Does the end of August mean the start of a school year for you? Are you teaching this coming term?
My clients who are returning to teaching this fall are determined to learn from their past mistakes and also to build on their successes. It’s great to hear their optimism as they plan for a productive year. And they generously have shared some tips on how they plan to reach their writing goals this term:
1. Enjoy reconnecting with your colleagues and community.
Have you been out of touch with other instructors and professors this summer? Have you felt isolated? The first-of-the-year welcome-back meeting doesn’t have to be hokey. Enjoy the spirit and settle in.
2. Feel grateful to be teaching.
Every fall, there are changes. However, this year in particular, if you’re an adjunct or an instructor, you know that some of your colleagues from past years won’t have been given classes. If you are teaching this fall, you’re lucky. If you’re on the job market for a tenure-track job for next year, you are well situated. Be grateful. It’s easier to get a job when you have a job.
3. Use the structure of the school year to bolster your writing.
Rather than going into the fall term thinking that you won’t get any writing done, practice what you preach. What do you tell your students or advisees about getting work done? Look at the schedule as a good student does. When do you have a free hour? What are you doing with that hour? When are you at your best? Carve out a writing morning or afternoon and then make yourself unavailable to uninvited drop-ins and out of reach by phone or email. Put in your calendar the times for your writing sessions.
4. Let teaching feed your writing.
Teaching is compelling and consuming, with its daily demands and its enormous rewards of working with students. But it can also feed your writing. If you can teach your dissertation, do it. If you can’t, watch for the unexpected connections that your students (and your brain) hand you while you are teaching. Keep an upbeat, positive attitude, viewing your classes through a lens of gratitude for what they can do to further your writing.
5. Say no to additional speaking requests and no to other optional opportunities.
Whether you are working on a book or a dissertation, you have to make writing a priority. Other opportunities will arise, and you will think that they are too good to decline, but how important can they be if they eat up your writing time?
My clients say that you’ll be asked to speak and sometimes those requests will be very tempting. However, think about how much time it takes to prepare for a talk or lecture and possibly to travel. Think how much energy goes into the delivery, and then think how much recovery time is involved. The adrenalin stops pumping and you start second-guessing how well the talk actually went and what you could have done better.
Finish your dissertation or your book. Insure that you’ll be at the departmental meeting of your choice next year, feeling happy and relieved to have the current writing project over and done with.
This term, let writing be top dog.
P.S. Email me—what else do you need to do to make your writing your top priority?