"A meek endeavor to the triumph" by Sampath Jayarathna

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[Acrobat SDK Plug-in Development] How to extract text from Acrobat Text Highlight Tool?

This is an update to my previous post on Acrobat SDK Plug-in Development: How to create Text Highlight. In this new code, I'll explain far easier way to manipulate Adobe Acrobat Text Highlight tool to get the text from the highlighted area and then use it in your plugin.

This code snippet will explain how to extract text highlighted using the Text Highlight tool plug-in using Acrobat SDK. I assume that you've already know how to implement basic plug-in functionality using Acrobat SDK. The version of the SDK used in this code example is Acrobat XI SDK. I also assume following requirements,

Step 1: If you start with the BasicPlugin.cpp in the Acrobat SDK then you should have the following function when you click on your plugin from the menu bar,

ACCB1 void ACCB2 MyPluginCommand(void *clientData)
// get this plugin's name for display
ASAtom NameAtom = ASExtensionGetRegisteredName (gExtensionID);
const char * name = ASAtomGetString(NameAtom);
char str[256];
sprintf(str,"This menu item is added by plugin %s.\n", name);

// try to get front PDF document 
AVDoc avDoc = AVAppGetActiveDoc();

//Display words of the pdf file. 
PDDoc currentPDDoc =AVDocGetPDDoc(avDoc);
AVPageView currentPageView = AVDocGetPageView (avDoc);
ASInt32 pageNum = AVPageViewGetPageNum(currentPageView);

//Create a PDWordFinderConfigRec object;
PDWordFinderConfigRec pConfig;
//Set the DWordFinderConfigRec object's attributes
memset(&pConfig, 0, sizeof(PDWordFinderConfigRec));
pConfig.recSize = sizeof(PDWordFinderConfigRec);
pConfig.ignoreCharGaps = true;
pConfig.ignoreLineGaps = true;
pConfig.noAnnots = true;
pConfig.noEncodingGuess = true;

//Create a PDWordFinder object
PDWordFinder pdWordFinder = PDDocCreateWordFinderEx(currentPDDoc, WF_LATEST_VERSION, false, &pConfig);
//Create a callback function
PDWordProc wordProc = NULL;
wordProc= ASCallbackCreateProto(PDWordProc, &getHighlightedText);

//Extract and display words highlighted 
PDWordFinderEnumWords(pdWordFinder, pageNum, wordProc, NULL);
string strs = pdfCorpus.str();
const char* ps = strs.c_str();

if(avDoc==NULL) {
// if no doc is loaded, make a message.
strcat(str,"There is no PDF document loaded in Acrobat.");
else {
// if a PDF is open, get its number of pages
PDDoc pdDoc = AVDocGetPDDoc (avDoc);
int numPages = PDDocGetNumPages (pdDoc);
sprintf(str,"%sThe active PDF document has %d pages.", str, numPages);


Step 2: Now use the getHighlightText method to go through all the annotations and get PDTextSelect object. 

ACCB1 ASBool ACCB2 getHighlightedText(PDWordFinder wObj, PDWord wInfo, ASInt32 pgNum, void *clientData)
char stringBuffer[100];
AVDoc avDoc = AVAppGetActiveDoc();
PDDoc currentPDDoc =AVDocGetPDDoc(avDoc);
CosDoc cd = PDDocGetCosDoc(currentPDDoc);
PDAnnot annot;
PDPage pdpage = PDDocAcquirePage(currentPDDoc, pgNum);
ASInt32 numAnnots =PDPageGetNumAnnots(pdpage);
ASFixedRect boundingRect; // bounding rectangle of the term
char * annBuf;
for(ASInt32 i = 0; i< numAnnots; i++){
annot = PDPageGetAnnot(pdpage, i);
if (ASAtomFromString("Highlight") == PDAnnotGetSubtype(annot))
// Gets the annotation's rect
PDAnnotGetRect(annot, &boundingRect);
// Gets the text selection from the annotation's rect
PDTextSelect textSelect = PDDocCreateTextSelect(currentPDDoc, pgNum, &boundingRect);
                        // create a callback to get the text from highlighted bounding box
PDTextSelectEnumText( textSelect , ASCallbackCreateProto(PDTextSelectEnumTextProc,&pdTextSelectEnumTextProc) , &annBuf );

return 0;

Step 3: Create a callback function to extract the text from the PDTextSelect object. Here, pdfCorpus is a stringstream so I can use that in another part of the code. 

ACCB1 ASBool ACCB2 pdTextSelectEnumTextProc(void* procObj, PDFont font, ASFixed size, PDColorValue color, char* text,ASInt32 textLen)
char stringBuffer[200];
pdfCorpus << stringBuffer;
return true ;


Monday, August 24, 2015

[Monday Motivator] Rethink Your Writing Time - August 24, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

In last week's Monday Motivator I challenged each of you to create a Strategic Plan by identifying your research and writing goals, mapping out how to achieve them, and committing specific weeks in your calendar to particular projects. If you haven't created your strategic plan yet, you can click here and listen to our Every Semester Needs a Plan webinar to get yours started.

This week, I want to focus on how you can move from having a written Strategic Plan to actually executing that plan! Based on the findings of faculty development researchers, the answer is straightforward: write every day for at least 30 minutes.

It sounds so easy, but for most academics, writing for at least 30 minutes every day is anything but simple. It is more difficult than it sounds because even though we KNOW that writing and publication are high priorities, we often BEHAVE as if writing is our lowest priority. In other words, despite knowing that writing is critical to our professional success, we often treat it as an optional activity. We "try to make time for it" at the end of the day, or "hope to get to it" after everything else has been done and everyone else's needs have been met. I want to make a radical suggestion this week: let's re-think our writing time by giving it the same weight in our schedule that it will have in our tenure review, promotion decision, and/or how we are valued on the job market.

To begin re-thinking your writing time, try an experiment this week by blocking out at least 30 minutes of each day for writing (Monday through Friday). In order to send a powerful message to yourself and the universe, go ahead and block that time out of your calendar the same way you would a meeting or a class. Then treat your writing time with the same respect and professionalism that you would extend to your colleagues or your students. That means your writing time is non-negotiable, nothing else can happen during that time, and if anybody asks to schedule something during your writing time, the answer is: "Unfortunately I'm not available at that time, I have a meeting."

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to do the following:
  • Create a Strategic Plan (if you have not done so already).
  • Block out at least 30 minutes of time each day this week for writing. I mean literally write it in your calendar! If you are feeling bold, go ahead and block out your writing time for the entire term.
  • Treat your writing time with the same respect you would a meeting with your colleagues or your students.
  • Show up at your computer during the writing time this week and see what happens.
  • If you need support and accountability in developing your daily writing, join us in the Monthly Writing Challenge on the NDFDD Discussion Forum.
  • If you find yourself unable or unwilling to do any of the above, gently and lovingly ask yourself WHY?
  • If you want more help in developing a daily writing practice, why not review our Core Curriculum Webinar: How to Develop a Daily Writing Practice.
I hope this week brings you the openness to re-think your writing time and the strength to aggressively, pro-actively, and even ruthlessly make time for writing every day. You deserve it!

[Monday Motivator] New Year, New Habits - August 17, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

Every year it's the same story. Whenever I attend large conferences in late summer, many people -- from graduate students through endowed chairs -- approach me to discuss their writing (or more accurately, the lack thereof). These conversations have a similar awkward quality and painful script that I've only experienced in a confessional booth: no eye contact, hushed voices, palpable guilt, and a touch of desperate hope that another person can say something that will wipe away the past and provide new hope for the future. In these instances, person after person pulls me aside to confess their various writing sins. Unfortunately, I have no power to grant absolution so all I can do is listen.

These conversations cause me to wonder why the perfectly natural and common experience of getting stuck in our writing feels like a dirty little secret? Why do we ALL think that we're the only ones who struggle with writing? And why is our natural response to writing problems self-isolation, self-flagellation and avoidance of the very types of community that would help us to move gracefully through our writing resistance? I hear the same two themes over and over again:
I am hopelessly stuck, I'm not writing and I haven't written for a very long time, and
I feel___________ (angry, guilty, ashamed, frustrated, afraid and/or depressed) about my lack of productivity.

As difficult as these conversations are, there's one remarkable point of contrast. I frequently have the pleasure of meeting with groups of graduate students, post-docs, and new faculty who I've worked with via campus workshops, training webinars, or in our Faculty Success Program. These folks spend their summers engaged in consistent daily writing, participating in writing accountability groups, and staying connected to communities of support that help them through the tough times. As a result they're able to gush about their completed articles, chapters, dissertations, grant proposals, and book manuscripts, as well as the unexpected book contracts, funding, and opportunities that occurred as a result of their productivity. These individuals are energetic, engaged, empowered, and dare I say, happy about their writing progress and excited to start the new academic year.

The difference between my typical frustrated confessional conversations and the celebratory ones I have with productive daily writers is so striking that I am feeling inspired to spend the next 15 weeks walking with each one of you, week-by-week, to help you work towards managing your time in ways that will: 1) allow you to stay closely connected to your intellectual projects, 2) create time each day for academic writing, and 3) exert your personal power in the areas of your professional life where you DO have control. If you've already achieved this, feel free to unsubscribe using the button at the bottom of the page, and/or forward the Monday Motivator to someone who may find it useful.

How About A Fresh Start?

Because the beginning of the academic year is filled with fresh starts, I want to encourage you to make this week a fresh new beginning in your relationship with your writing. The best way to do so is by letting go of all the negative and debilitating feelings associated with what you have NOT done in the past. Guilt, disappointment, and frustration aren't useful energies to draw on as you move forward into a new academic year. Instead, try forgiving yourself and moving on. In other words, instead of beating yourself up, let's try using all that energy to accept that academic writing is a slow and time consuming process, create an achievable semester/quarter plan, pro-actively block out at least 30 minutes each day for your writing, and connect to whatever supportive community will meet your needs.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to do the following:
  • Let go of any past writing failures and release yourself from the negative feelings associated with not writing, producing, or finishing your work.
  • Go through your calendar for the entire term and mark out at least 30 minutes each day (Monday through Friday) for your daily writing.
  • Write down your research and writing goals for the term.
  • Stop and do a quick reality check by asking yourself: are these goals realistic for ONE semester or quarter?
  • Map out the work that will be required to meet your goals and connect that work to specific weeks in your calendar.
  • Commit yourself internally to making changes that will allow you to move your writing projects (whatever they may be) out the door.
  • Choose some form of community that will support you through the ups and downs of your writing over the next 15 weeks.
I hope this week brings you a fresh start for the new academic year, clarity about your writing goals, and a new spirit of confidence to move forward!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sony a6000 Mirrorless camera - Black Friday November 2015 Price Prediction

Test the limits of your creativity with the premium mirrorless DSLR that's focused on speed. Every artistic shot you take-from fast-action to candid-benefits from 24.3MP detail and the world's fastest auto focus. For capturing crucial moments that go by in a blink, the A6000 can shoot 11 photos in one second. It's compact and easy to use, too. Two quick-access dials let you change settings on the fly. Very intuitive.

During the previous Black Friday 2014, Sony a6000 with kit lens listed for $599 and body only for $448. Its older brothers, a5000 with lens for $298 and a5100 body for $348.

Sony Alpha A6000 (body) on Amazon $448 ($200 off)
Sony Alpha A6000 with 16-50mm lens on Amazon $598 ($200 off)
Sony Alpha A6000 with 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses on Amazon $748 ($400 off)

Few months back there was a sick deal for a refurbished a6000 with kit lens,
Buydig.com had a Sony Alpha A6000 Camera w/ 16-50mm Lens (Refurbished: White) with 1-Year Warranty on sale for $439.

So I believe similar discounts this year for the a6000 because of the rumored APS-C E-mount camera  (a7000 or a6100?) above A6000 going to release this fall. Which is said to has,
It has a new 24MP sensor with ISO range of 100-51,200.
15fps continuous shooting with AF.
30fps continuous shooting in “4K Mode”. This is similar to Panasonic 4K Photo Mode.
Still no touchscreen, but it has a new 2.8M dot OLED EVF. Rear monitor is 3″ 1.04M dot and is now fully articulating.
Mic input support.
It will have lots of exciting video features previously not seen on Sony APS-C cameras.
This camera will be placed above A6000 and target users that need both stills and video features. A6000 will continue to be sold as is.
Here's my predictions for the A6000 with kit lenses, this Black Friday November 2015,

Sony Alpha A6000 (body) $298
Sony Alpha A6000 with 16-50mm lens $398
Sony Alpha A6000 with 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses $550

Monday, August 10, 2015

[Monday Motivator] Dancing With Resistance - August 10, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

Last week I encouraged each of you who are dedicated to daily writing to track your resistance. I am glad that the experience was an eye-opening one for many of you! No matter how much we think we know our resistance generally speaking, there’s nothing quite like collecting a week’s worth of data on the specific ways that our bodyguard works to stop us from writing each day. And as great as it is to become increasingly self aware, this week I want you to use the information you collected to create your very own, completely personalized resistance diagnostic.

