This New Faculty Orientation (NFO) session provided a space for new faculty to strategically plan out ways to make progress on their scholarship and to incorporate regular writing into their schedules. Some resources and tips were provided, and a hands-on planning/goal-setting exercise was performed in small groups. For a video of this event (Muhlenberg-only) click here.

Prompts for Discussion:

  1. What has been your biggest challenge to make writing/scholarship progress during the semester? During the summer?
  2. Reflect on a typical week from this semester. Do you see any pockets of time to incorporate writing? Are there any changes you can make to free up time for writing?
  3. Look forward to a typical week during this upcoming summer. Do you see any pockets of time to incorporate writing? Are there any changes you can make to free up time for writing?
  4. This past year, we have been faced with a global pandemic, increasing violence and discrimination against underrepresented members of our community, and a changing landscape for women and working parents. Are there any strategies you have used to make scholarship progress and maintain some sense of well-being in the current times?

Strategies to Get Writing Done During the Semester:

  1. Research suggests that writing on a regular basis (~25 minutes/day) rather than binge writing is a more sustainable and effective approach to making scholarship progress. This is also a more viable model for during the semester, when large chunks of time can be hard to find.
  2. Blocking similar tasks together is a common productivity strategy. I aim to schedule most/all of my teaching/service obligations on 3-4 days per week, leaving 1-2 days per week more open for research, catching up on miscellaneous work, and restoration.
  3. Consider implementing one “face-free” day per week without meetings, classes, etc. to focus on writing/scholarship.
  4. Set boundaries with students and colleagues. One way to do this is to be open and vocal about your writing goals, deadlines, etc. Mentioning your goals/deadlines to others might make them less likely to interrupt you. Post your reviews and progress on your Canvas page for students.
  5. Reserve and dedicate your best time (whether it be morning, noon, or night) for writing/scholarship instead of spending your freshest time on grading, administrative tasks, etc.
  6. Keep the document with the project you are working on open most/all times. (Or, when you’re having trouble getting started, simply open the document and good things usually will happen.)
  7. Plan to present a chapter from a book in progress at an upcoming conference to impose external deadlines. This is especially helpful with larger, long-term projects.
  8. Post an email away message on your professional activity/scholarship day.

Strategies to Get Writing Done During the Summer:

  1. Incorporating some structure into your summer schedule can be really helpful (having a writing buddy, scheduling writing blocks each day, working with research students, if possible). Since the summer is so long and unstructured, it is easy for the time to get away from you.
  2. Schedule time for restoration so you don’t burn out!
  3. Taking some time before the summer to think about (and write down) what your goals for the summer are, and breaking out rough chunks of projects that you want to work at. Having the plans made up ahead of time helps you actually achieve them without having to redo that mental work.

Resources on Writing/Scholarship Productivity:*

  • How to Get Writing Done by Melissa Dennihy. Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2015. This article provides several strategies for making writing progress as a pre-tenure faculty member.
  • 10 Ways to Make Sure Your Writing Happens (Tulley, 2020) This article makes the case for more regular (i.e., daily) writing habits instead of binge writing and provides concrete strategies for what to do before and during your writing sessions to make them as effective as possible.
  • Becoming a Productive Faculty Writer – A Summary of Best Practices (University of Oregon DEI). This page provides feasible tips to help faculty increase their writing productivity along with a list of writing resources.
  • The Pomodoro Technique: This popular productivity strategy involves working for a designated period of time and then taking a short break (e.g., 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break) for any number of cycles. There are many options for apps and browser extensions.
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Newport, 2016) Newport’s proposed approach to productivity involves a drastic reduction of distractions, technology, email, etc. that is not feasible for many people. With that said, there are some helpful tips and strategies presented by Newport (time blocking, tips on managing email and technology).
  • There is a Writing Group on campus to help facilitate scholarship productivity. We meet for Virtual Writing Retreats every two weeks. Dates are announced via email at the beginning of each semester. We also have a google chat support group and facilitate formation of Writing Triangles to support more frequent writing.

*Some of these resources were kindly shared with us from the University of Southern Indiana (USI), Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL).

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