SUCCESSFUL ACADEMIC WRITING IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS
Most academics — even those who have written and published extensively — labor under the delusion that successful academic writing is all about their big, brilliant minds and their correspondingly brilliant ideas. This is a myth. Successful academic writing and publication — especially of monographs, or “single-author books” in normal-person parlance — is about four percent brilliance. The remaining 96 percent is patience, stamina, tolerance for drudgery, the ability to withstand chaos and mess, planning, discipline, self-control, executive functioning, and did I mention tolerance for drudgery? Not to mention the actual mechanics of putting together a large manuscript! Guess how much of this 96 percent is actually taught with any consistency and rigor in most top-tier graduate programs in North America? Little, if any. This is one of the main reasons so many PhD programs have attrition rates of more than 50 percent, it’s one of the main reasons people don’t get tenure, and it’s probably the main reason even “successful” academics are often overworked and miserable. Executive functioning — essentially managing the project of your own scholarship — is a skill. Like all skills, it takes time and serious effort to develop, and like all skills not everyone takes to it naturally. Even the most brilliant scholars can benefit from an audit and full re-boot of their work habits — and some simply need an outside executive-functioning manager to help them keep their relationship with their work healthy.
CAN AN ACADEMIC PRODUCTIVITY CONSULTANT OR WRITING COACH REALLY HELP ME?
Probably. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Was the last major work of scholarship I completed submitted truly on time (i.e. no extensions, and no “academic” punctuality of “only” three months late)?
- Did I have to spend the days, weeks or even months before my last deadline sequestered away from everyone and everything I hold dear, just to get it done?
- Do I spend most weekends and holidays working, either because I’m behind on my scholarship or because I think I “have” to?
- I asked my children/spouse/partner/friends if they see me enough. What was their answer?
- Do I spend just as much (if not more) time feeling overwhelmed, anxious, overworked or self-loathing as I do actually working on my scholarship?
If you answered “no” to #1 or 4, or “yes” to #2, 3 or 5, your academic work habits may be unhealthy and interfering negatively with your life.
HOW DO I WORK WITH REBECCA?
Currently, in four ways.
My first “academic-adjacent” position was as a contractor for The Dissertation Coach, working under the mentorship of Alison Miller. I am proud to continue coaching for TDC on a (very) part-time basis. If you are a current graduate student in search of coaching services to finish your dissertation, thesis or other major project, please contact TDC and ask for me (or choose another member of the team who better meets your needs; I’m not trying to tell you what to do).
I also provide a private, non-competing consulting service for faculty members, that offers a combination of developmental editing and workflow management. If you are a faculty member at any level, and are having trouble with research deadlines, work-life balance, teaching challenges (e.g. spending too much time grading), or are simply overwhelmed at work or in life, I may be able to help you. I work on a sliding scale depending on level of employment — including four pro bono clients per year (for a period of three months each) who are precariously-employed adjunct faculty.
In addition, I am available for invited lectures and workshops at your institution. At these visits, I provide a workable, realistic blueprint for healthy and successful work habits, and specific (often one-on-one) guidance about academic productivity to faculty and graduate students.
You can also read my (free) series for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Are You Writing?”
Contact me here for client testimonials, to learn more about my invited-event or consulting rate structures, to set up a free initial consultation, or for more information.
NOTE: I am now accepting consultations for a limited number of new clients.