Let’s acknowledge immediately that there are innumerable reasons why a writing project can get stalled: Maybe you took a break and lost momentum? Got irrevocably bored with the topic? Received critical feedback that you can’t get out of your mind? Therefore, we aren’t going to focus on the “why” part. Instead, regardless of why a project got cold, there are some common steps that help us get any project moving again. Today we will focus on steps addressing the underlying emotional and motivational issues. If we can clear those up, the rest will likely go smoothly.
The first step in confronting the anxiety of academic writing is to ask, “What if anxiety about academic writing were to be taken seriously, rather than ignored, treated as a punchline, or accepted as inevitable?” said Rachael Cayley, author of the forthcoming book, Thriving as a Graduate Writer: Principles, Strategies, and Habits for Effective Academic Writing, in her October 19, 2022 TAA webinar, “Confronting the Anxiety of Academic Writing”, available on demand.
“If we instead try to understand why academic writing is the site of so much anxiety, we can then find ways to improve the experience of academic writers,” she said.
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.
The past three TAA Conversation Circle discussions were packed with tips and strategies from TAA members! Here are just 9 tips shared during these discussions:
“At the end of each day, I print out what I have drafted. And then the next day, whenever it is I ended the previous day, that’s my starting point, rather than trying to scratch my head and figure out where I was when I left off.” – Margaret Reece
Use 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.
How often do you talk to your computer?
Last month I discussed the growing sophistication of programs that read your writing aloud from word processing programs such as Word or Pages.
Now, let’s look at the programs that allow you to speak your words into your work without using your fingers. Some might be old school enough to remember the first clunky dictation software. It involved a CD-ROM and lots of instructions and commands. Well thankfully the industry has greatly improved while becoming infinitely easier to implement.