Ever wonder what a writing coach does when they get stuck in their manuscript? Join Boyd, Mazak and Wang as they describe the biggest challenges they’ve faced when writing books and what they do to move past them. They’ll describe some of the key ways that scholars get tripped up when writing and share examples from their recent experiences with their own books. They’ll also discuss the strategies they recommend to junior and senior faculty members and what happens when they take their own advice.
Most of us probably had mentors in graduate school and may still keep in touch with them. But they may not be available every time we need their advice or guidance. Did you know? We have a mentor that’s always available, night and day, every season and semester, for every situation and circumstance.
This is your Inner Mentor (IM), also called your inner guide, self, voice, spirit, higher power, soul, subconscious, guidance system, intuition, even your heart or gut. It has more power than the dean of your school, your department or committee chair, or even the guy who issues your annual parking sticker.
Whenever I start a new piece of writing, despite many such starts, I’m often gripped by panic. I still look forward to capturing a new idea on the page, but I freeze. Thinking hard, I finally saw why: it’s the feeling of unknowing.
Whether I’ve scribbled a handful of notes in a frenzy of inspiration or actually made an outline, that same itchy, unsteady, slightly nauseous feeling pervades. Not exactly illness or a full-blown block, it’s more of a nervous disquiet I can only describe as “creative limbo.” Doesn’t matter how often I’ve felt it or many pieces I’ve started and completed. It rears up.
Where are you starting with your writing? Anne Lamott says, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” Whether you are starting as a graduate student, a post-doc defining your research agenda, a new writing project, or a more extensive writing career, your new “first” effort will be a start (perhaps terrible) but not the end.
In this collection of articles from around the web, we find advice on academic authoring in the first person, writer’s block, research agendas, and protecting your ideas. We also find content on achieving goals as young writers, making writing a career, and considering University Presses for your next publication.
Whatever you are writing, start where you are and move forward. Happy writing!
If you struggle with writing anxiety, I want to assure you that it is possible to learn to love writing. Such love is the foundation and motivation for a healthy practice. Saying that it’s important to love your work and calling it “a labor of love” might suggest that I’m getting distracted by woo-woo new-age goals, so I want to be clear that my goal is to help anxious writers write more productively, any emotional benefits are secondary. It just so happens, however, that people often manifest high-level performance because they love what they’re doing and consequently spend a lot of time and effort on it. I imagine that anyone in academia has met at least one scholar who did good work and was truly, genuinely excited by and interested in the ideas they were pursuing.
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.