A great comment from a university press editor on publishing

A great comment to Productive in Publishing (guest post by Jason Brennan) at the Daily Nous.

Matt McAdam ·November 10, 2016 at 1:39 pm

I think this is all very good advice, and I also think those who find it off-putting or impossible to put into practice should really ask themselves whether academia is for them. As a university press editor, I work with lots of authors, and it’s clear to me that the most successful ones do some version of what Brennan describes. Perhaps more importantly, the _happiest_ authors I know follow some version of Brennan’s plan. In particular, productive and happy academics, in my experience, write everyday, vigorously guard and prioritize their writing time, write shitty first drafts that they edit later, and read the secondary literature only after they’ve written something. Sure, there are other ways of making it as an academic, perhaps most commonly being just productive enough by squeaking out work under intense pressure, but these often involve near constant anxiety. This is why I say that Brennan’s suggestions here are a good prompt for the question of whether one really wants to go into academia.

See also my posts – You can’t polish a turd, but you can edit one – the importance of early drafting and My sabbatical rules for writing which make similar points.

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3 Responses to A great comment from a university press editor on publishing

  1. samkinsley says:

    I find this and your previous post highlighting the piece by Brennan rather sad. The thrust of the discussion, it seems to me, presupposes a level of privilege that is not extended to many academics, a level of choosing your workload that many can only dream of. Yes, many people work under near-constant anxiety *because they have no choice*. To then say those people should consider their positions is to add insult to injury. Where’s the solidarity in that? Perhaps (I hope) I’ve misinterpreted.

    • stuartelden says:

      I fully accept that I am now in a very privileged position. But I haven’t always been – the first few years of my career were in short-term Contracts with high teaching loads. My third authored book was in production before I had my first term of research leave. I actually think this kind of advice is most useful for people who are at their busiest, and much is similar advice to what I give PhD students or early career researchers. I have always tried to recognise the diversity of situations people are in when offering or linking to advice. I do think the suggestion to consider other careers is unfortunate, and I probably should have said so when I linked to it.

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