What is a Resistance Diagnostic?
It’s very simple. Most daily writers experience some type of resistance to their writing on a regular basis, whether it's avoidance, procrastination, or denial. If you don’t, that’s great. If you do, you’re perfectly normal. Last week we worked towards noticing what’s going on when weshould be writing, but find ourselves actually engaged in behavior that has nothing to do with writing. It’s great to pause and identify what we’re doing. It’s even better to get yourself back to the task of writing. But if you’re like most writers I know, some days it's easier than others to get back to the writing! What I like to do is to keep my Resistance Diagnostic within reach, so that no matter how I’m feeling, no matter what is behind my NOT writing, I can quickly remember a strategy, skill, or technique to get me back on track and implement it.

For example, last week my resistance manifested in the following ways: feeling so overwhelmed I couldn’t get started, various perfectionist spasms, a variety of avoidance behaviors (email, Facebook, reading blogs), denial that anything I’m doing matters, low energy, terror in the presence of a blank page, and that vague feeling that I just don’t wanna write. I’ve faced each one of these before, and I’ve experimented with a variety of skills and strategies to move around each one. Some have worked great, some haven’t worked at all, and I’ve kept track of the difference. So whenever I experience a particular form of resistance, instead of stopping and trying to remember what I did the last time I had this experience (which would very likely take me down a whole new path of distraction), I just whip out my Resistance Diagnostic, locate my resistance-of-the-moment in the left hand column, and look next to it to see the most successful strategy I’ve employed to move around it. Having the solution right at my fingertips reminds me that: 1) I’ve faced this type of resistance before, 2) I’ve successfully moved around it in the past, and 3) I have as many tools to dance with my bodyguard as he has to derail me from writing.

My Resistance Diagnostic

Feeling overwhelmed by a taskIdentify the task you're avoiding and use mind-mapping to break it down into even smaller component parts. Then start to work on the easiest part by promising yourself that it only has to last the smallest possible time you can stand (5 minutes is okay, but 15 minutes is best). Make sure you have a juicy treat for the break immediately thereafter.
PerfectionismLower your standards and be specific about what the criteria is for being "done” with the task in front of you for today. Remind yourself: perfect doesn’t happen in a day. Set the timer for 15 minutes and start writing.
Avoiding writing with irrelevant stuffTry a trigger phrase that will bring your attention back to your writing. For example, when reading blogs during writing time ask yourself: does this matter? or is this moving me towards ________ (my long term goals?) If the answer is "no,” set the timer and return to writing.
Wondering if any of this hard work really matters?Look at things that remind you of the value of your work, why it matters, or anything that makes you feel good about your work. Set the timer for 5 minutes, open your "thank you” file, and read some of the notes people have sent you about how your work has impacted their life. When the timer goes off, start writing.
Low motivationBribe yourself with the promise of a treat when the timer goes off.  Then set the timer and start writing.
I just don’t wanna write today! Remind yourself about all those who have come before you and/or all the sacrifices others have made to help you get to where are today. Affirm:
  • I come from strength.
  • I come from a line of strong and resourceful people.
  • The energy of all those who came before me is supporting me as I move forward today.
Then set the timer for 15 minutes and write.
Low energyPlay a short blast of whatever music will lift your mood, motivate you, or make you feel energized. If all else fails, cue up MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This, get up and dance. Then set the timer for 15 minutes and start writing.
Frozen and terrified of a blank pageGo straight to Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die (set it for Kamikaze Mode).
Can’t write and don’t know whyPick up the phone and call a trusted peer-mentor. Set the timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, get off the phone, restart the timer for 15 minutes, and start writing.

What Would A Resistance Diagnostic Look Like For You?
What you’ll notice about my success strategies is that none of them involve stopping to try and unravel the cause of my resistance. Your writing time is not the moment to work towards resolving deep seated perfectionism, disempowerment, hyperactive inner critics, unclear goals, and/or your fear of success. Your writing time is the time you want to spend writing, so the strategies for that moment are the ones that will move you into writing immediately. You can work on the bigger issues later, but remember that your writing time is just for writing.

You’ll also notice that my tried and true maneuvers around resistance are the ones that workfor me. In other words, while an MC Hammer dance party never fails to lift my energy, I'm quite certain that it won't work for most people -- and that's okay. What matters is identifying what works for YOU. Start by pulling up that list of the resistance YOU experienced last week. Use that to fill in the left hand column of your own diagnostic table. Then start filling in the success strategies that have worked for you in the right hand column. This may seem a little silly in the moment, but when you’re trying to squeeze the most out of that precious 30 minutes of writing in a busy teaching day, having your Resistance Diagnostic at hand will QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY move you into your writing.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes
  • Track your resistance if you were unable to do so last week. It’s simple, just notice what you are doing or thinking whenever you are not writing during your scheduled writing time.
  • If you tracked your resistance, spend 10 minutes creating your own Resistance Diagnostic Table.
  • Put it where you can quickly and easily get your hands on it during your daily writing (on your physical desk or computer desktop is best).
  • When you experience resistance this week, try pulling it out, locating your resistance, and trying the strategy that’s been successful in the past.
I hope this week you experience the familiarity and deepening positive relationship with your bodyguard that a Resistance Diagnostic enables! If you can shift your perspective from one of trying to permanently banish your bodyguard to one where you love, accept, and appreciate your bodyguard, your daily encounter with resistance will slowly change from an agonizing struggle to a sweet little dance.

[Monday Motivator] Track Your Resistance - August 3, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

Throughout this summer, I’ve dedicated the Monday Motivator to helping readers better understand and develop a relationship with their resistance to writing. This week, I want to go a little deeper into that evolving relationship by encouraging each of you to engage in an exercise I call "Resistance Tracking.” It’s a deceptively simple exercise, but one that I've seen have such a powerful impact on those who commit to actually doing it that I thought I would share it with you.

Why Track Our Resistance?
We’ve talked a lot about resistance this summer, but I think we need to move from just talking about it towards getting smarter about moving around it. You know you’re experiencing resistance when you want to do something and you should do something, but you just aren’t doing it. For academic writers, it means that you want to finish your ____________ (dissertation/book/article/grant proposal) so that you can ______________ (finish your degree/move on with your life/get a job/get tenure/move your ideas into the world). And yet, you’re just not doing it! It may be that you keep procrastinating the act of sitting down to write.

If you’re reading this, it’s more likely that you’ve committed to daily writing, but when you sit down each day something happens. Maybe you get a strong urge to check email, Facebook, or the news. Maybe you suddenly feel a bodily need that you must fulfill before you get started writing (hunger, thirst, too cold, too hot, etc...). Maybe you become suddenly distracted by your immediate environment that must be cleaned or organized before you can concentrate on writing. Maybe some unresolved conflict (that has nothing to do with your writing) must be resolved before you can get focused on your intellectual work. Or maybe you find yourself gazing out the nearest window, thinking about the meaning of life and wondering whether you are wasting yours cranking out work that very few people will read. Each of these examples illustrate the most common forms of academic resistance: procrastination, avoidance, and denial. And, of course, if you should happen to be experienced and nimble in moving beyond these basic forms of resistance and actually start writing, a new and deeper well of resistance often arises in the form of your inner-critic(s).

