Write, dammit!

I’ve had “write, dammit!” on my office whiteboard, under the list of things to do soon, for at least a couple of months. It was right below completing my pre-tenure review binder, which I turned in last week… And which was a reminder of why I need to write!

I am my own greatest obstacle in writing. I do things that seem like great ideas… And then I sit down to think about how to write it up… And then I convince myself I’m being silly, this is nothing new or exciting, is this really worthy of publication? I tell myself that I’m not that weird, that this is an aspect of imposter syndrome, but it really does make writing a struggle.

Last week I mentioned needing to work on a book chapter. I got a draft of that done and shared with my co-authors, and am now waiting for their feedback and contributions. That one is about a mapping exercise we’ve used in a few different settings, tying it to the development of visual literacy skills. I had set a deadline to get a draft to my co-authors, and got a draft to them by, oh, 11pm or so on the date I told them. Having a deadline and someone I’m accountable to makes such a difference for me in being able to actually write anything.

Next on my plate is to write up a research project I did last fall. I presented on it at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy last February, but have made little progress in actually writing it up to submit for publication. I could write a whole blog post on that alone, though. Long story short, I taught two sections of the same course, in which I designed one recurring assignment to be done differently in different sections but kept everything else the same. The goal was to test the impact of that one assignment on student learning. Unfortunately, my results were inconclusive. This may have been partially due to qualitative differences between the classes – does a higher average gpa indicate that those students on average are more effective at learning new material, regardless of the pedagogical methods used? But it was also due to flaws in the assessment tool I used. So, for tenure & promotion purposes, I should write it up and submit it, even if inconclusive results rarely actually get published… But it’s really hard to make myself write something that probably won’t get published because the results are inconclusive!

Another thing I should write up is a case study of a series of events I’ve organized at the library. I’ve written here before about the Empty Bowls workshops I organize at the library. That post was from the first iteration. I’ve switched to scheduling the events in fall to work better with the Empty Bowls organizers’ schedule, and have done it each academic year since. I love these events because they let me do more to contribute to the fundraiser than I could by just making a bowl myself or volunteering at the annual event. And I can sell it as a library event because it is a service learning opportunity when we discuss the purpose and outcomes of the fundraiser with them while they have fun playing with clay or painting on the glaze. But when I sit down to write, I wind up blocking myself – it’s just another library event, whoop-dee-doo, as if nobody else has ever done this before…

And, speaking of library events, I’ve also been encouraged to write up something or at least do a presentation on the annual Celebration of Faculty Publications that I’ve organized at my library. It’s a big project that takes a lot of time, since my university does not currently have a central place that tracks faculty publications. But is it really worthy of publication? I suppose I could go for the angle of presenting it as a “lessons learned” type of article/presentation, discussing what worked and what didn’t in terms of getting buy-in.

So, focusing on this blog as a place to reflect and organize my thoughts, I guess the point of this post is to organize my writing projects and try to get my butt in motion. But, if anyone is reading this, please add any words of encouragement or thoughts on which ideas sound like something you’d want to read!