Introducing Publish Not Perish
The newsletter about flourishing instead
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
Introducing Publish Not Perish
Publish or perish. We’ve all heard it and many of us have felt it in our scholarly bones. We begin hearing the mantra in graduate school when some admired faculty member tells us publishing is the key to the academic job market. Many of us internalize it then and use it as the barometer for all career success. When we finish a PhD and get an academic job, we then hear that publishing is the key to getting the better job. If we land the better job, publishing then becomes a main, or perhaps the main, requirement for keeping it. Publish or perish is a persistent hum in our ears and for some of us, that hum is loud.
This newsletter is not about perishing but flourishing instead. There are many ways to achieve this feat and to work towards being the balanced human being we’d all prefer to be. Before I tell you more about the newsletter, let me tell you how I got here.
Rekindling A Healthy Relationship with Writing
The fear of perishing can change our relationship to writing and become paralyzing for some of us. This was the case for me. Before graduate school, I enjoyed writing and the idea world. Once the pressure to publish and the red pen found me, my relationship to the craft shifted. I found myself avoiding writing even though I believed that my academic career would perish if I didn’t. These new feelings about writing were strange for me because I was an avid writer at a young age. Something that had become my childhood refuge no longer felt safe in graduate school.
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash
I decided to do the hard work of uncovering where and why the shift from writing as solace to peril had occurred. That took some bravery and willingness to examine uncomfortable feelings. Some familiar culprits surfaced: imposter syndrome, fear of failure, perfectionism, a culture of critique, time mismanagement, etc. I began devouring advice and strategies to overcome my challenges. For a couple years, I spent as much time learning about writing strategies and habits as I did actually writing.
By the time I was in my last year of the PhD, I began enjoying writing again. My rekindled relationship with writing led to a surprising career goal for a person who primarily went to graduate school to get a job at a teaching institution: I now wanted an R1 job so I could spend more time writing and training graduate students some of the things I learned about writing and research along the way.
Not Letting My Schedule Make Me
Upon entering the academic workforce, we often face another major challenge to avoiding perishing: time. There simply isn’t enough of it. We have demanding workloads of teaching and service. We have families and friends who we want to spend our time with. Our weeks of teaching and service are all scheduled for us, but we are left to our own devices in determining when we will find the time to write. This means we leave writing for when everything else is done…and then we find that we are, in fact, done.
For many of us, writing happens during holiday and summer “breaks.” This means that the times when we are supposed to reset and rejuvenate become the times when we place the pressure on ourselves to do the most important work for advancement. If we are a graduate student or a precarious academic worker, the work we believe to be the most important to elevating our lives and livelihood is not the work we are actually paid to do. On top of this, we desperately need rest and reprieve from the precarious hustle.
Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
As I transitioned to full-time employment and then a tenure track job at an R1, I decided to learn how to leverage time to my advantage and make a schedule rather than letting a schedule make me. As a general practice, I don’t want to work at night and I don’t want to work on the weekends, so I don’t. I don’t want to let teaching take up 80% of my work time, so I don’t let it. I make writing a priority and I make my time off from work a priority as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying finding more time is simple nor am I saying that devoting one’s time to teaching isn’t a noble pursuit. Rather, I am saying that I determined what I wanted my career to look like and I decided to learn strategies, tips, and techniques to help me achieve this in similar ways that I learned to love writing again: through research and reflection.
Who is this Newsletter For?
If you feel like your career doesn’t look like you want it to in terms of how you write or how much time you spend writing, then this newsletter is for you.
If you feel like you have lost, or never really gained, an ability to write without fear, then this newsletter is for you.
If you work with others who experience any of these challenges, then this newsletter is for you.
Publish Not Perish is my effort to share what I have learned along the way, to develop community with fellow travelers, and to explore best practices in writing as academics with multiple demands on our time.
All of this requires labor. So, I humbly request a small financial commitment from you that affirms that this work is worth doing. So what do you say? Will you join me?
Free Membership. You will receive a weekly public post delivered to your inbox. Some of these will be paywalled two weeks after they are published; however, the posts that resonate the most with folks will remain open because access is important to me.
Paid Membership. If you find the information in my newsletter helpful for you, the people you work with, or the people you mentor, please consider supporting my work by becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $6 per month or $60 a year. Users with paid subscriptions have full access to all previously published public posts, additional posts, and the Publish Not Perish community chat on the Substack app.
Founding Membership. If you are an academic who has access to institutional funding for professional development, please consider becoming a founding member, as many institutions would reimburse you for this subscription. You may decide how much you would like to pledge above the $60 yearly subscription rate, with a recommended pledge of $200. Founding members will also receive three free gift subscriptions to give away.
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