Episode #178

The Good Thing That A Lack Of Publications Is Telling You About Your Career

Today is an episode dedicated to appreciating the upside of things you may be harboring stress or disappointment over. Many academics have lots of partially done publications, and their record of published writing doesn’t accurately reflect their impact on academia. As a result, obstacles in writing and publishing can lead to negative self-talk around productivity and an unbearable pressure to work harder. 


Instead of allowing negative thoughts to hold back your career, I encourage you to focus on what you are good at.

Tune in to this episode and learn ways to highlight positive things about yourself as a professor and how to retain those positive feelings to help break through feelings of overwhelm and ultimately unclog your publication pipeline. Let’s dive into why your lack of publications is a good thing!


The Curse of Being a Great Professor

If you are behind on publications, that means you are someone everyone wants to work with. You are a colleague that other people want to co-author with. Students want to take your class and help with research. Being an in-demand person in academia also comes with a sense of obligation. Part of what makes you so attractive as a colleague or educator is your desire to help people. Unfortunately, when you are excellent at your job and deeply care for others, you get pulled in too many directions. So if you are behind on publications, it isn’t because you are lazy or subpar at writing. Too many people are asking for your time, and you are giving it without qualifying the value of those tasks against your career goals. 


Reevaluating Priorities

Many academics begin the Navigate program with a feeling of resentment. They said yes to too many things and are unsure how to back out of obligations that don’t align with their academic mission statement. However, it is so important to take the time to reevaluate your priorities so that you can manage your time to get the results you desire for your career. 

The first step in regaining control of your time is to discern which requests benefit your career goals and which ones benefit others. That starts with having a clearly defined academic mission statement, but you must also permit yourself to say no. Putting your career’s needs over others’ aspirations is not something to feel guilty about. 


“When you are doing great work in the world, when you are a thoughtful colleague, people are going to want to work with you. And obligation is telling you that you want to help people. You care about others and that attracts people to you, which is definitely a positive. But what happens when we combine excellence in your job with deep caring for others, is a feeling of being pulled in lots of different directions.”


“The good thing that a lack of publications is probably telling you is that you are a colleague in demand. It probably means that lots of people want to work with you, so they are asking for your time. They want to co-author with you and to be mentored by you and there is this feeling that you are really good at what you do and other people recognize that and they want a piece of it.”


 “You probably have a lot of negative messages in your head, maybe you have some negative self-talk around your productivity or around your ability to focus or your ability to just sit down and get it done. Let’s throw all of that out the window and talk about what is the good thing about your career or the good things about your career that that clogged up pipeline is really telling you.”


Our next cohort of Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap®. enrolls soon! Check out the program details and start your application process here.



  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Apply here!
  2. Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! 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 womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
  3. Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.



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