If you experience any of this resistance, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re a perfectly normal academic writer. While I’ve encouraged you throughout the summer to better understand yourresistance and explore the fears that lie underneath it, this week I want to encourage you to get even more intimately acquainted with how your resistance works to keep you from doing the one thing that will have the greatest long term impact on your success in the Academy:writing for publication. The purpose of this (slightly painful) exercise is to get clear about your unique individual patterns, to both see and feel your resistance as it manifests, and to begin laying the ground work for your own personal diagnostic tool.

How To Track Your Resistance
Every day, during your writing time, keep a small notepad and writing utensil next to your desk. Throughout your writing time, you simply make a quick note of whatever comes up to keep you from writing. Some of your resistance will take the form of behaviors (clicking on Facebook, checking email, etc...) and some will take the form of thoughts ("this is awful,” "who do you think you are?," "you need to read more before writing anything else," etc...). The goal is to capture in one place everything that emerges to keep you from writing during your scheduled writing time each day this week. Please note, this will be most effective if you can resist the urge to judge your resistance. All you want to do is to view these thoughts and behaviors with compassionate curiosity, record them, and then get back to your writing.

For example, my recent resistance tracking looked like this:
  • Let me find the right Pandora station.
  • I’m thirsty.
  • I wonder how dehydration impacts cognitive performance?
  • Uh-oh, I drank too much water, now I have to pee.
  • I wonder if I’ve eaten enough protein today?
  • I should post "I’m writing” as my Facebook status so that people can send me positive writing energy.
  • I hate writing, I don't feel like doing this.
[then once I actually started writing]
  • Why didn't I start this ever earlier?
  • Why is this taking 10 times longer than expected?
  • I'm so lazy and disorganized, why can’t I get your shit together?
  • I should stop writing this before I embarrass myself!
This is pretty standard fare for me during a 30-minute writing block. I don’t need to feel embarrassed or frustrated by this list because I can see my wiggles and negative self-talk for exactly what they are: manifestations of my resistance. They are each designed by mybodyguard to keep me from writing so that I can stay safe from sharing my writing, putting my ideas into public space (for criticism and debate), and from the possibility of failure. Once I see them in writing, it becomes perfectly clear that they are simple distractions that I can maneuver around by simply acknowledging the thoughts and impulses and writing each one on my notepad. At the end of my writing time, I can assess if they are truly worth acting on. And, after a week’s worth of data, I can see the patterns in my resistance: behavioral urges at the beginning of my writing time and inner-critic outbursts towards the middle and end. I don’t know what your patterns are, but I encourage you to become interested in identifying them this week.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
  • Use your timer each day for your writing time. Trust me, this will heighten your awareness about starting and stopping your writing time, as well as what’s going on during that time.
  • Each day, notice when you feel resistance and record it.
  • Ask yourself: What’s going on here? And How do I feel?
  • If your resistance manifests as a behavior (or urge to engage in a particular behavior), record it.
  • If your resistance manifests as a strong inner-critic(s), record the dialogue and messages.
  • At the end of the week, take 5 minutes to look back over your resistance log to see if you can identify any patterns.
  • Don't throw that log away,we’ll use it next week to create a resistance diagnostic tool that’s unique to YOU. 
I hope this week brings you the energy to track your resistance, the desire to deepen your relationship with this ever-present piece of your humanity, and the confidence to know that you can move around your resistance each day no matter how it manifests.

[Monday Motivator] Lower Your Standards - July 27, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

The summertime has a way of throwing many writers into a panic. Even the most diligent academic writers who have formulated a summer plan, created support and accountability mechanisms, developed a relationship with their bodyguard, and are dedicated to daily writing, can feel the summer slipping away. This time of the summer is when many of us begin to realize that: 1) academic writing is a very slow process, 2) the brilliant ideas we started the summer with may not be quite as groundbreaking as we imagined, 3) we have grossly underestimated the amount of time our summer projects will take to complete and 4) our summer plans may need some downward revision.

The combination of these various realizations can leave dedicated summer writers feeling frustrated and the procrastinators (who haven’t yet started their writing) hesitant to begin. I have worked with thousands of academic writers, and the most common demons that underlie resistance to writing are: 1) disempowerment, 2) a hyper-active inner-critic, 3) unclear goalsand/or 4) fear of success (or failure). We've exorcised each of these demons one by one this summer in a way that encourages conscious reflection on each one and some concrete strategies to use to release the anxiety-producing elements so you can move forward in your writing. This week we are going to turn our attention to another issue underlying writing resistance: unrealistically high expectations.

Examining Your Expectations
High expectations are tricky. On the one hand, if you're reading this, you've already experienced tremendous educational success and that is likely tied to having high expectations for yourself. On the other hand, when our expectations about who we should be, how we should feel, what we should achieve, and the impact our work should have in the world are too high, unexamined, inappropriate for our current career stage, or generated from a desperate need to prove ourselves, they become a straitjacket. I’ve seen high expectations manifest in a variety of ways among academics, including:
  • Super-Professor: There are so many roles that I must perform perfectly NOW! I want to be a cutting-edge researcher, institutional change agent, transformative teacher, inspiring role model, community activist, and public intellectual all at the same time. Regrettably, I’m so busy running around trying to do all of these things simultaneously that I’m not accomplishing much of anything.
  • Instantaneous Superstar: My first book must be a discipline-shifting magnum opus! Unfortunately, I can’t actually get any words on paper because my initial attempts at a first draft feel feeble, small, and incompetent when compared to the brilliant, flawless, and award winning book I imagine producing. 
  • Super-Parent: My standard of parenting is so high that I’m perpetually exhausted (particularly in the summer months). As a result of my perfect parenting standards, I have difficulty carving out time to write during the summer and experience debilitating guilt when taking time for my writing (or myself).
Maybe these sound familiar, and I’m sure you could come up with more examples of high expectations running amok. Let’s be clear, I’m not writing this to judge anyone. Instead, I’m describing these common examples because if you suffer from the kind of high expectations that induce writing blocks, guilt, shame, or feeling not good enough, smart enough, or dedicated enough, then I want you to consider trying one of the strategies described below. At a minimum, they will provide you with ideas about how to identify immobilizing expectations, release the unhealthy components and respond in a way that gets you back to daily writing.

