Finding Time to Write Your First Academic Book, Part 1: Series Introduction

Over the past year, I’ve committed myself to helping junior scholars in humanities and social sciences tackle their first book project. Many book-specific tasks trip these scholars up, especially getting a handle on their project as a whole and breaking it down into manageable chunks.

But what first-time book authors struggle with more than anything has nothing to do with their books per se and everything to do with managing such a large project.

The #1 question I’m asked is: “How do I find the time to write my book with all my other responsibilities?”

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Revisions Stalled? Work ON Your Book before Continuing to Work IN it

Book Revisions Stalled? Why and how to work ON your book, not in it

Are you struggling to get a handle on your first scholarly book? To see clearly not just what you have, but where it’s ultimately going? Do you feel stuck in revisions–like you’re adding and changing text in your chapters, but there’s no end in sight?

The problem might be how you’re revising. Specifically, continuing to revise your chapters without a clear plan for the book as a whole can cause your revisions to stall.

Here’s how you can spare yourself time and stress: work ON your book before continuing to work IN it.

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Professors: Monitor & Reframe This Thought Pattern about Writing to Boost Productivity

Professors Monitor & Reframe this thought pattern to boost productivity

In previous posts, I show humanities faculty why and how to monitor negative writing behaviors and how to develop an action plan to develop better habits.

But thoughts are just as much a part of your writing as the behaviors you exhibit. Curious about tips to be more productive? Monitoring and replacing just one thought pattern can make a significant difference.

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How to Put an Academic Writing Project on Hold: 3 Steps to Avoid Future Stress and Wasted Time

How to Put a Writing Project on Hold_ 3 Steps to Avoid Future Stress & Wasted Time-4

How many times has this happened to you? You have been working on an article for months, and are just finally getting “on a roll.” Things are clicking in a way that they haven’t before, and you’re excited to get your new thoughts down on paper. You’re chugging along.

And then it happens.

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Writing Your First Humanities Book? Become a Better Author with NBN Interviews

Writing Your First Humanities Book? How to Listen to NBN Interviews to become a better author-2

I’ve been listening to interviews on the New Books Network–a podcast with specific channels in practically every discipline (French, Literary Studies, Philosophy, History, Popular Culture, etc.)–since before my first book was published.

I’ve long thought that listening to them was one of my secret weapons for writing my book and getting it published.

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Commit, Pause, Revise: Apply it to Academic Writing, Teaching & Productivity

Here’s the setup. Researchers (Lowe and Crawford) wanted to test whether intuitions or further reflection proved more accurate. So, they gave students a test consisting only of true/false questions. All students had two passes at the exam.

The only difference? Half of the students committed in writing to one answer the first time around before choosing a final answer. The other group merely read over the questions before marking their final answer.

What did the study find? Participants that were required to commit to one answer before their second pass scored higher overall than those that only mentally chose an answer.

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7 Writing Habits for First Time Book Authors to Cultivate

7 Writing Habits for Scholars to Cultivate

You will likely fall into one of two camps. If you’re in the first, you might find yourself frustrated and disappointed about your productivity. You know you can write more (or “be more productive”), but it feels like something is wrong with you. “I don’t know how other people do it!” you tell yourself.

Or, you fall into camp two: it feels like something is wrong with your environment. You just “can’t find the time to write.” You eke out most of your writing at the last minute. Then, exhausted, you take a break, only to find yourself facing an imminent deadline again.

Regardless of which camp you fall in (or even if you don’t quite see yourself in either), I’ve got great news. Like everything else, how much you write is dependent on  an interconnected set of habits, thought patterns, and beliefs.

The good news? All of these are behaviors you can take charge of and develop or change. Here’s how.

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How to Quell Your Inner Editor: Indulge It in This Deliberate Way

Quell Your Inner Editor_ Indulge it in This Deliberate Way

Are you plagued by an inner editor? It can take many forms. First, there’s the critical voice that shouts: “This isn’t analytical enough! What are you even trying to say? This isn’t new.” There’s also the frustrated voice that points out the distance between your great idea and what appears on the page: “That sentence doesn’t really capture exactly what I want to say! That tone is not quite right. I need to set this opposition up better” Or, the seemingly innocuous fact-checking impulse: “Oh, you need to double-check that quote/ date/ word/ place.”

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Harness the Power of the Clean Slate to Boost Summer Productivity

Harness the Power of the Clean Slate to Boost Summer Productivity

Faculty: do you plan to use this summer to make headway on your writing projects? Have you fantasized for months about all you’ll finally be able to write once your classes end? Did you (or will you soon) finish the semester stressed, burned out, and needing time to recharge? If so, you might be tempted to take a few weeks completely off from writing. However, this might not be the best strategy because it can lull you into cycles of procrastination.

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Are You Making Scholarly Writing 20% Harder? How to Maximize Your Focus and Productivity

Are You Making Scholarly Writing 20% Harder_ How to Maximize Focus

“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I sit down to write in the afternoon, but after only 15 minutes, I get so distracted that I can’t make any progress on my writing. I schedule my session for two hours, but can’t get anything done. Then I feel guilty for not writing like I was supposed to. I am frustrated that I waste so much precious writing time.”

Does this conversation with a junior colleague sound like you? Here’s how the rest went:

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Junior Faculty: Plan Your Most Productive Writing Summer Yet, Part 2

Professors_ Plan Your Most Productive Summer Yet Part 2 Writing Planning

As I lay out in my post about how and why to plan your summer before the semester ends, summer break tends to sneak up on faculty, professors, and graduate students. During the hectic semester, we long for the days when we will have fewer responsibilities. We fantasize about how much writing we will get done once our piles of work to grade disappear. We imagine that our productivity will skyrocket.

And yet, we often set ourselves up for failure.

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Professors: Why and How to Plan a Productive Summer Before the Semester’s Over

Professors_ How to Plan a Productive Summer Before the Semester Ends

It might have snuck up on you, but summer (at least for most US faculty) is right around the corner. Especially if you have a heavy teaching load right now, I bet you’re thinking two main things. First, summer will be your long-awaited down time to finally rest and recover from the semester’s stresses. Second, you are likely thinking “I can’t wait for summer so that I can finally get back to my research and writing!” With no classes to prep and grade, it feels like you will have endless amounts of time to write, distraction-free.

But long periods of unstructured time can be particularly troublesome. How many times have you found yourself making lofty goals for a break, only to find yourself scrambling in the final moments to get the bare minimum done?

So, how can you set yourself up to have a productive summer from the start? How can you plan your summer writing productivity now?

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