Are you one of the millions of instructors or professors back in the classroom this September?
Are you also trying to meet a writing goal?
So how are you doing? Keeping all of the balls in the air?
Maybe you’re like some of my coaching clients who have returned to their fall teaching jobs and feel thrown back on their heels, staring at all that is facing them.
Are you trying to find time just to do the required stuff—preparing for class, grading, meeting with students? How do you fit in those unexpected duties? More students in your classes than you had expected? Maybe you have that student with the special problem that you feel compelled to take on. Or the lab that wasn’t prepared. Or the team-teaching that seems to lack a team.
Or maybe you just forgot over the summer how hard it is to teach and to do anything else at all.
And what is the first thing that you let go? We all know the secret word—Writing!
This year, how can you think of yourself as a writer? Would that be a paradigm shift for you? A whole new reality?
Here’s a challenge for you–Make this the year to see your day through the lens of you as a writer.
That doesn’t mean that you spend more time writing than doing anything else in your day. Nor does it mean that you spend the same amount of time writing every day or (and I’ll go to hell for saying this) that you even write every day.
One client started her teaching year with a plan.
Even though she has a heavy teaching load, she plans to work on her dissertation early each morning. Her teaching day starts mid-morning, and so she will give the first 2 hours of her day to her writing. She needs a goal, and that’s her goal. She will also oversee how well she is doing to meet her goal, what she can do to manage that goal, and whether the goal needs to be tweaked.
Another of my writing clients might seem to you that time-wise she’s not focusing on her writing. But she, too, has a plan.
She also has a heavy teaching schedule and a killer commute, plus a family. She is at a different place in her career as an academic writer than my first client. She has finished her dissertation and is transforming her research into journal articles. She is doing her best to maintain the writing habits she learned while writing her dissertation. She can’t write first thing because she has a young daughter to mother, a dog to walk, and that killer commute, but she also had all of that when she was writing her dissertation. What she learned while she was writing her dissertation was to use small chunks of time for her writing.
She never turned up her nose at writing 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there during a day. They add up!
While she sets as a goal smaller time units than my first client, she is a stickler for meeting her goal. Some weeks she sets as a goal 2 hours for the week. She also sets as goals some time for exercise, and, like me, she finds her mind turning to her writing as she exercises. She anticipates getting in a fast 20- minutes of writing as soon as she finishes running or swimming or walking.
If you plan to write 2 hours each week, surprise yourself by being amazingly productive during those two hours. My client is proof of what can be accomplished by that type of schedule. She has had two articles accepted for publication this year.
If you teach, the demands on you are enormous, but put writing into your schedule. It isn’t how much time, but how dedicated you are to keeping the time that you say you will write.
See yourself as a writer, and then be that writer. Make that paradigm shift.
Do what you say you’re going to do.
All good wishes,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach