Tag Archives: writing

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On Writing: Anne Lamott

laptop and notebook

One of the things that most frequently causes writers to feel stuck or frustrated is trying to write and edit at the same time. These are two very different cognitive activities, and examining your last three sentences for flaws is a sure way to block the creative impulse that might lead to the next sentence.

The answer, of course, is to write what Anne Lamott calls “a shitty first draft” in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

Very few writers really know what they are doing un…

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On Writing: Paul J. Silvia

pen and notebook

As summer is heavy-duty writing time for many academics, it also seems like a good time to revisit some favorite advice about writing. Thus the beginning of an occasional series of posts this summer on writing about writing.

It’s crucial to be able to measure your progress on a writing project in some way. Tracking your progress on any desired behavior or habit has been shown to improve your adoption of the new habit, simply from focusing your awareness of your behavior through your tracking me…

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Researching While Administrating

a pile of binders

Although at ProfHacker we tend to write from the point of view of faculty members, it’s also the case that many folks will move into an administrative, or at least quasi-administrative, role for some period in their career. (I’ve seen departments where everyone takes a turn being chair, for example.)

It’s a mistake to think of a shift into administration as necessarily a death knell for one’s research, although obviously the pace or focus of that research might change. (This is a topic of spec…

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The Privilege to Write

Girl and boy writing on Blackboard

[This article is co-authored with Chris Gilliard.  Chris (@hypervisible) has been a professor for 20 years, teaching writing, literature, and digital studies at a variety of institutions, including Purdue University, Michigan State University, the University of Detroit, and currently Macomb Community College. He is interested in questions of privacy, surveillance, data mining, and the rise in our algorithmically determined future.

The article is also inspired by public and private conversations…

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Making Time for Deep Work

cat on desk

As Jason noted a year ago in his review of Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Newport’s central claim will seem familiar to many academic readers: deep work — extended concentration on challenging problems — is both extremely valuable and difficult to commit to. If you’re used to jockeying among multiple browser tabs and responding to notifications all the time, your brain will crave that extra stimulus when you try to settle down to work more deeply….

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Visualize Your Document Changes with Draftback

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Recently, I was introduced to this cool Chrome extension called Draftback. It works with your Google Docs to track the changes you (or your students or collaborators or whoever) have made in the document and allows you to visualize them.

When you click on the Draftback box now located in the top right corner of your Google Doc, you can generate a playback of the changes. I chose a collaboratively-written document that my students wrote last year. As you can see, there were almost 3500 changes m…

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Write Collaboratively with Authorea

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Authorea is a new online platform for collaborative academic writing with features that will particularly appeal to scientific and technical users. We’ve written before at ProfHacker about Markdown, LaTeX, Git, version control, and collaboration; Authorea is located at the intersection of those tools and topics.

Upon creating your account, you are asked “How do you normally write documents?” with MSWord, LaTeX, and Markdown as the three choices. (You can change your default user setting, or cha…

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Procedures for Creativity: How to Use the Tarot

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So I never really thought I’d write a post about tarot cards, but The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life comes with a fascinating proposition: Just as writers and artists have used the tarot, or variations of it, for centuries as part of their creative process, so too can any writer use it as a way to gain insight into how to write more productively.

One reason The Creative Tarot is so interesting–interesting enough that I spent my own money on it, and didn’t work from a review…

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How Twitter Changed My Life

One evening last week, while watching hockey (HOCKEY IS BACK) and scrolling though twitter, I noticed a hashtag that had started to trend: #HowTwitterHasChangedMyLife. Of course, the hashtag was filled with funny and nonsensical, and more than a little sarcastic, tweets, but if it’s crossing my field of vision, it means those associated with higher education have discovered it.

Going through the hashtag, it’s amazing to see how many friendships and relationships have been formed over the social …

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Virtual Techniques for Co-writing

Over the past year, I’ve found myself involved in more collaborative writing projects. This isn’t really something that came up in my discipline in grad school, where everything I worked on was written alone. These projects are much harder to organize than my solo work: often, they span several platforms, multiple email threads, chats, and files.

I’ve noticed that everyone I work with has a different preference for technologies and strategies. Here are a few I’ve been using, and their advantage…