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.”
I’m a big fan of setting goals to help make scholarly writing less daunting. I’ve encouraged you to set product-focused weekly goals and set goals for and track your individual writing sessions. But my hope is to help you write more, with less effort.
It happened when you were up against a deadline, and you had no other option. You sat down and thought, “I don’t know what I’m saying! How can I write if I don’t know what I’m saying!” But with the looming deadline, you managed to temporarily push past your fear and just start.
In previous posts, I showed you how to get your summer off to the right start by making a schedule, time map, and setting a summer start date; determining what your writing will look like; and negotiating the crucial first weeks. But summer is not just about writing. Here are 6 other things you should consider adding to your schedule.
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.
“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:
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.
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?
Your brain tricks you constantly. You think you are a good multitasker. It never feels like your attention and focus suffer when you quickly answer a text message during a writing session. In fact, you’re able to get right back to your work.
The science tells a different story, one that will forever change how you see task switching and interruptions.
So many junior scholars quickly find themselves in research “survival mode.”
You might find yourself saying “I don’t have time to write, especially on teaching days! I barely have enough time to prep, teach, grade, eat and sleep!” Or, you might find yourself in an extreme cycle: you write intensely to meet a deadline, then crash after.
It’s time to break out of survival mode! How? Committing one hour per week a weekly writing review.Continue reading “A Weekly Writing Review: One Hour You Can’t Afford Not to Spend”
In previous posts, I outlined how to publish more articles by tracking your writing, how to use opening rituals to make each writing session productive, and how to use closing rituals to set yourself up for success in your next session. But those posts left out one key piece. How do you set actionable product-focused weekly writing goals? In this post, I break down goal setting for academic writing into manageable steps. Use the framework to make your large academic writing projects more manageable.
Do you feel like you’ve read every writing and productivity book published for new faculty and scholarly writers, but still struggle to make progress on your projects? Do you make commitments to write at certain times, only to find that something urgent causes you to break your appointment? Do you find yourself taking on too many commitments, yet struggling to say no to new ones?
In another post, I describe how using an opening routine can help you start your writing session more easily. But there’s something else that I do at the end of each session–my closing routine–that makes my opening routine possible. You see, at the end of each writing session, I not only track what I wrote and for how long, but I also commit to my next writing session (which I set during my weekly writing review), and I set concrete goals (or actionable steps) for my next session.
Did your new faculty job come with a long (45 min+ each way) car commute? Do you struggle to gain traction on your research projects because you feel like you have to sacrifice your precious early morning to make it to campus? Do you enjoy podcasts and audio books, but wish you could make your in-car time more “productive”? Continue reading “Turn Academic Articles into Audio with Microsoft Word’s Speak”
The biggest struggle I hear other tenure-track faculty at teaching-oriented institutions articulate is the amount of time it takes to teach 2-3 times as many courses as you ever did–most ones you’ve never taught before!–while establishing and maintaining your research agenda.