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Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  249 ratings  ·  42 reviews
With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book—or even steady journal articles—may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.

Jensen begins by busting the myth that universities are supportive
Paperback, 166 pages
Published April 28th 2017 by University of Chicago Press
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Julie Ehlers
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not an academic and I don't remember how I heard about this book, but as someone who's always trying to write but rarely seems to find the time and energy, I figured anyone who could help academics (who are clearly always stretched thin and crazy busy) could help me.

And I was right! This book is packed with helpful and exceedingly practical advice on how to secure the time, space, and energy for writing. I'm not going to give any of it away here (read the book, it's short), but if you follow
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for any writer, but especially academics who get stalled on projects. I am not going to do her sorting technique that she covers in the beginning of the book, but I really appreciated her points about trying to write only what excites you and letting go of the parts of the project that you feel like you have to write. Just abandon draft and move on.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're in academia, you may already be familiar with this book or other manuals that attempt to guide you as a writer. This one is especially helpful because it acknowledges all of the things that faculty must do outside of writing and gives you clear, concrete advice about how you can put aside time, space, and energy to do your scholarly writing. The book is very short (most chapters are four pages) and covers lots of different topics, from setting up your space or dealing with writers bloc ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent work!

Highly recommend if you need or want to better understand why we fail to write and how we can be productive and less afraid of ourselves and failure.
Neil R. Coulter
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, editing
Tremendously helpful, practical, realistic, encouraging, compassionate. I picked this up to see if I might want to use any parts of it for a doctoral research writing course I'm developing to teach next semester. Not only do I want to use parts of it, but I'm now planning to have my students read it cover to cover and engage with the content through activities and discussions.

Where was all the practical, helpful guidance when I was doing my PhD? I finished my degree and emerged into the world, b
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. The reason I didn't give it more is because I listened to the audio, and in hindsight I would have much preferred to take notes in the margins as I read due to the nature of the content. There are definitely some very helpful strategies detailed within and tips to building a support system for yourself, regardless of what type of writing you are working on.
Matt McCullough
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book for anyone who has to write (which is all of us). Especially for academics, a very clear concise declaration of hindrances and solid strategies on how to deal with them!!
Paul Silvia
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot. It's among the best books in the "productive academic writing" genre.
Xueyi Zhou
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read the Chinese translation. The translation is actually good, smooth and elegant.

I'm not in academic writing but this book magically helped me a lot. I think so far as for writing in general (creative or academic) the most helpful books I've read about writer's block is this book and On Writer's Block by Victoria Nelson, the latter being more creative-writing related.

Why do I find them the most useful? Probably the disillusionment. You can't expect to reach a specific magic point--getting publ
Ömer Ak
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A practical and motivating guide for academic writing, which includes original methods and approaches developed by the writer herself. It also presents a useful/orienting review of major studies in the field.
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clear, concise, accessible and full of actionable advice. I wish I read this 10 years ago (= the highest praise for a book on writing).
Matías Aranguiz
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for everyone at any stage in the academic career
Mike Zickar
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A helpful book for academics who want to up their writing game, at any point in their career. I appreciated the candid analysis of academia that pervades this text, not bashing academia (which us academics love to do) but providing a cogent critique of many of the barriers that we all face to being productive scholars.

Write on (in 15-minute intervals)!
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having wandered around academia for the last 5 years, I have experimented with writing, working and academic productivity techniques a lot. The main reason is that I had the gut feeling (equally close to wishful thinking) that the competitive environment we academics live in, should not lead to a life of stress, bad writing and a tilted work-life balance. From this perspective, 'Write No Matter What' felt like a small victory, a very personal 'see-I-told-you-so!' that strengthens my beliefs and ...more
Adrienne Bross
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While it is written for the academic writer, there is a LOT that can be used for fiction writing. Plus, I didn't feel like I was being sold anything. So many craft books will act like they have some sort of 7-step-process to write what you need to write, and they're trying to sell their methods, but this book presented a number of different ways that writing can be attainable regardless of the situation.