Strategy 1: Rethink Your Career As A Book With Many Chapters
Take 15-30 minutes of time to journal about your career from a long-term perspective. In other words, instead of feeling that you have to do everything all at once, imagine that your career is literally a book with many chapters. Each chapter represents a five-year span of time in which one type of activity is front and center. Imagine that there’s one big goal for each chapter (the title) that serves as the guiding force for your professional activities. If you’re on the tenure track, chapter one is going to be entitled Research and Writing. But the later chapters can focus on becoming a master teacher, working as a public intellectual, engaging in activism for social change, creating organizational change at your particular institution, or whatever is important to you. This type of reflection about your career over the long run often frees early-career academics from a sense of having to do everything now, and instead allows you to imagine your goals as unfolding over the length of your career.

Strategy 2: Develop A Metaphor To Understand Your Writing Process
Unrealistic expectations for the production of writing often emerge from a lack of awareness of the length, depth, and oscillations of our own writing process. I used to be in a writing group with a political scientist named Michelle Boyd who described writing as birthing. She developed an elaborate metaphor in which each stage of pregnancy (from conception to birth) had a parallel to her writing process. Fully developing this metaphor required an awareness of her own process, the time frames in which her writing occurred, and the desire to understand how her writing unfolds over time. The benefit to developing your own metaphor is that it enables you to release yourself from the idea of producing a perfect first draft (because that’s just not how anyone’s process really works). Instead you learn to understand how you move from a new idea to a complete manuscript so that you can appreciate your ideas when they are in the fragile and unformed early stages, nurture them along through revision, share them regularly with others, and watch them grow into mature and polished manuscripts.

Strategy #3: Create a 0–100 Percent Reviewer List
One of the best ways to keep unrealistically high expectations from paralyzing your writing is to share your work throughout the writing process. At any given time, I understand my own manuscripts as somewhere between 0-25 percent, 25–50 percent, 50-75 percent, or 75-100 percent complete. I keep a corresponding list of reviewers for each stage. For example, when a manuscript is 0-25% complete, I ask a particular group of people (my husband, my writing group, and my long-standing graduate school friends) to read it and provide quick feedback about the central idea. If a manuscript is 75-100 percent complete, then I send it to a different group of readers (people who are experts in my subfield) for more comprehensive feedback.

While norms for sharing manuscripts differ by discipline, the key is to avoid holding onto manuscripts until they are almost complete before you request feedback. Waiting until something is "perfect” only heightens anxiety and encourages over-investment, over-attachment and holding onto manuscripts too long. Instead, you want to continually share your work with trusted readers and ask for feedback that is appropriate to the stage it is in. Get comfortable saying things like: "Can you read this in the next week? It's at 25 percent so there's no need to line edit. I just want to know what you think about the idea." Doing so will help you to hold expectations that accurately correspond to your manuscript’s stage of development.

Strategy #4: Experiment With Lowering Your Expectations
One of the homework assignments I give my Faculty Success Program participants is to lower one of their standards every day for a week. The only rule is that they can’t lower their standards in the areas of research, writing, or personal care. But everything else is fair game: summer course preparation, household cleanliness, e-mail responsiveness, etc…, It’s amazing what happens when high achievers try lowering their standards each day. If you regularly operate with uniformly high standards across every area of your life, then lowering your standards and learning how to make conscious decisions about when and where to invest your best time and energy can feel positively liberating! Most of the time nobody even notices and you will increase the time you have available for the things that really matter.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • If you find yourself procrastinating or avoiding your writing, patiently ask yourself: What’s going on? What are my expectations? And what am I afraid of?
  • If your resistance to writing is driven by unrealistically high standards, try journaling about your career as a book with many chapters, or developing a metaphor for your writing.
  • Expand your sense of the writing process to include ongoing feedback and conversation with others by creating a 0-100% reviewer list.
  • Try adjusting how you approach your first drafts from perfectionist judgment to compassion by treating your initial writing with the same loving gentleness you would give to a baby, a puppy, a seedling, or whatever is small and fragile but will grow into something big and strong.
  • Lower one standard each day this week (other than writing, research and self care) and see what happens.
  • Try reading Peg Boyle’s excellent series on Procrastination and Perfectionism in order to better understand these issues.
  • If you’re completely lost and have no idea what you’re doing, read Wendy Belcher’sWriting Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success – it will provide you with a framework, process, and timeline for moving from idea to complete draft.
I hope this week brings you a spirit of curiosity about your writing habits, a willingness to try new techniques, and the increased engagement that comes with spending time each day with your summer writing project.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

[Monday Motivator] Assess & Adjust - July 20, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

Doesn't it seem like yesterday that we were drafting our summer plans and trying to decide what type of support systems to put in place? If you've been following the Monday Motivator Series this summer, you have many weeks of daily writing under your belt and you've survived a multitude of resistance to writing including disempowerment, hyperactive inner critics, unclear goals, and the fear of success. As we head into the back end of summer, it's time for us to practice one of my favorite strategies: assess and adjust.

Assess Your Summer Progress Thus Far
At this point of the summer, it's incredibly important to pause and assess your progress. This is not an invitation for you to beat yourself up over what didn’t get done. Instead it's an opportunity for you to honestly evaluate the effectiveness of your new writing habits, the scope of work that can realistically be accomplished before the fall term begins, and the patterns of your resistance to writing that have emerged this summer. I typically begin my assessment by pulling up my summer plan and then answering the following five questions:
  1. What goals have (and have not) been accomplished so far this summer?
  2. How consistent have I been in my daily writing routine?
  3. When, where and how has my resistance flared up?
  4. Is my current support system effective and if not, what am I willing to try?
  5. How do I feel about my answers to the previous questions?
If you have been consistent throughout the summer in updating your progress each week in your plan, you will very likely feel that an enormous amount of work HAS been done, even if it's not quite everything that you imagined back in May. So let's appreciate all the work that you have accomplished and reflect on the moments that your resistance flared up (and what it looked like when it did). This will help you to identify some important patterns. For example, this summer I realized that my resistance is strongest when I am just about to send something out. I get scared of what my readers, reviewers and/or co-authors might think of my work, so the final stage of completion is when things have turned ugly around my house. That’s great! Every piece of insight we gain about our resistance patterns makes it easier for us to manage our bodyguard in the upcoming weeks. And finally, if your support system fell apart, that’s also perfectly fine -- it’s all data for your decision making moving forward.

What Worked And What Didn't Work?
Now that you have data about your summer productivity so far, you can begin to analyze it and use it to make decisions about how you will spend the rest of your summer. It’s important to start off by identifying what HAS worked well for you. That list will help you to clarify what practices to build into your schedule for the next few weeks. For example, if morning writing works better than evening (or vice versa), then build your schedule around your optimal writing time. Next, identify what is NOT working. For example, if your voluntary support system fell apart, then consider experimenting with a different type of support system (and it may be time to experiment with paying for the support, services, and accountability you need).

