Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
From Novice to Expert
Writing as Professional Development
The final chapter of the book will assist readers in assessing their progress and setting future goals for scholarly publication. It advises writers to take stock of the human and material resources that will assist them in meeting their publishing goals, such as: seeking out professional development opportunities, identifying suitable mentors, locating online resources, and participating in writing support groups. This chapter addresses the promise—and the pitfalls—of collaborative writing. Readers are provided with research-based advice that supports them in making good decisions about works that are co-authored, arriving at shared understandings of each author’s responsibilities, deciding how credit will be allocated, renegotiating agreements when situations change, and abandoning unproductive collaborations without losing investments of time and work. Finally, teacher/scholar/authors in Academia are encouraged to rethink the “publish or perish” mantra and replace it with a more growth-supporting concept; namely, publish and flourish.
A doctoral student in a class on writing for publication asked the professor, “Does your writing still get rejected?” “Sure it does!” she responds brightly, “but not very often.” Two weeks later she opens her e-mail to the worst reviews of her life on a book chapter. How could this happen? She had published a successful college textbook on the same topic and had written a chapter for the same series with success in the past. The author’s initial response was to conclude that the reviewers had been harsh for some inexplicable reason; however, while rereading the comments, it became apparent that the she had failed to meet the criteria implicit in each of the questions for reviewers. Mainly, the bad reviews occurred because the author had deluded herself into thinking that she could produce a fine chapter in record time. Now, as children say out on the playground, it would be a “do over” and take much more time than anticipated or allocated. As novelist Annie Dillard (1989) explains, growth as a writer is a balancing act. The writer must:
control his own energies so he can work. He must be sufficiently excited to rouse himself to the task at hand, and not so excited he cannot sit down to do it. He must have faith sufficient to impel and renew the work, yet not so much faith that he fancies he is writing well when he is not. (p. 46)
It is that last bit—thinking that you are writing well when you are not—that gets in the way of many an author. As with other responses to sources of stress, reactions to criticism frequently are “fight or flight.” In the “fight” reaction, authors cling to the contention that they need not change a word, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. They argue, in effect, that they are without peers because they are such intellectual giants and brilliant writers. Conversely, when authors choose the flight mode, they are so wounded by the criticism that they withdraw the manuscript, even if they have been encouraged to revise and resubmit. Yet neither fight nor flight is productive when it comes to scholarly writing. If you continue to write as you’ve always written and resist recommendations for improvement, you have cut off a major avenue for professional growth as an author.