How to use your academic break to improve your writing productivity

Academia works in regular patterns of intensive study and classwork followed by scheduled breaks between or in the middle of academic terms. Whether your institution works on a traditional semester system with breaks between the spring, summer, and fall semesters or on a year-round or quarterly system with breaks strategically scheduled throughout the year, it is important to use these breaks in a way that they can improve your productivity and move you forward.

In this article, I offer two suggestions for using breaks, like the winter break beginning now for most of our readers as we close out 2020, to improve your writing productivity either during or following the break. The advice depends on your regular practice during the academic year.

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.

Fall 2020 TAA Writing Gym receives high marks

Thirty-five authors participated in TAA’s six-week Fall 2020 Writing Gym, which was held October 5-November 16. The gym included templates for tracking writing time and developing a six-week workout plan, a TAA Writing Gym-branded writing journal, weekly inspirational emails, 6 on-demand writing classes, several writing stations that allowed participants to target specific writing areas, and a Facebook Group for networking with other gym members.

In a survey sent out after the close of the fall gym, the majority of respondents gave the gym 5 stars. “The weekly writing classes and blog articles in the Writing Gym were very helpful, especially those about time management, managing multiple projects, and revising,” said participant Andrew Reyes.  

Making publication decisions

On Monday, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion titled, “What Do Publishing Trends Mean for Academic Writers?” hosted by Janet Salmons at SAGE MethodSpace. During the discussion with panelists, Rebecca Y. Bayeck and Sharon Zumbrunn, we addressed the question “What is your decision-making process about what to publish?”

This question encouraged a lot of great discussion that centered around three key decision-making principles: interest, audience, and impact.

Time Management Survey respondents cite prioritization, procrastination issues as biggest challenges

As part of writing coach Mary Beth Averill’s TAA webinar on time management this month, we surveyed members anonymously on their time management challenges.

When asked what they saw as their biggest time management challenges, respondents highlighted scheduling, exhaustion, estimating how long their projects will take, and prioritizing. One person wrote, “waiting to the last minute and finding the project is bigger than I anticipated.” Another pointed out time of day: “First thing in morning: rituals of Internet headlines and email checking.” And, as academics, they have to answer to competing priorities: “The amount of service work required in academic work. Calculating how much time it takes to do things. Prioritizing my own work.”

Are you a crafter or a drafter?

Every author has their own personal style of writing and approach to the writing process. Whether that be a style guide preference, choice of genre, or organization of information, we are all individuals in the craft. I recently listened to an interview with Charlie Wetzel who, since 1994, has served as a writing partner for John C. Maxwell on more than 80 books.

According to Wetzel, authors can be categorized into one of two categories: crafters or drafters. Which are you? Let’s explore each to determine.