Episode #119

The Danger of the Twin Scarcities [book excerpt]

Have you ever struggled to reconcile the realities of needing both time and money, and never feeling like you have enough of it? The Twin Scarcities refer to the scarcities of time and money. As academics, the idea of these things being scarce has been ingrained in us from the start of our careers and continues to stay with us as we navigate both our working and personal worlds.


In episode 119 of the podcast, listen as I read an excerpt from chapter 2 of my new book coming out,  Making Time to Write. The chapter’s title is “The Danger of the Twin Scarcities” and I dive into the nuances of the aspects of time and money and how they play a large role in how and why we work and write the way we do. I hope you’ll gain some insight into your own writing life and will take the time to dissect your own relationship with these twin scarcities as it relates to how you make time to write.

An Excerpt Reading of Chapter 2, “The Danger of the Twin Scarcities”

Academic culture thrives on the twin scarcities: lack of time and lack of money. From the moment we enter our doctoral programs, we are conditioned for scarcity by being paid a low stipend and expected to work 24/7. We are ingrained with the belief that there is not enough time or money in academia.

When I met my husband, Guillermo, at Michigan State in the early 2000s, I was teaching in the Intensive English Program and he was a new doctoral student in animal science. I was making $24,000 a year working full-time teaching with my master’s degree. 

After I decided to leave that position to pursue my Ph.D. in critical studies in the teaching of English. I was lucky to receive a teaching assistantship. I questioned the term lucky because the idea that assistantships are highly competitive is the beginning of the scarcity narrative in academia. That narrative is so strong and so ingrained that I felt lucky to be able to leave my $24,000 a year job to be paid $12,000 a year and have my tuition covered. 

And so began a narrative in my own head about how there is never enough money, and I would always be in the hole. 

Once you’re out of graduate school and into more steady work, the twin scarcities don’t magically go away. Student loan debt made it difficult for my husband and me to establish a household and buy a car, all while we considered ourselves so lucky to have landed tenure track jobs at the same university.

When you operate from a place of scarcity, you make choices based on fear. Fear is a powerful motivator, but choices based in fear often have the opposite effect of what you intend. 

The purpose of this chapter is to help you recognize and then unlearn scarcity mindset so that you can stop making choices based on fear and step into choices based on abundance.

As we learn more about scarcity mindset and the role it has been playing in your writing practice, our goal is to shift from scarcity to abundance. 

Understanding how you learned a scarcity mindset for time and money is the first step in changing that mindset to one of abundance. 

The ingrained scarcity of money keeps us from stepping fully into what we are creating as scholars pre-tenure because we fear losing our precious and scarce tenure track position. 

Now, let me be clear, I am not saying that an abundance mindset will magically line your pockets with money or change your institution’s fast capitalist policies. You cannot think your way to a million dollars. What I am saying is that to change how we interact with the culture of academia, we need to change how we think.

The job market is a place where actual scarcity triggers scarcity mindset. The job market for PhDs in humanities is notoriously flooded. 

We [academics] are bound to the work. And the work for many of us can happen at any time of day or night. Because we technically can work at any time, day or night, we are particularly vulnerable to the effects of late-stage capitalism on the university.

Most of the clients I work with could be publishing more if their writing and publication pipelines were less packed to the gills with projects that they just took on to get a publication.

Because writing is the currency of academia, the twin scarcities combine to incite fear around writing.

Twin scarcities form the perfect storm for creating a funnel with tons of writing projects shoved into the top, instead of a pipeline, with curated publications flowing out at a steady pace.


If you want to know how to leave your scarcity mindset behind and step into abundance, you’re just going to have to get the book! Order the book here!

Quotes to Note:

“The twin scarcities of time and money are inextricably linked.” [7:00]

“When you operate based on scarcity, you make choices out of fear.” [8:40]

“We must acknowledge how scarcity mindset has served us personally before we can release it.” [11:00]

“To make time to write you’ll have to shift to an abundance mindset.” [11:40]

“By unlearning scarcity mindset, you can stop making decisions based on fear and start creating abundance in your writing.” [22:15]

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