February 18, 2008
Other online scholarship advice
I'd like to collect other places I find with useful advice to practicing scholars. The blogging platform I'm using (run by the University of Michigan Library) does not have an obvious way to create pages, or sidebar blogrolls, so for now I'll use this entry and add to it as I discover other resources (or until I figure out how to create a static page).
- Study Hacks, by Cal Newport. He has published two books on college success (well-reviewed at Amazon). The blog offers snippets of advice, many of which are useful for post-student scholars as well.
- Tomorrow's Professor, by Rick Reis. A Stanford professor who has been publishing this mailing list since publishing a book by the same name in 1997. There have been 847 postings to date. Most are short essays written by others. See also the Tomorrow's Professor Blog, which lists the postings and hosts discussions and comments about them.
- Getting Things Done in Academia, by Mike Kaspari, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He offers "advice for graduate students on creativity, scholarlship, communication and time management".
Time to write
Over the years, I have frequently seen advice from professional writers that to get writing done, it is best to:
- set aside some time to write every day, and
- force yourself to write something during that time.
One recent example was advice my colleague Yan Chen shared from a workshop she attended given by Jayne London, an "academic coach" who advises faculty members on writing. London advised that "Writing in short, regular sessions, e.g., 30-60 minutes every work day,leads to higher productivity than binge writing. Even ten minute sessions are better than binge writing."
Another academic coach, Mary McKinney, recommends:
The Tolerable Ten
If you've been putting something off, it helps to start small. Begin working for just ten minutes on the daunting tasks of your life.
Almost any task, no matter how unpleasant, or anxiety provoking, can be tolerated for a short amount of time.
When you are having difficulty sitting down to work, set yourself the small but significant goal of working for just ten minutes on the project. After you've fulfilled that promise to yourself, you are free to either continue working or to stop.
For more of Mary's thoughts, see "Overcoming Procrastination".
Yet another coach, who focuses on advising college students, is Cal Newport, who writes the "Study Hacks" blog. In a 15 October 2007 article, he extracted writing advice from interviews (by others) of ten successful non-fiction writers.
- 9 out of 10 write in the morning, 4 in the afternoon, 3 at night. Only one reported writing all three times.
- Most set a specific starting time, and for most it is 8.30 am or earlier.