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...

Trade Tool: Hyphenation Tables

Many of the tools I use as a professional academic editor could be used (and well!) by thoughtful writers and revisers, so I’ve decided to start featuring some of the handier implements and resources that are part of my editing routine. This first one I actually keep in my dock. (That’s the menu bar across the bottom of my Mac’s desktop.) It’s The Chicago Manual of Style’s hyphenation table. Found in chapter seven of the big orange book, the chart summarizes Chicago’s logic regarding compounds and provides very specific examples. Let me back up for a second: Chicago has a few foundational guidelines for the treatment of compounds (to hyphenate or not?). First, recognize that compounds tend toward closure. As it becomes more common, a term that’s open (“data base”) will probably become hyphenated (“data-base”) and then eventually close completely (“database”). Second, a compound modifier appearing before the term (usually a noun) that it modifies tends to be hyphenated: “at-risk students” versus “students at risk.” Those are the most important general trends to be aware of in order to treat compounds according to Chicago style. The hyphenation table itself contains four main sections: compounds according to category compounds according to parts of speech compounds formed with specific terms words formed with prefixes So you want to know how to handle a fraction? Section 1 includes “fractions, compounds formed with” and “fractions, simple.” There, we find examples such as “one and three-quarters” and general rules. Compounds formed with fractions (“quarter-hour session”) are open in noun form and hyphenated as adjectives. Simple fractions are hyphenated all the time unless the second...

An Ever-Expanding Compendium of Academic Verbs

A few months ago, my friend and writing connoisseur Shayda had the idea to list verbs that scholars and students use when writing about other scholarship. Too often, we become stuck in ruts of “he states” and “she argues.” The world is full of vibrant verbs that are more interesting and more directive than the old standbys. To that end, Shayda gave me permission to take the idea and run with it. The result is this verb collection. TWEED’s Ever-Expanding Compendium of Academic Verbs refreshes your memory of handy verbs long forgotten and includes some choices with which you may not be acquainted. Currently, the compendium features almost 250 verbs. Visit the verbs page for a fuller introduction to the compendium, and be sure to download the full PDF. You can keep copies at your desk, in your briefcase, and on your hard drive for quick reference. Share it with colleagues, and be sure to add your own favorite academic verbs in the comments section. Thanks to Shayda for impetus to generate this list! Be sure to visit her blog, Vocabulary of the...

Dissertation-to-Book Guide No. 5: Inquiring Minds Want to Propose

It’s here: the fifth TWEED Dissertation-to-Book Guide, Inquiring Minds Want to Propose. In the previous guide, we discussed finding prospective publishers for book manuscripts. This installment goes through the next two phases of the dissertation-to-book process: initial inquiries directed to presses and then actual book proposals. In this rich guide, you’ll learn etiquette for entering into discussions with multiple publishers and why stressing your manuscript’s originality can damage your chances for publication. Download the PDF here. If you haven’t done so already, check out the first four guides in this series: A Dissertation is an Auspicious Beginning; Envisioning Your Dissertation as Something Else Entirely; Again, for the First Time: Revising Your Dissertation; and The Curious Beasts That Are Scholarly Presses & Acquisitions Editors. Find them in the TWEED resource library. Then sign up for TWEED’s email newsletter so that you stay on top of upcoming tools released for scholarly writers. TWEED can help you navigate the journey from dissertation to book. There’s more information on the page dedicated to crafting your...

TWEED Tweets on Twitter!

Finally! TWEED is establishing a presence on Twitter. Really, what could be more perfect than TWEED tweeting on Twitter? It was meant to be. So follow TWEEDediting on Twitter for a regular stream of tips related to academic writing styles, resources for scholarly writers, and plain old tweedy fun. Content will differ from what’s posted on Facebook and the blog. Don’t forget to sign up for Annotations, TWEED’s email periodical with new installments issuing forth shortly. And be sure to tell your friends applying for graduate, medical, and law school that TWEED edits application essays. Let them know by sending an electronic...