Make Necessary Adjustments
You’ve assessed and analyzed, and now it’s time to revise the last part of your summer plan! When you’re ready, just follow the same steps you took for creating a summer plan the first time around: 1) list your writing goals, 2) outline the tasks necessary to achieve each of your goals, 3) map the tasks onto each week, 4) commit to executing your plan on a daily basis, and 5) set up whatever support and accountability system will help you move forward day-by-day and week-by-week. Thankfully, planning gets easier every time that you do it.

Reconnect With Your Mentors
Now is a great time to set up meetings with your mentors in the coming weeks. You can share with them all of your progress and achievements (mentors love to hear good news) and you can discuss your fall semester plan to get their feedback. I find these meetings can serve as a motivator for finishing up the last of your summer goals so that you can have a strong report of the tangible tasks you've completed during the summer months. And for whatever items didn't get accomplished, you can ask your mentors for concrete advice and support. Having structured exchanges with your mentors will not only elicit their valuable wisdom, advice, and feedback, but it also communicates the message that you are a serious, organized, and productive scholar who has clear goals and makes concrete progress towards achieving them.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
  • Write every day for 30 – 60 minutes (why stop now?).
  • Pull out your summer plan.
  • Answer the reflective questions provided above and congratulate yourself for all of the work that DID get accomplished.
  • Analyze your answers and figure out what IS and is NOT working for you.
  • Adjust the remaining time in your summer plan in a way that responds to your needs and builds in some new experimentation.
  • Set up a meeting with at least one of your mentors to discuss your summer progress and your fall research and writing plans.
I hope this week brings each of you a spirit of gratitude towards yourself for all the things you have accomplished this summer, a sense of curiosity about your own patterns, and the renewed energy that comes from assessing your reality and adjusting to make things better.

[Monday Motivator] Are You Afraid to Succeed? - July 13, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

I recently ran into a former colleague whom I’ll call Dick. He was always one of my favorites because I love scholars with big and intense personalities. Dick completed his doctorate at a top program in his discipline, struts around huffing and puffing like an ever-agitated intellectual, and aggressively attacks any professor who dares to present work-in-progress (as opposed to polished work) at his department’s brown bag. Interestingly, Dick has neither written nor published a single thing during the five years he has been on the tenure track. His bluster and verbal acuity have kept people from asking him about his self-sabotaging behavior and record-breaking procrastination. His lengthy rationalizations about how his project’s scope and depth are far too complex for daily writing are so exhausting that they have a numbing effect on the very people who might press him for details. Inexplicably, Dick has somehow managed to get through one review after another without having made any tangible progress.

Staying Stuck
I’ve met a lot of Dicks in my academic career! By that, I mean people who have all the right credentials, have received multiple fellowships to focus on writing, who perform the role of an intellectual with perfect precision, and yet their publication record is minimal. Instead they engage in various types of self-sabotaging behavior because they fear that the publication of their work will expose them, make them vulnerable to other people’s criticism, or reveal that they’re not really as smart as others believed. These scholars are often stuck in their productivity due to uncertainty about their current skills and the possibility that they won’t be able to sustain any future success they may achieve. Instead, they feel that no matter what they do it will never be enough to earn tenure, get promoted, and/or win the respect of their senior colleagues, so they don’t bother putting themselves through the work and exposure, and instead focus on the things that they can easily and readily engage in (such as the verbal exchange of ideas).

Not all Dicks have the blustery air of intellectual arrogance that my former colleague exudes. In fact, the female version more frequently involves avoiding face-to-face contact lest the individual be asked if she has written anything lately. That said, it’s not difficult to identify resistance that is driven by a fear of success. Ask yourself:
  • Are you writing for at least 30 minutes every day or have you created a story that you can’t possibly write in short periods of time?
  • Do you fail to prepare for presentations until the last minute, stay up late the night before, and/or go out drinking prior to presenting your work?
  • Do you talk a big game about your project but never actually engage in the work to make that project become a reality?
  • Do you luxuriate in negative talk about the state of academic journals, the abysmal job market, and/or the shrinking proportion of tenured faculty positions at American universities to the point that you convince yourself there’s really no reason to bother writing because your manuscript will never get published, and if it does it will only be read by five people, or that you’ll never get a job, tenure, promotion, respect, etc.?
In short, procrastination, destructive behavior, and excessively pessimistic thinking all provide the same outcome: a safe and justifiable reason to blame a lack of performance on so that you will always have an explanation about why you didn’t do well.

Looking Below The Surface
To be perfectly honest, of all the various types of resistance to writing I have described this summer, I have the greatest compassion for those suffering from a fear of success. My compassion stems from the fact that this type of fear often drives scholars into such deep isolation and avoidance that they are the least likely to reach out for help. I also know that such fear is grounded in profound insecurity, not feeling good enough, and a lack of confidence in one’s own skills. I’ve seen some tragic breakdowns among faculty who are immobilized by the fear of success. Unfortunately, they only occur after their situation has deteriorated so far that their career is in serious jeopardy (Dick's empty-handed tenure case may invoke just such a crisis). If any of this sounds familiar, I want to suggest a few ways that you can begin to move through the fear of success before a crisis arises.

Imagine Your Future
I’m a big fan of planning. Not because it’s fun (it’s not), but because the process of writing down what you want and mapping out the steps to achieve your goal is transformative. It requires you to: a) ask yourself what you really want, b) acknowledge that the road to getting it is filled with lots of small steps, and c) get honest about the fact that taking no action guarantees failure.

Create Accountability
While it is the last thing that any paralyzed writer wants to do, what you need more than anything else to overcome your resistance is weekly accountability for your writing. Because you are capable of generating sophisticated levels of denial and complex rationalizations for not writing, you need a group of people who won’t allow you to babble on endlessly about how you have a "slow process,” but instead will hold your feet to the fire in a spirit of firm and loving support. If you don’t have people in your life to do this, it may be time to plug into an existing program.

Start Writing And Preparing
Work with your accountability group to set deadlines for presentations and drafts that occur far in advance of the actual deadlines. This will help you to break the habit of last-minute sabotage and focus any evaluation of your performance on the actual substance of your work. The trick is that these deadlines will have to feel consequential, so set up other people who are expecting to review, edit, or collaborate with you on your work so that you can’t just slide through the advanced deadline without any consequences.

Reach Out To Your Mentors
It’s time to start having serious conversations with your mentors and role models about the reality of academic life. The difficulties you are experiencing are common, and asking your mentors to share how they got to where they are today and what types of failures they have experienced will give you a clearer picture of their path to success. I’ve never had a conversation with a successful person that didn’t involve devastating failures that were critically important to their eventual success.

