In my estimation, the summer break from teaching is one of the joys of the academic life. I love teaching, but it isn’t easy for me to stay on top of my writing, reading, and research during term-time when I have to also teach 3 classes and be available to the students.
Even though it is work, I’ve managed it. My first year at Pace, I was in a faculty writing seminar that was quite helpful in helping me figure out how to stay productive. In fact, the last two years have been my most productive. This summer is no exception. I am just finishing a contribution that is due Wednesday. For August deadlines, I have one another article promised out, a grant proposal that needs to be written and submitted, an article to review, an essay to write, an IRB application to complete, a pile of literature to read and summarize, and administrative work to do in advance of a large research project set to begin in September.
And this is the way I like it: the joyful demands of the academic life. I’ve been working hard to stay active in research and there are a few techniques that help me to do so:
1. If not now, when? It is too easy not to write because conditions are not perfect. Just get on with it.
2. It’s already written. Keep sending it out. I was at dinner with a sociologist friend who has a good job in a good department and is well respected in the discipline. I was telling him about an article that had been rejected a couple of times and that I was thinking I would just give up on it. He looked at me like I was crazy, “Why would you do that?” he asked. “You’ve already written it. Just keep sending it until someone takes it.” He then proceeded to share all of his rejection stories and some other particularly colorful stories about “famous” sociologists sending the same article to the same journal multiple times.
3. Be committed. I am deadline oriented and I assume I’m not alone. So, to keep myself working and to insure that my scholarly work doesn’t always take a back seat to more immediate teaching, administrative, and service demands, I try to get deadlines attached to my research and writing. Deadlines really are easy to come by: submitting articles to a call for a special issue of a journal instead of just submitting to the journal; grant application deadlines which, if met and successful, will result in funding and reporting deadlines; requesting a deadline on an R&R or invited submission; and, of course, participating in a hardcore, no excuses writing group or partnership.
4. Juggle. In the later years of graduate school, my work life was consumed by the dissertation. In my first years out of graduate school, my work life was consumed by the book based on the dissertation research. In the last few years, however, I’ve developed multiple projects that are in different stages – from articles that are already submitted to fledgling ideas that are being turned into grant proposals. I also have different roles. Sometimes I am working alone. Sometimes I am supervising research staff. Sometimes I am a co-author or co-PI, or an editor. The opportunity to be engaged in multiple lines of inquiry, to vary my tasks, and to partner with different collaborators energizes me and keeps it interesting.