Finishing the article that’s almost done

by | Jul 5, 2018 | academic writing, mindset, publishing, time management, writer's retreat

At some point or another we’ve all had one. That draft that is almost done, but not quite ready to submit for publication. Maybe it’s a dissertation chapter, a conference paper, or an excellent seminar paper. It’s really written already, but it needs an extra push to actually get it out the door.

In this article I want to talk about that almost-done article, what’s holding you back, and some creative ways to give yourself that push to submit.


Let’s start with the mindset side. First, some tough love. Almost done is not done. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty–quite the opposite, actually. I feel very strongly that more voices (especially voices of women and nonbinary academics and academics of color) need to be heard in academia. So I’m saying this to light that proverbial fire.

While your academic article is sitting there almost done, it is not working for you. It is not working for the people who your research serves. It is not working for your field.

As academics, there are many ways in which we can make an impact, but everyone knows that publication is right up there at the top of the list. After all, it is the currency of academia. A publication not only disseminates your work, but it helps move the needle on your career. Publications mean more job security, which means you are more relaxed and better able to make a positive contribution to your family and your field.

Your mindset around publication needs to come from a place of (1) helping you to be centered, focused, and less stressed in your career by meeting tenure requirements (or if you are pre-job, by meeting job qualifications), (2) serving the people who your research will help, and (3) moving your field forward in a positive way.

If you are thinking, “my research does not serve anybody and neither does it move the field forward,” then you have some mindset work to do. That’s great because now you know what’s holding you back.

Time Management

Everyone is busy. Especially you. How do we find time to do things that are important to us?

The simple answer is that we prioritize them over other things. You’ll need to sharpen your skills at saying no. You’ll need to outsource things that other people can do for you (child care? cleaning? grading?) and then let go of those things and let the other person do it their way. And be very economically savvy about this: if you invest a little bit of money to free up a few hours of your time that lead to you submitting more publications, what is the payoff for you? Is it promotion? Is it a job? Is it tenure? That small investment now pays off big later.

You can also “make time” by using the time you do have more efficiently. For example, if you hit your most productive writing times to work on your publications then the writing process will take less time overall. (Learn more about how to do that here.)

High-Impact Choices

At the end of the day, you want to get to the point where you are acting every day towards your goals, not reacting to things that get thrown at you. This involves a lot of self-discipline and daring. Daring to say no to things that eat up your time and don’t advance your career. Daring to put some obligations aside in order to make high-impact choices.

Spending time on writing for publication is a high-impact choice. The pay off for several hours invested in writing your academic article is bigger than the payoff for several hours invested in committee work, or for taking your lesson plan from very good to great. If you want to publish more, sometimes you have to accept very good as good enough in other areas of your work and life. Like maybe your house isn’t clean to the level that you would like. Maybe you’ve wanted to update your lecture slides. The lecture will be good enough (because you are doing it and you are awesome!). The house is clean enough. Choose to spend time taking that almost done publication to submitted, because that will have a much higher positive impact on your career than other activities you could be doing.

What to Do to Finish the Article

So if you’re still with me to this point, then you probably are convinced that it’s time to take that almost done potential article and actually revise and submit it. But maybe you’ve been telling yourself that for a while and it still hasn’t happened. You can do this. You are almost there! Now it’s time to get all the way to hitting that submit button.


Here’s how we can help:

  • Join our email newsletter, In The Pipeline, where we’ll share academic writing and publishing tips every Monday morning.
  • Check out the Navigate program details and get on the waitlist here! Our 12-week program helps tenure-track women and nonbinary professors with a disruptive perspective on their field to publish backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible.
  • Get my book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing. Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one woman and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
  • Listen to my podcast, Academic Writing Amplified, created for women and nonbinary professors who want to write and publish more while rejecting the culture of overwork in academia. 


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