Consider Starting The Inner Work
If you are unable to unravel why you keep sabotaging yourself by not writing and you just can’t imagine reaching out to your departmental mentors for help, it may be time to find a good therapist and start doing the inner-work that’s necessary to determine what’s standing between you and getting what you really want.

Each of these suggestions is aimed at a single outcome: breaking you out of your paralysis to take one concrete step forward. Taking any one of these steps will help you to explore what’s holding you back, connect to the support of a community of people who want to help you, and get you back to your writing. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you touched your manuscript, it’s never to late to re-engage.

The Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge you to:
  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • If you’re unable to do so, ask yourself, why?
  • If your response goes beyond organizational errors, consider the list of self-sabotaging behaviors described above and determine if your resistance is driven by a fear of success.
  • Spend 30 minutes imagining your goals and mapping out the steps that would be required to achieve them.
  • Call one of your mentors and set up time to discuss your blocked writing.
  • Join a writing accountability group to support your re-engagement with your writing project.
  • If you feel like I’ve described your situation but you can’t begin to imagine trying any of the suggested ideas, consider contacting a therapist who specializes in working with academics.
  • Resolve to take one step forward this week.
While fear of success is an incredibly difficult type of resistance to face, I hope this week brings you the clarity to identify the cause of your paralysis, the wisdom to know what first step makes the most sense for your situation, and the strength to reach out for whatever help will get you back to your writing.

Monday, August 03, 2015

[Monday Motivator] Do You REALLY Want to Be a Professor? - July 6, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

I am often contacted by faculty members after a catastrophic professional event has occurred and they realize that their productivity isn’t going to meet their department’s expectations for promotion. The most common scenario is a professor who has received a negative third-year review because she fell into the typical tenure-track trap: spending all her time on teaching and service, promising herself she would write during the breaks, and then making little progress because she’s exhausted from over-functioning in other aspects of her job. As a result, she uses her breaks to physically and mentally recover, doesn’t write, and experiences guilt and stress over her lack of productivity.

These are always difficult conversations, but I typically start with the basic organizational tips and tricks that get faculty members writing and re-connected to their research. To support this intervention, I recommend two weeks of daily writing with structured support and accountability. At the end of that time, we assess their progress. Some people get right down to business, quickly establish a writing plan, and settle into their daily writing routine. But others are so deeply blocked that they just can’t do it, so we start to work our way through the common fears underlying resistance to writing. Working through disempowerment around writing and a hyperactive inner critic helps get the vast majority of faculty moving through their writing funk. However, there’s one qualitatively different type of energy that blocks writing and that can be the most difficult to identify and resolve: unclear goals.

Get Real About Your Goals
At the most basic level, unclear goals can be problematic for academic writers who simply have no overarching research plan. For example, you may be having difficulty establishing your own research agenda independent of your dissertation adviser or post-doctoral mentor. Or it may be the case that you just keep reactively responding to opportunities that come to you instead of evaluating whether or not they make sense for your career. In other words, you react to other people’s agendas instead of proactively crafting an agenda that addresses your own substantive interests and research questions. But at a deeper and far more problematic level, resistance to writing that is driven by unclear goals is often rooted in a lack of clarity about your long-term professional goals. When I have tried everything I know to break through resistance, I typically end by asking: Do you REALLY want to be a professor?

I imagine this as a direct and easy question for a tenure-track faculty member. By that time, an individual has gone through a decade or so of graduate education and training AND survived a horrible job market. But this question is often met with nervous laughter, long pauses, and surprising hesitation. I believe this is grounded in the way that top students get steered into the academy: professors meet bright students and encourage them to consider an academic path. Once committed to a Ph.D. program, the path to the professoriate is fairly narrow and the socialization messages (you are only successful if you get a tenure-track job at a research intensive university) are both restrictive and insular. Then, in well-intentioned efforts to help graduate students become marketable, many are encouraged to apply for programs, awards, and fellowships that further commit them to the academic path without corresponding opportunities to reflect on whether (or not) academe is the right fit.

People often tell me that they became a professor because they took a course that opened their eyes and inspired them to change the world! Their professors (naturally) suggested that they consider graduate school as a way to pursue their passion. Because people often conflate a person (the inspiring professor) with their passion (change the world), it seems reasonable to pursue the same path as their role model. A decade later, when that formerly inspired student is struggling to complete their Ph.D., get a job, secure external funding, publish research, engage ambivalent undergraduates and/or just manage life on the tenure track, the realization sets in that the production of knowledge is an incredibly slow way of making social change!

Wondering whether or not you really want to be a professor is a natural thought when you’re under the stress and strain of the tenure track, when you experience moments of seemingly insurmountable conflict, or when you’re in an intractably toxic environment. The trick is to determine the difference between escape fantasies that result from feeling overwhelmed and the genuine, gut-level resistance that occurs when you REALLY know you’re on the wrong path. Below I’m going to suggest a few things you might try as ways to differentiate between momentary frustration and the need to create an exit strategy.

Write Your Story
Try taking 15 minutes to write about how and why you became a professor. I know this suggestion elicits eye-rolling and dismissal among busy and serious academics; however, the results never cease to amaze. Retelling your story in writing unearths the core elements that drew you to the ivory tower. The writing may reconnect you to your passion or reveal alternative paths.

Reconnect With What You LOVE About Your Work
I’m trained as a sociologist and it’s not uncommon to meet other sociologists who were drawn to the discipline by their passion for social justice and social change. That said, it’s easy in the hustle and bustle of daily work to become disconnected from the very communities that we belong to and/or our work seeks to represent. For individuals in this scenario, reconnecting with project participants, sharing work with the community, meeting with people on the ground to discuss research collaborations, ideas, and connections, can remind you why it’s so important for you to complete your writing projects and publish your work.

Get Some Of What's Missing Into Your Life ASAP
Escape fantasies are frequently fueled by frustration over the seemingly non-stop rejections that are a natural part of academic life. Maybe the grant proposal you poured your heart and soul into was rejected, or the article you were excited about when you wrote it two years ago has been rejected from yet another journal after being under review for nine months. All of these are normal parts of academic life, but they can make you feel like you’re stuck on a very slow-moving ship when the rest of the world’s information and innovation is zipping by at the speed of light. If this is the case, then ask yourself what’s missing and how you can get a piece of it immediately. For example, if you want to share your work more quickly, start a blog, write an article for a mainstream outlet, or join an organization that links researchers to the media as resources (such as the Council on Contemporary Families).

