In high school things like fashionable clothes, knowing the latest hit from a popular band, and being good at sports were the keys to popularity. Getting good grades might have endeared you to teachers and parents but it wasn’t really the currency of peer approval.
The world you are in now is like an upside down version of that world.
The social currency of academia is your writing.
Writing, and publishing that writing, is what garners the respect of your peers.
It is through your writing that most of your peers come to know you. They work in other institutions far from where you live. You communicate through writing.
It is on the basis of your writing that others will recommend that students apply to do graduate work in your department. It is on the basis of your writing that graduate students will decide to apply.
It is on the basis of your writing that peers will invite you to speak at their institution, or at conferences that they organize.
That social currency translates into economic benefits
Your published writing carries significant weight in decisions about your employment (hiring), job security (tenure/confirmation), and promotion.
Grant and fellowship adjudication committees will also use your past writing and publishing in their decision making processes.
Not writing is socially isolating
You can claim writing shouldn’t matter. Maybe fashion, pop music, and sports shouldn’t matter to the social world of high school either. But it does.
Writing may not matter to other social worlds but it does very much matter in the social world of academia. And you do care.
You can write.
You have written before. You have things to write about.
You also have resistance. Gremlins. Everyone does.
If you are having trouble writing as much as you’d like, maybe support would help.
A Meeting With Your Writing gives you a reason to turn up (you paid; other people expect you), a process for deciding what to write that day, support if you get stuck (I’m at the end of the phone), and recognition of what you’ve accomplished.
It’s not too late to join the autumn session. It’s only $95 (CDN) for the whole term.
If you aren’t teaching at 10 a.m. Eastern on Mondays, why don’t you join us?
Originally published September 6, 2012. It has been edited.