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…]

Jumpstart your writing productivity this summer: Join the TAA Writing Gym

Writing GymFlex your writing muscles in the TAA Writing Gym! This 6-week work-out-on-your-own gym time will serve as your writing accountability partner as you work to achieve your writing goals. The gym is open to those writing textbooks, scholarly journal articles, and dissertations.

Here’s what previous Writing Gym participants have had to say:

“The writing gym was fantastic. It raised my commitment to writing productively.”

“I loved the opportunity to change my writing habits. Now I am feeling guilty if I don’t at least find 30 minutes to work on a project!”

The gym will be open 24/7 from July 20-August 29, 2020. Gym time includes:

  • A TAA Writing Gym-branded writing journal
  • Weekly inspirational emails
  • Six on-demand writing classes
  • Several writing stations that allow you to target specific writing areas
  • A participation certificate (view sample)

At the end of each week you’ll be asked to share your accomplishments for weekly prize drawings.

Members: $49
Non-Members: $99 (includes a one-year TAA membership)

The deadline for signing up is July 13. We hope you’ll join us!

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 22, 2020

“Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do.” ~Brian TracyThis week’s collection of articles from around the web is filled with hope and encouragement for writers. Despite many still being locked down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the posts we found this week explore ways of strengthening writing habits, enhancing productivity and creativity, and recognizing the vast amount of work done by authors beyond the published production counts.

There are resources on self-care, fresh perspectives, and cutting yourself some slack. There are also guides for mixed methods research, issues related to scholarly communication, the problem with enhanced ebooks, and a new milestone in open access publishing by Springer Nature.

Especially in uncertain times, it can be easy to focus on the lack of opportunity, the disruptions to our normal way of life, or the seemingly insurmountable challenges we face, but if we choose to do so, we can find hope and encourage ourselves to explore new perspectives for even greater results ahead. Brian Tracy suggests that you “Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

Freeing ourselves from creative blocks

Creative blockWhen we experience a block in our writing, we may blame our deficiencies in the technical aspects—grammar, word use, sentence structure, consistency of details. Often, though, when we fixate on technical problems, we’re avoiding the more pervasive creative blocks. After all, editors can fix our technical errors. Only we can fix our creative snags.

In my work as editor and coach for writers, I can point out the faulty technical aspects in their manuscripts—repetition of “pet” words and phrases, passive voice, overuse of adjectives, overload of clichés. I can recommend grammar guides, style resources, and lists of synonyms. [Read more…]

Reality check: 5 Ways to combat imposter syndrome

imposter syndromeI can’t do this! What were they thinking when they picked me to write this textbook? Who am I to be conducting this research? Everyone at this presentation is going to know all of this already. I have nothing new to offer to this conversation.

These are just a few of the messages that imposter syndrome may share with you as an author in academia. And each can be the wall that limits or delays your success. Or you can find ways to get a reality check and overcome these false feelings of being unqualified for the task at hand. Below I offer five such ways to combat imposter syndrome. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 14, 2019

A different type of writerAs I complete this collection of articles from around the web this week, our 32nd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference is underway in Philadelphia. Over the next couple of days, authors from different disciplines, backgrounds, and geographic regions will come together to discuss topics of common interest, each with a common goal of becoming a more successful author.

This week’s collection includes some ideas that face most, if not all, of this diverse group, including writer’s block, thesis statements, data visualization, authorship, and author contribution. It also contains articles on specific issues facing subsets of our collective authoring community, including work/life balance for PhD students, diversity factors in awards and recognition, and open source initiatives and funding.

No matter the differences among us, and whether you are here in Philly with us this weekend or part of our larger authoring community, know that you are not alone. Take comfort in the things that we share and that are shared with us. Happy writing! [Read more…]

3 Time problem areas and how to handle them

clock on deskIn her recent TAA webinar, “Creative Scheduling For Those Who Have ‘All of the Time in the World’ and ‘No Time At All’”, Katy Peplin identified three areas that commonly result in time problems: focus blocks, priority blocks, and scheduling blocks. If you’re having difficulty managing your time, chances are you’re dealing with one or more of these blocks.

But there’s good news. Peplin also shared specific actions that you can take to overcome each of these three blocks. [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…]

Should we succumb to ‘the mood’ to write?

writing moodsWe all have trouble getting to the desk. Loads of articles, blogs, chapters, and seminars by writers for writers advise how to get to it, stay at it, and finish the damn thing. And some of them help, like Schumann’s (2019) dictum to do fifteen minutes a day or the pomodoro method (Cirillo, 2018) of twenty-five minutes on, five off. Schumann and others also counsel that inspiration is a cheat. If you believe you must wait to write until the right mood strikes, you’ll never get much done. Many writers nevertheless persist in this myth, supporting it with impressive rationales.

Some blame external circumstances: [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…]