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…]

Infographic: 15 Grammar rules it’s okay to break

“Use whom, not who.” “Don’t split your infinitives.” “Use appropriate personal pronouns when talking about yourself.”

Grammar rules are here to keep us in check, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be broken. Often you’ll see infographics listing rules like they’re gospel; stuff like, “Don’t use double negatives” or, “Know the difference between that and which”.

In reality, some grammar rules are more of a guideline than a law. When you know the rules, these can be expertly appropriated to give your speech flair and personality. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 17, 2019

"It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different." ~Scott BerkunThis week’s collection of articles from around the web contains a number of articles focused on the aspects of writer’s life that are not directly related to the task of writing. Things like use of figures, evaluation methods, motivational efforts, discussion, and networking opportunities.

These same things, while supportive of our writing practice, may also prove to be a distraction or cause of fear of evaluation of our own writing. While it is important to keep them in mind and to incorporate them into our overall writing process, we must be sure to use them in a way that moves us further along in our writing efforts. As Scott Berkun once said, “It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different.” This week let the evaluation, nagging, discussion, and presentation of your work drive you to be better and to move forward. Happy writing! [Read more…]

#AcWriChat Tweet Chat: Not on Twitter? Watch live here

acwrimoJoin TAA on Twitter every other Friday at 11 a.m. ET using the hashtag #AcWriChat for a TweetChat on various aspects of academic writing.

Not on Twitter? Not sure what a “Tweet Chat” is? Follow us here (you won’t be able to actively participate, but you will be able to follow the chat live).

[Read more…]

The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literature

The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literatureSo far in this series we have examined how to define a research project – The What, how to construct an effective writing environment – The Where, and what it takes to set realistic timeframes for your research – The When. In this article, we will explore The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literature. [Read more…]

Lemonade stand writing lessons: Honesty and kindness

lemonade standMy friend Jon invited me to the summer tenth birthday party of his daughter at their condo lawn near the pool. As his wife placed after-candles cake slices in front of us, Lisbeth exclaimed, “Dad! I don’t have school for the whole summer! How about doing a lemonade stand!”

I looked at Jon’s face—it registered dismay, knowing he’d have to shepherd the project. Then he smiled enthusiastically. [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…]

Crushing our creative guilt

creativityMany of us feel a strong calling to express our talents—in the academic and literary arts, music, dance, media, crafts, sciences, or any other field. In my profession of writing, almost every writer I know feels guilty for not writing enough, producing enough, and sending out enough pieces. But for “creatives,” as spiritual creativity guru Julia Cameron (1992, p. 33) labels us all, I’ve recognized another unproductive, thwarting, and possibly paradoxical self-recrimination. [Read more…]

Quandaries in your academic project? Use your inner mentor

you as academic mentorMost of us probably had mentors in graduate school and may still maintain contact with them. But they may not be available every time we need their advice or guidance. I suggest that we all have a mentor that is always available, night and day, every season and semester, for every situation and circumstance.

The IM

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 your department or committee chair, the dean of your school, and even the guy who issues your annual parking sticker. [Read more…]