My only complaint, if I had any, is that the book fee
Crystal Harris
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has totally changed the way I feel about my writing. It am now very protective of my A time, and I consistently use a project box (or binder) system to put away those that ideas that are not "active" or are on the back burner. I keep my active project out on my desk with notes and all. I am also a big fan of writing groups. Consistent accountability causes me to choose my 15-30 min scheduled writing blocks rather than waste them on email communication. I found the myth sections also he ...more
Lugas Raka Adrianto
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Summarized in one word: neat.
The book immediately walks the talk by discussing ONLY the important aspects without flooding the pages with filler words. For me, that's the crux, which I like.

Talking about important substances: there appears to be a strong proposition towards time management, self-appreciation, and work-life balance. After all, people in academia are all human who needs rest and recharge.

Thanks also for letting us know that everyone "struggles", even senior faculty. It makes me mo
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is a lot of really good advice here for academics at different points in their careers. . I really liked the idea of a project box and ventilation file--I will be incorporating both of these ideas into my writing routine.
I do wish there was a chapter on writing while working through sources--as a historian, this is a topic that I have yet to see addressed in a book aimed at academics, but it is one of the most difficult aspects of the writing process for me. Of course, this is just a a mi
Lisa Ann Robertson
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: taught
As others have said, this book tends to be repetitive. Nonetheless, it's a thin, easy to read volume with lots of excellent advice and strategies to try for being a happy, productive academic writer. It's especially useful for grad students students, not least because it provides an accurate glimpse of life on the tenure track. Not all strategies will work for everyone, but they are solid and worth giving a go.
Jess Varghese
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'd recommend this book for every graduate student who is interested in writing/publishing. The author provides tangible steps to take to be successful (as well as addressing every excuse I've ever made!) with writing.

I typically don't re-read books, but I'd totally re-read this for the lessons it provided.

I felt like it was an mentor guiding me through academic writing. It helped me greatly!
Tara Brabazon
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A joyous book. A joyous read. Jensen shared the pain of writing, and the profound challenge of cutting writing time out of a full academic life.

Clear strategies are put in place to write, and write every day. It is also a book without excuses.

Outstanding. Funny. Powerful. Agile. Honest.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun, 2017
I really enjoyed this book, and consider it one of the better writing advice books I've read. Jensen gets right at the heart of why writing can be so difficult and provides realistic advice. Highly recommended!
Alex Linschoten
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
To write is to think. This book was recommended by a colleague and consists of eminently sensible / practical advice for ensuring that you get to write in a world where few people will give you the space and freedom to do so unencumbered.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Getting unstuck

This book was so helpful in getting me started with developing a reasonable writing routine that I can actually accomplish even on my busiest days. I really enjoyed the way the author tackled writing myths- I feel so understood!
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A practical and easy read that helped me envision how I can actually finish my dissertation. That being said the second half is repetitive and full of anecdotes that I didn’t find helpful. Still, for anyone who deals with “writers block” this is a good wake up call with some helpful advice.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book on writing, concise, lots of strong recommendations. Some of the suggestions are clearly geared to people with specific writing challenges that may not apply to all academic writers or (in some cases) people in unsupportive departments - but overall I found it quite helpful.
Elina Nilsson
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd-jobb
”Productive writing requires frequent, low-stress encounters with an enjoyable project. We can work together to counteract the academic norms that offer infrequent, high-stress encounters with projects that feel like noxious burdens.”
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Joli Jensen gives helpful and compassionate advice that can help academic writers in any stage of their careers. I would recommend this to absolutely everyone, and particularly to those that feel insecure about their writing projects and need some help to deal with that.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book - short, with actionable advice for academic writers. Jensen unpacks many of the academic writing "myths" we may be carrying around, and offers practical solutions.
Petr Hejna
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Joli Jensen received her PhD in 1985 from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois. She has been a faculty member at the University of Virginia (1984-1986) and at the University of Texas at Austin (1986-1991). She joined the Faculty of Communication at the University of Tulsa in 1991, where she became Hazel Rogers Professor of Communication in 2005. She also founded a ...more

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