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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

It’s time again for the Annual Road Trip.

Most road trips I’ve been on over the last few years end with our creeping along Interstate 95, wondering when there is going to be a break in the traffic.  Road trips aren’t what they used to be.   That is, not unless you get far away from I-95.

With in-laws in North Carolina and my family in the Midwest, we have to drive a while to our destinations, but it’s worth the effort in order to leave the traffic of the East Coast behind.

And I need to be reminded how much is elsewhere for me and for my family, contrary to the suggestion of the haughty term “flyover country.”

During the days leading up to the Fourth of July we drive south from Washington on I-95 to I-85 in North Carolina and then west on I-40.  And we just keep going, past Asheville, past Franklin, over three more mountains, the third being Chunky Gal Mountain (what a name, right? supposedly, it is from a Cherokee legend) and on to the little North Carolina town where the cousins gather every Fourth. While the small town was very isolated when my husband’s mother lived there as a child, the area is no longer isolated nor a secret. Good roads are plentiful, allowing for tourists and family alike to visit or even keep second homes there.

We gather at a cousin’s house along the lake, and catch up. Of course, there’s story telling and food cooking on the grill, but mostly we watch the little ones play in the sandpile or swim or bob around in rafts on the lake. We marvel over the good health of the child who had been seriously ill, the love between the formerly estranged, the patience shown by a caretaker, and we play (or watch) a marathon volley ball game.

There’s a lot that forms the narratives of our lives—family, books, places, as well as highways and cars and airports.  And there’s the soundtrack to the narratives. At this time of year, I mentally replay Simon and Garfunkel’s  “America,” with its words of emptiness and loss, and I also hear Carole King’s “Doesn’t Anyone Stay in One Place Anymore?” (No apologies for my fondness of Carole King!)

Some people do stay in one place. But for those of us who didn’t, it’s worth the effort to put aside our work, our writing, our anxiety-producing deadlines, and our hatred of sitting in parking lots on I-95 and go show our faces and be part of the family.

If the Fourth is a holiday for you, I hope you can put your writing on hold for a bit and join others to celebrate family and community.

Happy Fourth of July,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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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. 

Best wishes,

Nancy

P.S. Email me—what else do you need to do to make your writing your top priority?

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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Writing is easier for me when I’m in flow.  That is, when I feel some challenge in expressing the content  and producing text, but, even though challenged, I know that I have the skills that are needed.

The tricky part is getting into flow.

1.  To move into flow, write more quickly.
Until I’m in flow, I yield to distraction and look for any opportunity to make a break for it.

This is what works for me. To stick with the writing long enough to be in flow, I write as fast as I can, making odd marginal notes, getting as much down on paper as quickly as I can.  The more text, the better.  As the quantity of text mounts, it will be evident to my ole Lizard Brain that I’m not in danger. No reason to bolt. The more text I have, the more likely I am to keep at it.

2.  To move into flow, build some urgency.
If you’re like me, unless we feel that there’s some urgency surrounding our writing, we can be entirely too casual about  producing text and producing it fairly quickly.

Here’s a tip: To build some urgency, make your schedule visible. It’s easy to keep your head in the sand about deadlines or the passage of time.  To keep time relevant, put your weekly and daily goals on a White Board.  Having the daily task or goal on the board  not only gives you a visual reminder of what you have to do this week, but also allows you to erase what you have finished.

3. To produce more text, write at odd moments.
Riding the subway or train presents odd moments but often we aren’t equipped to write when we’re commuting.  One of my marvelous clients has tried to write on her laptop during her commute, but the laptop was more of an obstacle than a help.  The size and weight made it cumbersome, giving her a backache.  Determined to make use of the otherwise lost time, she bought a Netbook—one of those new lightweight, small very portable laptops.  She can carry the less-than-three-pound laptop in her bag, and its ten-inch width lets her write while she’s scrunched in a seat on the commuter train.

4.  To seize the present, remove obstacles to writing.

Are there some obstacles keeping you from writing?  Have you been ignoring your writing project?

Read my Smart Tips for Writers newsletter that will be sent out this coming Tuesday.  The main article is “The Ignored Writing Project: Six Tips to Get You Back into Action.”

All the best,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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As many of you know, the MLA meetings begin on Dec. 27th in Chicago.

I’ll be thinking of those of you who are having interviews.

For good luck and for some fun, click on the link below to see a spectacular performance—it’s just amazing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKQgTiqhPbw

Do well!  And safe journeys,

Nancy
www.nwcoaching.com

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Zillow.com gives you information about houses.  If you’re doing work on house values, studying a specific house, or studying an area connected with a person, Zillow.com might be helpful.

It could also be your reward for a break after you reach a writing goal.

You can find information by putting in a street address, city, and state of a house, or you can just put in the street address and zip code.

You may get an aerial view of the home and area.  In addition you’ll get an estimate of the current house value (often it’s the tax assessment).

If you’re in the market for a specific house, you might be interested in other information that often is included—such as, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, lot size. I very much like the feature of the year the house was built.

But what I like most is the Bird’s Eye View.

I looked up the first house we owned.  It’s in a city 490 miles from where we now live. We were the first owners, and seeing the date it was built reminded me of many of my life’s milestones.  Hovering over the house in my Bird’s Eye View reminded me of my neighbors:

the family with the active, cute boys on one side of us, the woman in the family on the other side who was earning her doctorate in English [at that time it hadn’t occurred to me that I might someday earn a doctorate, too], the people across the street who brought us a bottle of wine when we moved in and shared their experiences on keeping the front yard as natural as possible.

It’s interesting how much info there is on Zillow.com, and it’s remarkable how many memories its Bird’s Eye View can evoke.

Hope Zillow might be of use to you in your dissertation.

If you use Zillow as a reward after you’ve reached a writing goal, be sure you’ve planned your break well.  Remember to set your timer.  Stop at the sound.  Result– a great, guilt-free break.

Until next time,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.nancywhichard.com
www.nwcoaching.com
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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