Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
Counteracting Obstacles to Scholarly Writing
From Aspiring Author to Published Scholar
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing
There are many fears associated with writing for publication. “The fear that grips someone who wants to write is usually not undifferentiated and monolithic but a composite of smaller fears. With time and thought, some can be resolved; others can be shooed back under their rocks or even coaxed into harness and put to work” (Rhodes, 1995, p. 8). The more that these writing tasks are high-risk and connected to the attainment of an important professional goal, such as doctoral program completion or tenure and promotion, the more unnerving they can become.
Fear, risk, and worry are associated with writing in the minds of many an academic author (Thesen & Cooper, 2014). During writing for publication professional development workshops for academic authors, the deterrents to writing for publication they identify tend to echo that fear/risk/worry theme. They harbor worries that the work will be rejected, misgivings about the time invested, concerns that they had nothing of importance to say, uncertainty about how to write for publication, or lack of confidence in writing skills. Perhaps most paralyzing of all is the nagging doubt that all of the effort will come to nothing if the work is rejected. Risk creeps in as writers realize that the stakes have been raised, for now it is more than “just writing”, it is the quality of their thinking that is being judged. Finally, there is the worry that, after their attempt at writing is shared with peers, they will look foolish and others will talk about them (Richards, 2007). Such worries may be intensified when scholars have a disability.
Worries about writing often are exacerbated when the author has a disability. Read the advice of Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, “Writing for Publication: An Essential Skill for Graduate Students with Disabilities” http://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/writing.aspx
The first step is acknowledging that everyone—from the first day of a graduate program to the conferral of emeritus status—grapples with self-doubt when it comes to writing. Studies have found that, particularly for doctoral students, the more important the writing task is, the greater their apprehension, anxiety, and tendency to procrastinate (Nielsen & Rocco, 2002). Even when graduate students have confidently produced class papers for many years, for example, the assignment of writing a paper in the style of a journal article can derail them. Even authors who have been highly successful and widely worry that their latest writing attempts will disappoint.
Those who are published have developed effective coping mechanisms that propel their professional growth rather than being paralyzed by fear. Even as we wrote this book, we found ourselves sending encouraging e-mails, based on the coping strategies we had learned over the years, such as “write the part you are most excited about first” or “let’s exchange chapters and edit for one another.” As Christensen (2000) notes, both with writing and with teaching, “there are victories to celebrate and inevitable gaps to mourn… as in life, a luta continua: the struggle continues” (p. x). Strategies that will address the most common misgivings about writing for publication follow.