJoli JensenSometimes writing projects, no matter how worthwhile or necessary, lose momentum. Stalled projects can become albatrosses, draining our energy and keeping us trapped.

Join us Tuesday, February 20 from 2-3 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Get Your Stalling Writing Project Back on Track,” presented by Joli Jenson, author of Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics. In this one-hour webinar, you’ll learn structured techniques to figure out the best way to deal with your stalled writing project, as well as strategies and support for recommitting to, reframing or appropriately relinquishing your stalled project. This makes it possible for you to move forward with a project you truly want to write. [Read more…]

To rejuvenate, consider closing your writing shop

ClosedAre you dragging when you think about your current writing project, or writing itself? Do you long to regain that old surge and rush of excitement? Maybe, like companies that close temporarily for renovation or universities that close for a holiday break, you need to close your writing shop for some needed rejuvenation.

It’s tough, I know. When we think of closing, even for a little while, reams of ingenious excuses rear up. Any of these sound familiar? [Read more…]

Call for Proposals: Textbook and academic authoring conference

TAA’s 31st Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference will be held at La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, NM, June 15-16, 2018. The conference is attended by authors and aspiring authors of textbooks, journal articles, and other academic works, as well as by industry professionals from across the country.

TAA invites the submission of presentations relevant to authoring and publishing textbooks and academic works (journal articles, books, and monographs). [Read more…]

9 Questions to help you discover your writing working preferences

Your Working EnvironmentIt’s hard enough to start, much less continue, our writing, scholarly or otherwise. When we ask ourselves some important questions and act on the answers, we can more easily sneak up on the current project and get started.

The questions and answers are completely between us and us, and we have the best and only answers. Whatever other advice we’ve read or heard, however loudly others swear theirs is the only way, it’s our answers to ourselves that matter.

For my own writing and that of the dissertation- and article-producing clients I coach, I’ve found the following questions are the most crucial and tell us what we need to know about our working preferences. Answer the questions below and others that may arise to diagnose your perfect work environment. [Read more…]

How writers can use feedback effectively

FeedbackA good writing practice—a habit of coming back to work on your project regularly—is the foundation of good writing. One of the biggest challenges to many writing practices is to keep going after receiving difficult feedback. And perhaps an even bigger challenge is the fear of receiving feedback, which often contributes to writer’s block. If you’re submitting to a publisher, a journal, to your dissertation committee, or anyone else who might provide feedback, it will help if you feel like you can use the feedback you get effectively.

The following is a slightly edited excerpt from my book Getting the Best of Your Dissertation: Practical Perspectives for Effective Research: [Read more…]

Writers: Don’t get caught in the ‘downward spiral’

Getting the Best of Your Dissertation

A good writing practice is the foundation of good writing. A good practice is built on regular action, and depends on the ideas or perspectives that lead to effective action. When faced with a large writing project, it is important to look at the relationship between your work practice and your emotions. Today’s actions influence tomorrow’s approach to the project, and work today can make it easier to work tomorrow.

The following is a slightly edited excerpt from my book, Getting the Best of Your Dissertation: Practical Perspectives for Effective Research: [Read more…]

11 Tricks and tips to get those words on a page

Writer's BlockWhether we’re in the throes of a dissertation, article, or book, most of us have trouble writing—starting, continuing, finishing. Especially after our original flush of enthusiasm and amazed production at the first few paragraphs or pages, we find that each of our writing projects carries its own problems.

From my own experiences with tortured writing and those of my academic coaching and editing clients, here I’ll share eleven tricks and tips to help you ease into or continue your writing. If you need convincing, included too are credible rationales for how each method can help you. [Read more…]

How to start writing again after a break

Taking a long break from anything,Mahatma Gandhi — 'The future depends on what you do today.' writing included, can make it difficult to know how or where to start again. Two of the biggest hurdles to overcome are allowing yourself to let go of any guilt you have from not writing and putting to rest the infinite “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality. Of course that isn’t to say that breaks are often necessary. They allow you to come back to your writing rejuvenated, more motivated, and re-inspired. However, when a break turns into weeks and months without writing, the daunting task of how and where to start again is often suffocating.

So what can you do to get back into your writing routine? [Read more…]