If what’s missing is a sense of comfort and home (because your constant work has left your living space bland and anonymous), then buy a bucket of paint, hang something on the walls, or take an evening to cook a special dinner that will fill your home with comforting smells. Or, if there’s a piece of you that has died as a result of your singular professional focus, resuscitate it by showing some of your paintings in a local gallery, taking a salsa dancing class, writing a Fulbright application to take your family out of the country, or training for a marathon. Each of these examples are drawn from faculty I know who have decided that while they are committed to the academic path, they are going to create some detours along the way.

Explore Other Options
I used to teach a leadership course, and one of the most powerful exercises in the class was identifying five role models (people who are doing exactly what you think you want to do) and interviewing them. This has a way of taking dreams from the abstract into reality. Sometimes students would find that the job they thought was ideal wasn’t what they imagined. Others quickly realize that every occupation comes with moments of fulfillment and lots of daily frustration. And sometimes, the interviews confirmed their deepest desire and they ended up making important connections, developing relationships with future mentors, and consciously moving in a different direction.

Create An Exit Strategy
It’s OK if you decide to leave a tenure-track job (if for no other reason than there are thousands of people who would love to take your place). It’s even OK if you decide to leave a tenured position to pursue other work. Everyone will tell you you’re crazy, but a lifetime guarantee of employment doesn’t feel like a privilege when you’re miserable and you really want to do something else.

These exercises are aimed at helping you to discern whether the kind of resistance to writing that you’re experiencing is fueled by unclear goals. And if so, is it a momentary block in response to the stressors of your environment or is it your true self begging you to use your tremendous gifts and talents in another professional capacity? I find that people who leave the academy because they are pushed by toxicity, frustration, institutional politics, or daily aggression quickly discover that such dynamics occur in all workplaces. But those who leave because they are pulled toward something else are often delighted by their choice and wonder why they stayed for so long.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:

  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • If you are unable to write, ask yourself: Why?
  • If your resistance is fueled by unclear goals, start by reviewing (or identifying) your research agenda and asking whether the projects you’re currently engaged in are aligned with that agenda. If they’re not, consider gracefully removing yourself from energy-sucking projects that are not moving you in a clear direction of your choosing.
  • If the mere question "Do you REALLY want to be an academic?” resonates with you, spend some time reflecting on the answer.
  • Depending on why it resonates with you, try writing your academic story, reconnecting with your passion, identifying what’s missing and pulling a piece of it back into your life, interviewing role models, or creating an exit strategy.

I hope that asking whether you really want to be a professor clarifies your own purpose by either helping to confirm your commitment OR redirect your amazing talent and energy. Either way, putting conscious thought towards answering this question will energize you and get you reconnected to your writing.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

[Monday Motivator] A Summer Pause - June 29, 2015

This is an excerpt from the Monday Motivator Program of Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Please find the original document here. The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members.

As I'm writing this week's Monday Motivator I feel like I can finally take a deep exhale. Aaaahhhhhhhh...... I'm done with all of my professional travel and have completed the first half of our largest Summer Writing Bootcamp ever. This week, I'm settling back in to my non-traveling summer rhythm and reassessing my usual routines, systems, and habits. Personally, I've found myself repeatedly pausing to ask myself: how does that work? Am I missing something? Should I try something new? My summer pause has helped me to rethink my relationships with various types of support, eliminate the things that aren't working, discover support I didn't realize I had access to, and streamline my daily activity.

It occurred to me that this might be a great week to encourage YOU to take a summer pause to reflect on your support systems, accountability structures, daily routine, and also to think about all of the great resources available to you as an NCFDD member. So this week, I want to encourage you to pause and ask:
Do I know how my NCFDD membership works?
Am I maximizing my investment in NCFDD membership?
Am I getting what I need or do I need to go deeper into the available resources?

Our annual membership is designed to operate as a year-long virtual mentorship program. That means we have set up a Core Curriculum to move you through a monthly process intended to increase your writing productivity and work-life balance. Each of the following webinars are available to you, at your convenience:

Core Curriculum Webinars
Month Topic 
January Every Semester Needs a Plan
February Align Your Time With Your Priorities
March How to Develop A Daily Writing Practice
April Mastering Academic Time Management
May Every Summer Needs A Plan
June Moving From Resistance To Writing
July The Art of Saying "No"
August Cultivating Your Network of Mentors, Sponsors & Collaborators
September Overcoming Academic Perfectionism
October Engaging in Healthy Conflict
November Strategies for Dealing With Stress and Rejection

To attend the webinars live, simply register online for the webinar link, dial-in number and PIN. If you want to listen at your leisure, you can access audio and video recordings, slides and transcripts after the call is over. To listen to previous core curriculum webinars, click here. In addition to our monthly core curriculum webinars, we offer monthly guest expert webinars that cover a wide range of topics. To view all of our upcoming webinars, click here.

Multi-Week Courses
We also offer a variety of multi-week courses on the skills faculty need to know, but nobody ever tells you: How to Write a Grant, How to Write a Book Proposal, How to Write an Article, How to Plan Your Teaching for a Stress-Free Semester, How to be Successful in the Academic Job Market, How to Develop a Social Media Strategy, and much more. You can register to take the courses live, or you can download recordings on our Multi-Week Course Page after the courses end.

The Buddy System
For members interested in having a writing accountability partner, we offer the opportunity to be matched with a writing buddy. This is designed to support the implementation of strategies covered in our core curriculum webinars, provide you with a peer-mentor, and to expand your network. If you'd like a writing buddy, email Buddies@FacultyDiversity.org and put "I'd like a writing buddy" in the subject line. We randomly match people as requests roll in.

The Monday Motivator
The Monday Motivator is our most popular membership resource. It is a weekly dose of positive energy, electronic support, and a loving nudge forward. The purpose of the weekly e-mail message is to reinforce the core ideas, skills, and strategies presented in our Core Curriculum. If for any reason you're not receiving it on a weekly basis, let us know!

Resources & Referrals
Summer is a great time to do some reading to enhance your professional development and/or try out a new support resource (professional editor, writing retreat, dissertation coach, etc...). Our resources and referrals page contains all our favorite books, articles, and preferred vendors listed in one convenient place for you.

The Weekly Challenge
This week, I challenge you to:
  • Write for at least 30 minutes each day (Monday through Friday).
  • Take a summer pause to ask yourself: how does my NCFDD membership work? Am I maximizing my investment? Should I try to utilize a resource I haven't tried before?
  • If you've missed any of our webinars and they sound interesting to you, take a look at our webinar calendar, download the recordings and slides, put your feet up, and enjoy!
  • If you're already maximizing the NCFDD membership resources and benefiting from them, why not forward this message to a friend and encourage them to become a member. We love your referrals!
I hope this week brings each of you an opportunity to take a summer pause to make sure you are making the most of your NCFDD membership and to check-in with yourself to see if your needs are being met!