How to Start a Daily Academic Writing Habit from Scratch

One of my mentees put it better than I could have:

Writing an academic book is really no different from any other project. It’s just about sitting down and putting in consistent work.

In Professors as Writers (ebook), Robert Boice concludes that the single best thing faculty can do to boost their output is to establish a regular writing habit. 

His results are astonishing: faculty who wrote in small, regular amounts (even just 30 minutes per day) produced over three times as many pages as those who only wrote when they felt like it. They also had twice as many creative ideas as those who wrote only when they felt motivated. 

Continue reading “How to Start a Daily Academic Writing Habit from Scratch”

How to Identify Your Academic Book’s Audience

Most academic book proposals ask you to address your book’s market or audience. With ever shrinking library budgets, you definitely want to be able to make the case that your book will reach a wide audience.

But, you also need to be realistic about who you’re actually writing for, not only for the proposal, but also because this will shape how you write your book.

Continue reading “How to Identify Your Academic Book’s Audience”

Academic Book Proposals: All Your Questions, Answered

Writing and submitting an academic book proposal can seem like a daunting task. Below, I’ve answered some of your most common questions and offer the best resources to consult to prepare your academic book proposal.

(Want to make sure you’re ready to start thinking about the proposal? Make sure you’ve completed the 4 Crucial Steps to Do Before Writing an Academic Book Proposal).

Continue reading “Academic Book Proposals: All Your Questions, Answered”

Your Book is a Coherent Ecosystem: Highlight it through Internal Referencing

Academic books are complex, multilayered beasts. So, writing your first one can feel overwhelming. You might struggle to position it with respect to the existing literature. Or, conceptualizing how its structure can best serve its  main argument and subclaims might seem particularly challenging.

Continue reading “Your Book is a Coherent Ecosystem: Highlight it through Internal Referencing”

Review & Revise Your Container Routine with These Questions

If you’re following along with my “Finding the Time To Write Your Academic Book Series,” you’ve now had a few weeks to develop and practice implementing your Container Routine. (Don’t know what a Container Routine is? Read my article on why you should use a Container Routine. Then read Container Routine 101, which helps you put together your first one.)

Continue reading “Review & Revise Your Container Routine with These Questions”

3 Ways to Engineer Your Book Writing Environment

If you’re like many of the junior scholars I coach, you desperately want to find time to write your academic book. But during the semester, it doesn’t feel possible. You might have developed your first container routine. And you’ve taken to trying to implement it each week. You set product-focused weekly goals.

But then it’s time to actually sit down to write, and something comes up. You have trouble sticking to your plans, especially on teaching days.

And you feel frustration, shame, and guilt.

Why can’t you just stick to your plan?

Want to know the secret?

The problem has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how you’re approaching writing.

I bet you’re making one common error. And, as a result, you’re stuck in a hopeless cycle.

Continue reading “3 Ways to Engineer Your Book Writing Environment”

How to Use Google Forms to Track Your Writing Sessions

In previous posts, I’ve shown you how I use Excel to track my own writing sessions, and discussed why opening and closing routines are crucial to sustained writing. In this post, I put all three pieces together by showing you how to make an “opening routine” Google Form you will use to check in to each writing session, a “closing routine” Google Form you will use to check out, and a tracking spreadsheet that automatically calculates what you’ve done.

Continue reading “How to Use Google Forms to Track Your Writing Sessions”

Finding the Time to Write Your Academic Book with a Young Child [A Guest Post]

Many first-time academic book authors, but especially parents of young children, struggle with finding time to write their book.

I frequently receive questions like these:

I’m starting my second year on the TT as the parent of a now one year old. I spent all last year in survival mode between the sleep exhaustion that comes with a newborn, barely keeping my head above water with new course prep, and getting used to my new institution and department.

I know I need to make progress on my book this year for tenure, but I don’t know how I can make it work. How can I find time to write my book while parenting a young child?

So, I turned to a mentee who’s been through this struggle herself. Here is her guest post, including her top 5 tips for finding time to write your first book as a new parent.

Continue reading “Finding the Time to Write Your Academic Book with a Young Child [A Guest Post]”

Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book, Part 5: Implementing Your Plan Each Week

In this series, I show you how to find time to write your first book during the semester, even as a parent on a heavy teaching load (3-3 or 4-4). In previous posts, I’ve tackled some of the pitfalls of planning your time (you don’t keep yourself, the doer in mind) and why and how to develop your first container routine. Last week’s guest poster also offered advice for stressed parents of young children to get your writing done.

This week, we’ll begin implementing your container routine. Doing so involves two principal steps, both of which you should complete before the week begins. (I typically do this on Sunday evening).

  1. Adjusting your container routine (your weekly template) to fit any exceptional commitments in your upcoming week
  2. Filling your containers (both before the week begins and as you go).

Here’s how to do them.

Continue reading “Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book, Part 5: Implementing Your Plan Each Week”

Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book #4: Container Routine 101

This post is the fourth in a series designed to help first-time academic book authors find time to write their book during the semester.

In part 3, I told you how the container routine will help you solve five of the most common struggles first-time book authors face.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through making your first container routine. The basic idea is that you are going to determine a “default template” for how you spend your time each week.

Ready? Let’s go!

Continue reading “Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book #4: Container Routine 101”

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.

Continue reading “Revisions Stalled? Work ON Your Book before Continuing to Work IN it”