At some point or another we’ve all had one. That draft that is almost done, but not quite ready to submit for publication. Maybe it’s a dissertation chapter, a conference paper, or an excellent seminar paper. It’s really written already, but it needs an extra push to actually get it out the door.

In this post I want to talk about that almost-done article, what’s holding you back, and some creative ways to give yourself that push to submit.

Mindset

Let’s start with the mindset side. First, some tough love. Almost done is not done. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty–quite the opposite, actually. I feel very strongly that more voices (especially women’s voices) need to be heard in academia. So I’m saying this to light a fire under your butt.

While your academic article is sitting there almost done, it is not working for you. It is not working for the people who your research serves. It is not working for your field.

As academics, there are many ways in which we can make an impact, but everyone knows that publication is right up there at the top of the list. A publication not only disseminates your work, but it helps move the needle on your career. Publications mean more job security, which means you are more relaxed and better able to make a positive contribution to your family and your field.

Your mindset around publication needs to come from a place of (1) helping you to be centered, focused, and less stressed in your career by meeting tenure requirements (or if you are pre-job, by meeting job qualifications), (2) serving the people who your research will help, and (3) moving your field forward in a positive way.

If you are thinking, “my research does not serve anybody and neither does it move the field forward,” then you have some mindset work to do. That’s great because now you know what’s holding you back.

Time Management

Everyone is busy. Especially you. How do we find time to do things that are important to us?

The simple answer is that we prioritize them over other things. You’ll need to sharpen your skills at saying no. You’ll need to outsource things that other people can do for you (child care? cleaning? grading?) and then let go of those things and let the other person do it their way. And be very economically savvy about this: if you invest a little bit of money to free up a few hours of your time that lead to you submitting more publications, what is the payoff for you? Is it promotion? Is it a job? Is it tenure? Well then that small investment now pays off big later.

You can also “make time” by using the time you do have more efficiently. For example, if you hit your most productive writing times to work on your publications then the writing process will take less time overall. (To learn how to do this you can check out this video on how to take advantage of your best writing times.)

High-Impact Choices

At the end of the day, you want to get to the point where you are acting every day towards your goals, not reacting to things that get thrown at you. This involves a lot of self-discipline and daring. Daring to say no to things that eat up your time and don’t advance your career. Daring to put some obligations aside in order to make high-impact choices.

Spending time on writing for publication is a high-impact choice. The pay off for several hours invested in writing your academic article is bigger than the payoff for several hours invested in committee work, or for taking your lesson plan from very good to great. If you want to publish more, sometimes you have to accept very good as good enough in other areas of your work and life. Like maybe your house isn’t clean to the level that you would like. Maybe you’ve wanted to update your lecture slides. The lecture will be good enough (because you are doing it and you are awesome!). The house is clean enough. Choose to spend time taking that almost done publication to submitted, because that will have a much higher positive impact on your career than other activities you could be doing.

What to Do to Finish the Article

So if you’re still with me to this point, then you probably are convinced that it’s time to take that almost done potential article and actually revise and submit it. But maybe you’ve been telling yourself that for a while and it still hasn’t happened.

To help you out, I run a Virtual Writer’s Retreat periodically throughout the year.We’ll spend four days preparing to revise and ten days revising, with the goal of submitting to your target journal at the end of the retreat. They’ll be accountability and sharing in a Facebook group, live Q&A, and mini-trainings designed to get you to your goal of submission. All you need is that 80% finished draft and the decision to commit to two hours a day during the retreat. Click the button to get all the details, including the day-by-day breakdown of what we’ll do.

You can do this. You are almost there! Now it’s time to get all the way to hitting that submit button. Please share this post with a friend, and sign up for the retreat together! If you have any questions or need more info, comment below or send me an email at cathy@cathymazak.com.

Best (just kidding, that sounds SO academic ;)),

Cathy

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