|Barbara J. Risman||
For most of us, this week is very busy. We are back in the office, meeting students, teaching classes, catching up on email. Hopefully, we are refreshed by the down time we had over the winter break. But now feels rushed, so hectic, and many of us are feeling guilty, how to find time to write when meetings and classes are scheduled nearly back-to-back? What is my advice as a writing coach?
My first suggestion is to relax. In all my nearly 50 years as a professor, I never got any writing done at the beginning of a semester. Never. And for years I felt guilty about not writing at the start of the semester, and let that negativity detract from my enjoying the rest of my job.
My second suggestion is to embrace this part of your job. Get comfortable teaching your new classes.Organize and attack that committee work. Meet with your students. Be the great mentor you know you are. Your job is not just your writing, and to feel bad about focusing your attention on getting the semester up and running doesn’t do you or anyone else any good. Much of what all of us love about being graduate students and faculty is being part of an academic community. Take the time to you need to do it right.
My third suggestion is to make a writing plan. Every academic coach suggests making a writing plan.When will you feel as if you are ready to get back to that manuscript? For some it will be the third week of classes. For others, perhaps earlier. If you have a really challenging teaching semester, perhaps it will be even later. But make a plan to organize your writing time. You can’t save money unless you pay yourself first at every paycheck. So too with writing, once you decide it is time to re-focus on it, you must do it before anything else that is flexible in your schedule. You can’t write when you must be in the classroom or when you are picking up your kids at day care. But you CAN write your article before working on that committee report or revising a perfectly good lecture.
My fourth suggestion is to join an accountability group with whom you write on a weekly, at least, basis. Do it in a coffee shop, or at one another’s homes. Or online. But do it. Saying out loud WHAT you will accomplish by next week, and reporting back is a remarkably simple way to stay on track.
Everyone needs an accountability group. Yours can be a writing group as well. where you critique each other's work, but it does not have to be. Just keeping each other accountable and writing together will keep you on track.
Happy Writing...Watch this space for my blogs about the writing process during this semester.