Episode 55: Why Writing is the First Thing to Go
We have an opportunity, at any time, but especially at this moment in time, to rise from the ashes of what has come before to remake our careers and our lives as academics.
On the next few episodes of The Academic Womxn Amplified I’m talking about how to rise from the ashes of 2020 to make 2021 the year you take control and redefine your career.
Why does writing often fall to the bottom of the list? How can you rethink your vision, mission and goals to help you get your work into the world in a way that feels right to you? We have the opportunity at this moment in time to rebuild, reimagine and reinvent our academic lives.
During Tough Times, Writing Suffers
I know what it is to have writing fall to the bottom of the list, or completely off a cliff, during trying and traumatic times.
While I was going up for tenure, my 10-month old son became seriously ill. For a solid week I was in the hospital with him, and completely out of contact with my students. For months afterward, I suffered from total exhaustion which very nearly put me in the hospital.
During the 2017-18 academic year, Hurricane Maria hit and devastated Puerto Rico. Personal and national trauma resulted in a way that is hard to convey to anyone who has not lived through natural disaster.
From these times of intense stress, I learned two things that have informed my continued career and that can be drawn on during the current times:
1. I have to rest.
Rest has to be a priority, it can’t be an afterthought. My whole career does not work without rest.
2. Priorities get very clear when tragedy strikes.
Tragedy snaps our vision back onto what is truly important to us. When that happens, remember what those priorities are, don’t lose sight of them when things go back to “normal”.
In both of these cases, I moved into what I have dubbed “minimum viable semester”. The bare minimum of what had to get done was all that got done. Writing, understandably, moved to the bottom of the list. It wasn’t feasible to keep up on a robust practice.
Moving Past Minimum Viable Semester
I’ve been there, in minimum viable semester mode. And we have all been there in these last months as Covid has completely changed the landscape of academia. In March, we were paddling as hard as we could just to keep above water. Here we are in November and not a whole lot has changed. So I propose that it’s time to take stock of where we are, change the vision of where we’re going, and move past minimum viable semester.
“It’s time to soar into 2021 like a phoenix.”
The Phoenix Rising
This is the right time to remake your career vision, because the world needs your contribution! To rise like a phoenix in 2021, consider these actions:
Complete a Values Inventory. Have you been glorifying busy? Accepting that overwork and exhaustion are part of the package? Working toward someone else’s idea of milestones?
- Define your mission. What is your personal, specific desire for your work in the world?
- Align your work to that mission.
- Shift your milestones to reflect your values (tenure doesn’t have to be your milestone!).
Create Systems. Creating individualized systems supports your vision and helps your writing withstand future hard times.
- They are adaptable.
- They save you time and energy and help you maintain boundaries
- They support your mission and values.
- They help you keep your writing at the center of your career.
Become Part of the Phoenix Cohort. We are nick-naming the upcoming cohort for my Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap program The Phoenix Cohort, because we are ready to help you rise from the ashes of 2020 in 2021!
If you’re ready to repair your relationship with writing, get strategic with it and turn it into a driver for your career rather than something you think of with dread, get your spot on the waitlist now! Doors will open for sign-ups for Black Friday to Cyber Monday only, so be sure you don’t miss it by signing up here to get on our waitlist.
“To be successful, to bring that work that is your academic mission into the world, you need to organize your career around writing.”
Make 2021 Your Year
This is the perfect time to make changes to our systems, our missions, and ourselves. It’s time to take a fresh look at how we are approaching our careers, and how we are showing up at our institutions. Let’s make a commitment to reimagine, remake, and rebuild our academic lives.
“Academia, the way we’ve been socialized to do it, is unsustainable.”
Need some help finding time to write right NOW? Grab my free 10 Way to Make Time to Write cheat sheet for actionable ideas to get started with.
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