Failing and Falling

coaching, creative work, productivity
I listen to a productivity podcast (Productivity Alchemy) on which the host, Kevin Sonney, asks all of his interview subjects roughly the same six questions about how they organize their lives, how they stay on track with their goals, and what advice and processes they regularly use. His last question is always "What do you do when you fail?" Kevin interviews a lot of creative people. His wife is the writer Ursula Vernon and they have tons of friends in the art and publishing worlds and those friends give him interviews and let him be nosy about their personal productivity habits. Frequently these interview guests chafe at the very notion of failure. "I don't think of it as failure." "Failure is really just another way to say 'learning opportunity'." And…
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Creative Scholarship

coaching, creative work
I get great ideas in the shower. While I wash my face or scrub my scalp, I think, "oooh what if I offered a writing retreat in Niagara wine country?" or  "I bet a membership site with mini-coaching sessions offered regularly would be a hit!" And then, by the time I'm dry and dressed, the idea has either vanished, or it has paled somewhat under the harsh light of reality. Practical considerations of time and money and influence and reach and acceptability and the like all crowd in around my idea and convince me that, yeah, while it might be an interesting notion, it isn't one for me to consider right now. In other words--I get scared and back away. I don't want to know how many times I've backed…
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Writing Resources

creative work, productivity, services
Right now, a small group of writers and I are about 1/3 of the way through a my ten-week course to Get Your Book Done (or make crazy serious progress on an important writing project). One major theme that has emerged in the first couple of weeks is "keeping myself honest." All of the participants know that we can tell ourselves any number of things: I'm going to get up every morning at 5 am and write for two hours I can totally have this chapter finished by the end of the term These revisions are minor; they won't take much I love this project; it'll be easy to stick with But telling someone else that you're committed to finishing the chapter, finishing the draft, sending off the revisions, etc.…
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The Dip

creative work, Little Hater
I failed #NaNoWriMo 2017. I know that it is now January 2018 and I'm a little late to announce this. I stopped writing about 19 days in, as I realized that there were simply too many gaps in the story I was trying to write. There was too much I didn't know about my dad. And as I ran out of "stories about my dad" that I've told in anecdote form over the years and entered into emotional terrain, my urge to write ground to a halt. That emotional terrain is important, though, because that is the legacy my father left me. When I set out to write about my childhood and my father, I knew I was going to run into uncomfortable emotional territory. Memoir writing makes this likely,…
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Mindfulness, Creativity and Being Comfortable with Uncertainty

creative work, productivity, services, Uncategorized
The interwebz are full of articles extolling the virtues of mindfulness. You can find encouragement to practice mindfulness whether you are a reader of Forbes, The Guardian, Time, Harvard Health, or Cosmo!  It appears that any industry or endeavour can point to mindfulness or meditation and draw connections between being aware and paying attention, non-judgmentally, to the present moment as a way to boost well being and productivity and reduce stress, burnout, and fatigue. I'm on board. I know that when I take even 10 or 15 minutes a day to sit and watch my brain work and remind myself that I am not my thoughts my days go better, my mood is more stable, I am less likely to lose my temper or be irritated by little things, and…
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Book Review–The War of Art

book review, creative work
You've probably heard of Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. (2002) And if you haven't, never fear, this short review is here to help. Before I get there, though, you might want to know that Pressfield wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, is a former Marine, and was made an honorary citizen of Sparta, Greece. Take from the above: Golf Marines Spartan warrior ethos Add in: William Blake Angels Muses Don't forget: Actual time doing the work and overcoming Resistance. And you've got Pressfield's recipe for overcoming your creative blocks. He's not alone. Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich from the 1930s and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret from 2006 both cover some of the same territory. Pressfield occupies a singular…
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5 Tips for Taking On #AcWriMo

coaching, creative work, networking, productivity
And since you should be writing anyway . . . here are a few ways to approach a BIG writing push during the month of November. You can make your daily goal about time spent writing, number of words, number of items dealt with (annotations, notes, etc.). Whatever makes sense for your biggest priority project at its current stage is a great goal for #AcWriMo. Daily is HARD but it isn't impossible. As we all know, even fifteen minutes per day will slowly but surely amass enough words to move a project from where it is now to where it needs to be next. Commit to at least one writing session per day during the month and stick to it. You and your physical or virtual writing group can keep…
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Feminist Leadership

book review, creative work, networking
Earlier this year, I co-wrote an article on technology, silo-ing, and the affordances of intersectional feminist leadership with my husband, Dale. The book in which that article appears is now out and if you are an academic leader of any stripe, you should really take a look at it. Feminists Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership. Eds. Shirley Yew & Baharak Yousefi. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-63400-027-7 Dale and I decided to join forces and write something that addresses our individual passions in a collective way. His interest in library leadership, mentoring the next generation of leaders and managers in academic libraries, and the persistent cultural divide around "hard" technical skills and "soft" people skills in the library combined with my commitment to teaching and…
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Groupwork: 5 Ways an Academic Mastermind Group Can Recharge Your Career

creative work, productivity
Do Mastermind groups, with their hot seats and business optimization strategies, sound squarely corporate to you? One of the things I've been learning during the last year and a half of transitioning out of academia and into the world of coaching and becoming a small business owner is that some of the tools and tricks of the business world deserve a second look by most academics. Even if the verbiage or the packaging don't resonate with you, the concepts behind a lot of leadership training have a lot to offer graduate students, professors, researchers, and writers of many stripes. Briefly, a Mastermind group is a small group of people (ten is probably too big) who come together to achieve their own personal and professional goals, relying on mutual support, inspiration,…
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How’s Your Book Coming Along?: 5 Ways to Jump Start Your Big Project

creative work, productivity, Uncategorized
How is your dissertation coming along? Are you STILL working on that book? You've probably heard variations of that question over and over again in your academic career. And the question can be uncomfortable because the asker might not understand the timetable for something like a dissertation or a monograph and you grow weary of explaining. OR the question can be uncomfortable because, well, you probably should have had it done a long time ago. Writing is hard work. Writing something about which you care deeply and which will be used to evaluate you professionally for years to come is doubly so. But whether you're working on an article, a dissertation, your first book, or your seventeenth, you don't have to do it alone. Whether you want formal accountability or…
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