Concentration Tips from Your Media-Saturated Academic Editor: Part Two

Last time, I shared with you a couple of hard-earned, concrete tactics that I deploy in my quest to remain productive, focused, and fulfilled. As a result of those and other habits, I’m mostly successful in reaching my work objectives. I promised that I’d explain the overarching, undergirding system at work in my methods of concentrating and being productive. That makes up the second half of this post, but first I think it prudent to explain how I measure the first downs of my working routine. (The painfulness of that metaphor relates directly to my superficial knowledge of sports, especially American football. Bear with me, folks. I’d never leave such a clumsy figure of speech in a manuscript, but the imagery seems to fit this topic.) Work toward Output, Not Time Lots of productivity guides suggest setting time goals. The very influential Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day is one of them, and I do suggest that dissertators check out that book. The logic is this: once you get started on an unintimidating, timed goal (e.g., fifteen minutes of writing), you’ll keep going and achieve your big dreams. This is undeniably much better than never starting a project because it is too daunting when taken as a whole. At times, that strategy has worked for me. Usually, however, I have to work toward an output goal: writing two hundred fifty words, editing five pages, drafting one blog post, emailing three university presses. Working toward output instead of time keeps me project focused, which allows the work itself to motivate me. And that means that I enjoy myself...

Concentration Tips from Your Media-Saturated Academic Editor: Part One

I edit for psychologists, but I’m not one of them. I’m also not a productivity guru. But lately I’ve realized that I do have my own tricks for staying on task and getting things done. Let me address the big picture. I’m pretty in touch with the fact that I have a life of some luxury. I may not have monetary wealth, but I’m overeducated and a member of the creative class. Most of my clients and colleagues are in similar situations. This means that, by and large, I work on projects that I enjoy on some level. I decide what work I do and when I do it. With that freedom come the known dangers of derailment and avoidance, and I’m not above either. Media—all kinds, but especially the at-my-fingertips, online variety—is what tempts me. We talk about our media-saturated culture; I’m a media-saturated citizen. My curious, sponge-like spirit is the same that led me to pursue a life in scholarship and research, so I expect many of you academics reading this share the propensity to seek out and consume news, culture, and even asinine Internet babble. Search it out though I have, effective anti-procrastination advice is hard to find. Realistically, I suppose, not all productivity devices work for everyone, and the trick is to find the ones that fit my particular personality and circumstances. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the concrete methods that I use to keep on task and stay happy. As a result, I’m pretty darn productive. The following tactics work for me, but I make no bones about my idiosyncrasies. Prioritize Two Very Different...

Style Sheets for Academic Writers

Tweed provides a style sheet with every completed editing job. The writer can use the style sheet as a guide to the edits I’ve made and as a crib sheet for cleaning up future documents even before they’re edited. But What is a Style Sheet? A style sheet is a record of types of changes made during the editing process and often covers the following aspects as they pertain to the document at hand: capitalization hyphenation use of italics spelling punctuation formatting Usually, a style sheet only includes decisions that differ from or are more specific than what can be found in the prevailing style guide (in publishing, it’s often The Chicago Manual of Style). For Tweed’s purposes, however, I include not just a list of terms and ad hoc rules but also some guidelines that I think will benefit the writer as he interprets my edits and goes on to other writing projects. Sample Style Sheet for Academic Editing This is a sample style sheet (PDF), mocked up from work I’ve done on a wide variety of projects. Despite the disparate content, this sample gives you a sense of what a style sheet is and what it can do for you as a writer. I usually phrase entries as sentences so that they are most useful to writers. It must be said, however, that no style sheet is a replacement for a style guide or mastery thereof. I don’t list every editing decision that I make; I focus on the ones most important for the document and hand and that I think a writer could rather easily understand,...

Alternative Dissertation Binding: Blurb

UPDATE: Blurb has created a Microsoft Word add-in that’s designed to make this process much easier. It’s only for Windows environments right now, so I (a Mac user) haven’t tried it. But it looks very promising. About one year after first Blurbing, I’m realizing how beneficial it is to have a handsomely bound volume. I’m revisiting my dissertation, this time as if I were reading a book off the shelf—in fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing. And I’m able to see just how strong the research and writing actually are. It’s great motivation for moving on to publishing articles from chapters and putting together a proposal for presses. By the time I finished my PhD, my university had done away with hard-copy dissertation submissions. All I had to do was generate a PDF of my work and upload it to the UMI ProQuest servers for inclusion in its database. The process was easy enough, but it was hardly what I would call tangibly satisfying. Online submission freed me to have a little fun with the dissertation binding. I looked into traditional binderies that offer embossed leather covers—in boring typefaces, with lengthy turnaround times, and at high prices. I peeked at what mass-market services like FedEx Office and the UPS Store could do for me. Those options were cheap but even less aesthetically inspiring. Then I noticed Blurb. At first, I thought of it as one of those websites that produce glossy photobooks (which I happen to love). But then I noticed its black-and-white-text format for hardcover books made of words (and grayscale images, if desired). Blurb construes itself as...

Tour the Updated Site

I’ve been rolling out some site updates over the past few weeks, and I’m excited to share them with you now. First and foremost, Tweed’s home page has been revamped to include a central graphic that is both more dramatic and informative than the previous iteration. The explanatory text below the new image aids readability and therefore inclusivity. The new about page explains how I got into academic editing and my commitment to advancing scholarship by working with writers like you. And there’s a brand-new image of me shot by none other than Posy Quarterman, a talented photographer who really captures the heart of her subjects. (Can’t you just see in my eyes how much I love academic editing?) Designer Jeff Hendrickson also contributed greatly to the recent site updates: he smartened up the header image that appears on every single page. The services page and the resources page are easier to navigate, and I’ve added to the clients page so that it reflects more recent work. Please don’t forget about Tweed’s library of tools for scholarly writers. Feel free to share the complimentary resources with your colleagues. By sharing Tweed’s carefully created content, you help me in my mission to advance scholarship and scholarly writers. You may also notice that I’ve begun using only an initial capital in the name of the practice: Tweed. The completely capitalized “TWEED” has always been, at its core, a design decision. The website header remains in all capitals, but I have switched to “Tweed” in running text. I think this is becoming of an established editing practice and makes copy more readable....