Project management: Two free tools to increase efficiency in your writing projects

Project management was originally developed for civil engineering, but even if you are writing a book instead of building a bridge, there are useful approaches to borrow that will improve your work flow. In a previous article, I described that within project management, tools can be roughly divided into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” Project definition tools are those that help you determine the scope, the tasks, and the budget (i.e., time), whereas implementation tools are those that help you conduct the work. Here, I focus on the latter, and present two tools from the lens of project management for writing. [Read more…]

Writing and systems: Beyond strategies, beyond tools

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2020 has ended. The year was exhausting and disrupting on so many levels. I watched my productivity hang on like a spider web in a hurricane, and my soul curl up inside, challenging assumptions, questioning most everything. Invariably, I thought quite a lot about my academic writing; I wrote very little. I thought more than I wrote, yes, but the thinking nurtured the writing, offered renewed perspectives. With these, hope revived. With hope, the deep satisfaction of having stayed the course, having written somethingeven if not enough – and been sustained by the writing habit, by the comfort and familiarity of a writing routine. [Read more…]

Specifying the end: Project management as applied to writing

Is project management really an essential writing process? While academic authors certainly recognize that writing requires many unique processes, each deserving attention, we rarely think beyond research, drafting, and revision. Yet, how well we manage projects can make or break the outcome. Case in point, if you miss the deadline for a special issue, it hardly matters how well your paper was aligned with the editor’s vision! Even when outcomes are not so dire, project management allows you to work in a calmer and less reactive manner, thus allowing for greater creativity.

Within formal project management, the tools can be roughly broken into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” In general, project definition tools are procedures that help you determine the scope, the tasks, the time frame, and the budget (i.e., time). Implementation tools are those that help you work smoothly. Here I focus on the former. [Read more…]

3/11 TAA Webinar: “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help”

PublishedThomas DeetjenDo you struggle to describe your research in writing? Like your crisp research vision inevitably devolves into a disorganized, confusing journal article? Let’s discuss a tool that can help—one with which you’re already familiar, but likely not familiar enough: journal article structure.

Join us Wednesday, March 11 at 1 p.m. ET for the 30-minute webinar, “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help,” where Thomas Deetjen, author of Published, will explore the value of the Introduction, Methods, Results & Discussion—or IMRaD—journal article structure. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 5, 2021

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur AsheNo matter where you are in your writing career, I can promise you two things: 1) you have the knowledge and experience necessary to move ahead from where you are and 2) you still have further you can go. Early career writers have a tendency to look at themselves as anything but a author and remain paralyzed by imposter syndrome. Veteran authors often question how much more they have to contribute. Arthur Ashe reminds us that no matter the current situation, you should “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

In our collection of articles from around the web this week, we have advice on finding the angle and argument for your current manuscript, choosing methodologies for online studies, writing more compelling sentences, and triumphing over writer’s block. We have some resources on qualitative methodologies and journal impact factor rules. Finally, we look at author issues related to book marketing and publishing contracts.

Wherever you are today, start there, use what you have, and do what you can. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Using a writing matrix to maintain academic productivity

Writing a Dissertation and Beyond: Tips & Tools for Launching and Maintaining Your Academic Writing ProductivityIn their recent TAA webinar, “Writing a Dissertation and Beyond: Tips & Tools for Launching and Maintaining Your Academic Writing Productivity“, presenters Danielle Feeney and Margarita Huerta discuss research-based, practical tools and tips that have helped them successfully complete dissertations and launch productive academic careers. Among the tips and tools shared during their presentation was the use of a writing matrix. [Read more…]

Round up all those stampeding ideas

lots of ideasDo ideas flood your brain like a herd gone wild? Do you flail around, physically and metaphorically, trying to corral them and drive them into the barn? Are you going mad trying to figure out how to use them all?

I am almost constantly barraged by ideas for essays, stories, poems, novel slivers, quirky descriptions, and metaphoric pearls. Ideas surface everywhere: as I edit clients’ manuscripts, wash dishes, huff through workouts, wait on line, watch people, meditate, fall asleep, and even during tactful small talk at business dinners.

All the deluging ideas used to make me groan. Sometimes I’d even feel envious of writers who complained about their sparse fits of inspiration. I’d grouse internally that my ideas never seemed to stop. How would I ever get to them all, much less organize them or make something of them? Most would end up in a mass of ragged notes or on scraps stuffed under the scanner. [Read more…]

Writing under duress (or, Writing 2020!)

Books by Janet SalmonsOn one hand, with social isolation and no distractions from travel, concerts, theatre, or friends, it has been a productive year. I’ve completed three short books, and two more are in press. Writing has given me focus and kept me busy. (Alas, no sourdough…) On the other hand, it has been extraordinarily difficult.

My writing practice is centered on books and blogs. This year I discovered a big difference—besides the obvious one of length. [Read more…]

Five ways to tiptoe into your dissertation

Dissertation Dream AchievedIf you’re contemplating a doctoral program in which a dissertation is required or you’re already registered and sneaking up on one—and you feel stumped (read: procrastinating)—here are five ways that should help you begin.

Your Dream

The dissertation is the crowning achievement for your degree. Having reached at least the threshold of the dissertation, congratulate yourself. You made it through all the prerequisites and courses, and you’re that much closer to the award of your degree. You’ve done it all because . . . . ? This is the time to remind yourself: How is this degree part of my life’s goals? [Read more…]

Fine-tune your writing productivity with four Scholar Actions©

Writing and publishing are not the sole definition of an academic scholar, but these two activities are major roles that faculty fulfill. Academic writing and publishing are also primary expectations for career advancement, including the dissertation writing process. At each major point along the career trajectory of a faculty member—from assistant to associate to full—academic writing and publishing are there. Even in my role as an administrator, I continue to write and publish as well as mentor others through the process.

Over the years, I have developed my scholarly voice through my writing and publishing, but I still continue to develop my practice. I am a work in progress. But how did I come to this developing as a scholar? It is quite simple in some ways. I developed good habits to support my writing and learned the process of academic publishing early in my career. [Read more…]