Episode #16

New Year’s Resolutions for Academic Writers

While January 1st can be seen as an arbitrary date, New Year’s feels like a clean slate. And because I believe that successful writing is all about how it feels, I would love for you to create some resolutions to help you start this year off on the right foot.


A resolution is different than a goal, and very different than a plan. It is something that we resolve to do (and that usually takes deep resolve to keep doing). I suggest choosing something that you want to become a habit for you. Something that will make your life better.

You may also want to choose an overarching theme for your year, a big desire you have that will be your focus for the year. Be sure that your theme informs your decisions about how to structure the rest of your time, and that you tackle resolutions incrementally.


To Make Your Resolution Stick, Make it Incremental

Don’t try to make a huge, radical change all at once and expect it to stick; that’s how resolutions fail. Instead, plan to implement your resolution in “incremental upgrades” (as my business coach Cailen Asher calls them). These are small adjustments, micro-changes– not sweeping changes–that get you closer to the life and career you want. You implement one and make sure it sticks before you implement another.

“Create a New Year’s resolution that can be completed in incremental upgrades.”

Here’s an example:

I resolve to put writing at the center of my career.

Incremental upgrades I can make to step towards this resolution:

  • Schedule one hour per week that is an absolutely non-negotiable date with my writing (then later upgrade by another hour, and another).
  • Create a 24-hour waiting period before taking on any new commitments. During that period, ask myself if the new commitment helps me keep writing at the center or pulls me away.
  • Schedule in a weekly reading time (reading is essential to writing!) and keep it as an appointment.
  • Choose two weeks early in the semester where I will do a writing sprint to push an almost-done project out the door.
  • Find a writing group that will keep me accountable and foment my writing practice.

Remember, you do one of these upgrades at a time–not everything at once! If you create a life-changing resolution–but one that can be implemented in small upgrades–you will be creating a resolution that sticks and that has a real effect on your year, and your life!


Choose a Theme for the Year

When planning for your year, consider choosing a theme. What is your main focus this year? Are you trying to write a book? Purge your pipeline of almost-done projects? Pursue an administrative role?

Choose one aspect of your career that you will focus on, and make that your theme. A theme helps you make decisions about what to take on and how to structure all the moving parts of your career.

Remember my analogy of the mixing board: you can’t have the volume of every track at 100. If some things are turned up, others must be turned down to make the best music (and life!). Choosing a theme will help you balance and avoid overwhelm while staying focused on what’s really important.

“What is the most important thing for you this year?”

Consider Career Development in 2020

If you want to put writing at the center, up-level as an academic professional, or get more support for the tenure process, consider one of these 3 ways to work with me in 2020:

  • The Academic Woman’s Writing Roadmap (opening in May).
    This program helps you get a firm hold on your writing practice and move your pipeline from clogged and unorganized to clear and smooth. We start in May to get you on track for summer writing. While you’re waiting for enrollment to open, be sure to grab my free PDF “10 Ways to Make Time to Write” here.


  • Amplify: Faculty Writing Accelerator. This program is for pre-tenure women on the tenure track who want to put writing at the center, learn ways to push back against the culture of overwork and go up for tenure with confidence. It is a year-long program that groups like-minded women in small, supportive cohorts. It has rolling admission, so click here to apply.


  • Elevate. This program is for post-tenure women who are looking to up-level their careers in any number of ways. Are you ready to go up for full? Maybe you want to land a big grant or open a research center. However you are looking to level up in your career, Elevate can help you achieve your goals. Elevate runs February-July and enrollment is open now. Click here to apply.


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