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Academic Voices september 7, 2011   

Academic Voicesaims to build the ACW community by sharing the experiences of academic writers.

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Develop a Writing Habit

Whether your goal is to write a dissertation, a book, or articles for your tenure review, you must learn the secret of all productive writers: establish a writing routine. It's surprisingly simple to create a writing habit. Yet many academic writers have a difficult time doing it, and all of us have an even more difficult time maintaining it.

Here's how simple it is to develop a writing habit to sustain your writing:

  1. Know yourself. The first step is to think about what will work for you. When is your best writing time? Where is your best writing place? What distracts you from writing?
  2. Set your intention. Create a structure that will support your writing. Set aside a small amount of time everyday for your writing activities. Write down your plan and decide on small, manageable chunks of writing for each block of time.
  3. Stick to your plan. Set up an accountability system for yourself. Track the days and times you work, the results of your efforts, the struggles you experience. Don't beat yourself up if you miss your targets, but use this information to adjust your plan.

Sound easy? It's not. Find an accountability partner or contact ACW to work with a coach or to join a writing group to develop a writing habit and stick with it.

Putting the Pieces Together: The Dissertation Proposal

Kat Malinsky, ACW Academic Coach

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Completing a proposal is like doing a jigsaw puzzle with 1000 pieces. If you feel overwhelmed when you think about how to put all the pieces of a proposal together, join Dr. Kat.

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Finding Your Tribe: Developing a Women's Academic Support Network

Moira Killoran, ACW Director of Academic Coaching

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Have you found an academic tribe that will support you on your academic journey? Join this teleseminar to learn how to build, support, and maintain strong working relationships.

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A Writing Conundrum: How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Plagiarizing

Caroline Eisner, ACW Director of Academic Writing

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Have you ever wondered if you've plagiarized? Although some may plagiarize on purpose, more often, people plagiarize because they are not familiar with the ever-changing rules of copyright, fair use, style guides, and disciplinary expectations. Join Caroline to learn how to avoid plagiarism.

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The Path to Tenure

Amy Kiste Nyberg, ACW Academic Writer

This blog series will help you travel the path to tenure without getting lost or sidetracked.

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Sally Jensen, ACW Founder

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Academic Voices. Please share with our ACW community your academic journey, including your challenges and how you've overcome them. And forward these newsletters to your colleagues so that our community can grow.

As the founder of ACW, I am like everyone else when it comes to maintaining a writing habit. What works for me is to get up very early in the morning and get my body and mind moving by going for a jog or doing some yoga. During that time, I formulate my daily writing plan and then I try to get into action on my writing as soon as I can. What distracts me? Email of course. Since I am on the West Coast and the coaches and many of the clients and prospective clients I work with are on the East Coast, their day is half over when I am first sitting down at my desk. Knowing that many people are waiting for a response, I am tempted to dig into the mountain of email. But that's a sure way to sabotage my writing.

Matt McCaffrey on Establishing a Writing Routine
PhD from UC Santa Barbara, Graduate School of Education

Note: Matt successfully defended his dissertation on August 16. The coaches at ACW applaud Matt for his hard work and good attitude about the dissertation process. He is an inspiration to all of us.

Examining the writing process. With my dissertation coach, Dr. Sally, we discussed my writing style and when I worked best, and established writing goals for each week. Although this sounds straightforward, I do not remember anyone in my academic journey ever actually discussing my writing process with me. It made a difference. I began to examine my writing style, really became aware of when I worked best, set realistic goals, and also incorporated time to balance my life. I discovered that writing the different chapters of a dissertation was an attainable goal.

The routine. My days start off early, waking up around 5:30. With a strong cup of coffee in hand, I begin writing. I try to tackle about an hour and a half of writing during this early morning period, take a break, then come back about an hour later, and write for another hour or so. I also make notes of what I was doing right before I stopped. Then take a long break to exercise and run errands and do not touch the writing until the late afternoon, when I give one final push and write for another hour-and-a-half to two hours.

Writing lessons. The most important things I learned from examining the writing process with my dissertation coach were how to break up sections into manageable writing pieces, manage my time efficiently, and be more realistic about how much solid writing I could expect to do every day. Originally, I thought I would be able to write 7-8 hours a day, but quickly learned from being in discussion with my dissertation coach, that for this kind of writing, 7-8 hours was unrealistic. I learned to be reasonable, and 4 or 5 hours was the maximum amount of time I could write and still allow myself to be fresh every day, stay excited about what I was writing about, and keep a balanced life.

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