aims to build the ACW community by sharing the experiences of academic writers.
Jan 02, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette
I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions. A list of things to accomplish that are vague or unreasonable just serve as a reminder of all of the things I won’t actually do, year after year. Instead, I’ve recently started picking a word for my year, a theme of sorts, for what I hope to achieve in the year ahead. In 2011, I chose “stability,” and in 2012, I went with the word “action.” This year, my word is going to be “focus.” My intention is to find what I want to focus my efforts and energies on. I spread myself a bit too thin last year “acting” on a number of different fronts.
First and foremost, I need to focus on getting my book manuscript finished. An October 1, 2013, deadline is certainly helping to direct my focus onto my writing. It’s a project that I’ve been turning over in my head for more than five years, and it is finally ready to come out as a completed manuscript. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to writing this. The focus is good because I often spread myself too thin, with multiple proverbial balls in the air at once. I now have a legitimate excuse to start saying “no” more often: “I’m sorry, I have to get this manuscript finished.” I am looking forward to having a coach during this period to help me keep my focus on my main goal.
I’m looking less forward to what comes after writing a full draft of the manuscript: editing and revising. My tendency to over-extend myself is a way to justify doing things at the last minute and doing a less-than-thorough job critically looking at my own writing to make it better. I need to develop better strategies in order to improve my writing. This is one of the areas I hope that my coach can help with: working with me to focus on the writing process rather than simply the end product.
The production of this manuscript is obviously going to take a lot of time and energy. This is on top of my heavy teaching load and family responsibilities. My question for 2013 is this: what else should I focus my limited energies on? After I finish the book manuscript, what comes next? What do I want to do with my professional life? I’m not sure if I should still spend significant time and energy looking for a tenure-track job. Having just finished the preliminary round of job applications this fall (which includes the time and stress that comes with it) with zero luck, I am left wondering if this is truly where I should be focusing my efforts.
Here’s to a productive and meaningful New Year!
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