Free Webinar: Authors Among Us: A Conversation with Christina Zamon, Rachael Woody, and Margot Note

The Independent Archivist’s Section is hosting an informal webinar: “Authors Among Us: A Conversation with Christina Zamon, Rachael Woody, and Margot Note.”  Please join us for a conversation between three of our colleagues about how they drew on their experience as archivists to become authors! More info to come…do join us if you can!

Please sign-up so that we can get a sense of possible attendance.

Authors Among Us: A Conversation with Christina Zamon, Rachael Woody, and Margot Note

March 26th, 1 PM CST

To join:

https://zoom.us/j/759287400

You can join this meeting from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.

US: +1 929 436 2866, +1 669 900 6833

Meeting ID: 759-287-400

 

Book Recommendation: How to Write a Lot

Paul Silvia, How to Write a Lot, Second Edition (American Psychological Association, Washington DC: 2019)

For anyone looking for a short, easy-to-read book with basic tips about writing, this is a good one. Silvia’s writing is friendly and practical at the same time. The book is a broad overview of all aspects of writing, from starting a project through submitting an article or finding a book publisher.

As a psychologist, he spends time dispelling the myths that haunt many writers. In particular, I was intrigued by his dissection of “writer’s block.” He proposes that it doesn’t exist; that it’s a fallacy to explain why writing doesn’t happen. Basically, the only way through it is to write.

Much of his advice is similar to other books about writing, but he writes it without adding fluff or extensive explanations. He integrates examples and distills his advice in ways that make you think “of course I can do that!”

Unique to his book is a chapter about writing grants. Because he comes from academia, this focuses more on getting grants to bring in funding research projects. However, archivists can glean some good advice by thinking of grants as writing projects. Grants are ways to practice writing good context, being concise, and refining language.

This is a great book for new and early writers. It breaks down the writing process in a way that archivists likely did not learn in graduate school. Its simple and practical approach will coach writers through the obstacles and make the process achievable.

Book Recommendation: The Chronicle Productivity Guide to Writing & Publishing

One of my goals for this blog going forward is to offer more resources about writing and research. I’ve posted a few here and there, but plan to be more consistent in offering suggestions.

I periodically read blogs and articles about books about writing. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the seemingly unending resources out there. I’ve started reading books about writing both to see if I can get tips for my own writing, but to also discern what are actually good resources and ones that are less helpful.

One that I like a lot is The Chronicle Productivity Guide to Writing & Publishing by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Though geared towards academics, anyone can find it helpful. What I like about it is that it is short essays from a variety of people. Though there is a cohesiveness, one need not read it in order nor cover to cover to find useful assistance.

This 84-page book distills the most common questions about and challenges to writing that probably everyone can relate to. It is divided into 5 sections:

  1. Finding Time and Managing Your Project List
  2. Conquering Isolation: The Writing Group
  3. Overcoming Inner Obstacles
  4. Ways to Improve Your Writing
  5. Navigating the Publishing Process

Within each section is realistic, practical advice. For archivists, I think sections 1, 3, and 4 are the most relevant. Two interesting essays in the first section jumped out at me. One discussed doing a reverse day planner, where you document everything you do to see how you spend your time. While I like this idea greatly, I haven’t yet done it. But it can help see how to carve out time to write.

The second one was about energy levels. The author breaks energy up into A, B, and C, and assigns writing to A. It is also about finding the time when your energy is at a peak, to designate that as your writing time. Some people are good early in the morning, others late at night. But identifying that can help be more productive.

The third section about inner obstacles has essays that every writer can relate to. Avoidance, doubts, organization, and many other aspects are the obstacles described. Then, there are some practical and unique ideas on how to move past those obstacles.

The fourth section about writing is also very helpful. I’m amused that one essay is called “7 Tips to Write Less Badly,” which is a good indication of how helpful the tips are. Some of the tips in these essays advise to think less about the amount of time spent on writing and more on the quantity of output, various ways to formulate and organize a strong argument, and how to find your voice.

This is not a cheap book, but is truly one of the best ones I’ve looked at if you are looking for some quick and insightful guidance on improving your writing and writing habits.

New SAA Professional Writers Virtual Group

Greetings fellow archivists,

We are proud to announce a whole new way for Archivists to meet ad a whole new group to turn to for support…

Welcome to the Professional Writers Virtual Group!

This is an online-only group dedicated to the act of professional writing. It is a group that is under the auspices of the Society of American Archivists – and open to SAA members as well as non-SAA affiliated people.

Our goal to create a space where people can come together to support each other through the professional writing process. In the coming weeks we will be uploading basic resources to the document library, highlighting lesser-known opportunities to publish, and activities to help you go from idea to published piece.

