Have you been working on scholarship?
If you’re anything like me that simple sentence just made you cringe. By now you’re probably thinking about that promise you made to yourself; that this summer was going to be different and you were definitely going to start writing that article you’ve been putting off since last summer.
I understand! This is the part of our jobs that is easiest to push to the back burner. Yes, scholarship is important, but sometimes it isn’t as important as making sure your circulation desk is staffed and your patrons are served.
When I start to feel myself falling into this scholarship wormhole I try to follow a few simple steps to get me out of it.
1. Set short deadlines and keep yourself accountable
I have monthly deadlines and check-ins with myself to ensure that I’m making some progress on my next article. I schedule these on my calendar and actually make sure to analyze what I’ve completed and what I still have left to do. For example, one month all I may have done is put a couple articles into a folder. Other months I’ll have begun drafting. I try to let the article flow naturally, but having these monthly soft deadlines keeps me motivated and moving on a project.
2. Don’t think of it as work
More than anything while writing I try to remind myself that what I’m doing isn’t really work. Yes, for some of us, this is a part of our job descriptions, but remember what brought you to librarianship. Think about what the profession could become. Write about that! Write about what makes you passionate. When you feel strongly about an issue it becomes much easier to talk about and the drafting process turns into something fun and rewarding, rather than being something you must slog through.
3. Surround yourself with motivated peers
I have neglected this aspect of scholarship the most. This year I have the pleasure of serving on both the ALL-SIS and the RIPS-SIS Scholarship committees. I’m happy to say that these two wonderful committees are planning more ways to link up scholars and to motivate you to complete scholarship projects. Keep your eyes peeled for e-mails from these two groups and for scholarship-related programming at the AALL annual meeting. Also, have you joined Beer & Edits yet? They are a group dedicated to linking up scholars and promoting scholarship within AALL.
4. Start writing
Sometimes this is the only advice there is. You can keep folders of articles to read, research meticulously, and feel well-prepared to write, but never actually write anything. Sometimes we as librarians need to put away our research hats and just start writing! Force yourself to start organizing outlines. I think you’ll be surprised by how quickly your article comes together.
Hopefully, the next time you hear: have you been working on your scholarship? You’ll no longer feel dread, because your answer will be yes!