To join to the virtual group just go to your Connect homepage and scroll down the Professional Writers Virtual Group and click join. Once you’ve joined you can send a message to the list at this address: ARCHIVISTS-professionalwritingvirtualgroup@ConnectedCommunity.org

The Connect page also has a Shared Files folder that includes the group’s mission statement, some resources, and a list of places to publish.

The most important part of this group will be the listserv. This is our mechanism to communicate – and we envision the conversations to be frequent and fruitful. Like all SAA lists, the PWVG is a safe space where you can ask any questions you have about professional writing and get the help you need.

The group is open to people who have published, who haven’t published but are interested, people who have ideas but need writing partners, those on the tenure track who need a mentor, or anyone who is interested in Professional Writing.

Stay tuned for more information, and happy writing!

Michelle, Rebecca, Alison, and Josh

Michelle Ganz
Archives Director
McDonough Innovation
michelle.ganz42@gmail.com

Alison Stankrauff
University Archivist
Wayne State University
alison.stankrauff@wayne.edu

Rebecca Hankins
Associate Professor
Africana and Women’s & Gender Studies Archivist/Librarian/Curator
Texas A&M University
rhankins@tamu.edu

Joshua Kitchens
Director, Master of Archival Studies Program
Clayton State University
JoshuaKitchens@clayton.edu

Writing for Public Audiences: A 2-week online workshop beginning October 15, 2018

This is different from what I usually post, but because archives get attention in the news, this might be an interesting opportunity.

______________________________________

How to Pitch and Submit is a 2-week, blog-based course aimed at helping academics and graduate students reach wider audiences with their work. The course, created by former English professor and Belt Press publisher Anne Trubek, focuses on developing story ideas, pitching and submitting articles, op-eds, and essays. Students in the course have published  in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, LitHub, Washington Post, McSweeneys, Atlas Obscura, Smithsonian, The Wall Street Journal, ScientificAmerican.com, Guernica, Mental Floss, Tablet, The Awl, and many other outlets. In October, the course, taught by historians Daniela Blei and Andrea Volpe, will include Q & As with editors from The AtlanticSmithsonian.com, and Mosaic Science, along with Q and As with academics who are now writing fulltime for public audiences. Course runs October 15-29. Cost is $300.

Contact Info:
Andrea Volpe
Contact Email: andrealvolpe@gmail.com
URL: https://thinkingwriter.org/how-to-pitch-submit/

Books About Writing: Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing

Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing, Robert Boice, 1990

Though this book is nearly 30 years old, much of the content is very relevant to anyone needing guidance about the writing process. Boice describes the components of how to start and continue writing.

The book is truly a self-help guide in that there are questions to help one assess personal challenges to writing, and exercises to establish productive strategies. He describes various types, such as spontaneous and generative writing. He also delves into why writers struggle: anxiety, lack of confidence, procrastination, inability to start or finish, and other psychological issues.

Boice’s manual is prescriptive, as it promotes a specific agenda to become a productive writer. Many authors, especially new or those who are required to write (e.g. for tenure) will find it helpful if they are continually challenged to make time for writing. Though mostly prescriptive, any writer can read it and glean tips that can be adapted to various writing processes.

Books About Writing: Air & Light & Time & Space

There are seemingly countless books about writing. When I was writing my dissertation, my adviser shared that when he was in grad school and starting his dissertation, he participated in writing workshops and read much about writing. He also said that one can use these resources to help with writing, but it is also possible that spending too much time on them can hinder the process. Meaning, too much effort to learn about writing does not replace writing itself.

However, many of us need something to jump start writing, overcome writer’s block, or to gain some helpful tips to continue. I’ve been looking through books about writing, not just for myself but to have ideas to recommend to others who are interested. I’m not reading them in their entirety, but skimming them to see if they are helpful for those writing in our profession.

I’m going to start posting some brief reviews about books that I hope you will find helpful.

Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write by Helen Sword
I came across this book when reading a blog that recommends books about academic writing (sorry, can’t remember where). It is an easy read, and I read the first few chapters fairly quickly.

This isn’t a book to keep on hand all the time, but instead one to look at as you start writing, whether a new or seasoned writer. Sword introduces a framework that any writer can customize to his or her own style. She specifically states this book provides no “ready-made blueprint,” but a flexible approach to planning and understanding one’s individual process. She describes the framework as four habits: behavioral, artisanal, social, and emotional. All writers have these, it’s a matter of discovering them within themselves.

Much of Sword’s book is a compilation of writers’ descriptions of their practices based on interviews she conducted. These vignettes offer ideas as well as comfort; many writers share their struggles and how they overcome them (or try to).

Because I struggle with writing (as most of us do), I appreciate the concepts to help me identify how I can think about writing through assessing my habits and how to make them work for me. I especially like that it is not a strict prescription for writing, that it has something different for everyone.