Blogging and academic writing are often perceived as water and oil: They just don’t go together. At least that’s the perception I have encountered since I started pursuing my Ph.D. In Steven Soderbergh’s movie Contagion, one protagonist declares that blogging is like graffiti but with commas and periods. There is some truth to that, as many blogs are uninteresting and poorly written. And I am well aware that blogging does not always produce the highest quality of source material, as you might find in an article published in a peer-reviewed journal. But blogging has allowed me to face my ghosts, build up a network of contacts, and advance faster through the process of writing my dissertation. For more than two years, I have been writing blog posts on a weekly basis for the Foreign Policy Association. More than anything, what that experience has offered me is one of the greatest tools that graduate students need to complete a dissertation: confidence in their writing.

Doctoral students understand that. The problem most of us face, even in disciplines like creative writing, is getting into the habit of actually sitting down and doing it. Complicating matters is the odd assumption in academe that writing skill is a given for most academics. There seems to be some sort of taboo among scholars about discussing writing or how to improve your writing. It is perceived as a weakness to openly admit that you have difficulty writing or are going through a period of writer’s block. We all complain about those taboos on Web sites like Phinished or in our dissertation-writing groups. My solution was to blog. Instead, I’ve found that blogging didn’t detract at all and actually improved the quantity and quality of my scholarly writing. Most important, writing online gave me a feeling of accomplishment that is necessary for every writer. Short-term confidence boosts are especially helpful when you’re writing a doctoral dissertation or a book, which are lengthy processes that can seem endless at times. Another major benefit of blogging has been networking.

The general theme of your blog should be about your research and not about a random topic. As a European Union expert, I write about what I know best and about topics that are shaping my CV in a certain direction—and toward very specific jobs. My blogs will ultimately be used as some sort of portfolio illustrating my CV and proving my ability to reflect and write on pressing issues. Even though it’s been one of the most positive experiences of my professional life, I have come to realize that some parts of the academic world still have reservations about blogging. Change is slow in academe, and many scholars still seem to recognize only publication in peer-reviewed journals and established magazines as a sign of solid and relevant research. It is absolutely true that 1,000 blog posts will never equal one article in a peer-reviewed journal. However, those perceptions are changing. In recent years, many well-established scholars have joined new blogging platforms like ProSyndicate, Foreign Policy, and others. As a final word of advice, I would say that joining an already-established blog connected to an organization is a much more beneficial experience than starting your own blog. Being part of a known organization is the easiest way to get your posts circulating in the larger world, instead of being read only by your immediate circle of family members and friends. The amount of work required to maintain your own blog is too great, as opposed to being part of a larger structure that is doing the promotion for you.

First, thank you for your concrete help in suggestions I am going to explore. I especially love the story about the poet without direction who found her way. I am going to read the hubs you included tonight and follow up with the book. I wanted to share several things that happened to me in the last 48-hours. First, my latest letter was read on the local PBS show, “Donnybrook” yesterday. I’m firing on all cylinders at Donnybrook! 1 watched show of its kind, nationally, on PBS. That is a confidence booster! The day before a handsome friend who use to rent next door stopped by again. We shared some wine, fantastic conversation and a really great kiss. He indulged in a little too much vino and in good conscience, I couldn’t send him on his long way home. He told me some ego-boosting thoughts, but get this, izettl. I’m not ready to jump into a relationship and I told him that.

He was disappointed, but not devastated and told me, regardless, he will always love me as a friend. I believe him. Ironically, it was his verbiage that “we are too old to not do what we want”. I agree with that and it is precisely why I won’t do anything I don’t want to. For me, that is progress. Yesterday, I went to the store, about 1/2-hour away, for my daughter. While in the store I noticed a man looking at me like he recognized me. I went about my business as he didn’t say anything. When I got into my car to leave, there he was. He was pleasant enough and asked me if I remembered him. I didn’t, but he looked so hopeful, I asked if he was an electrician (out in the field) at my last workplace. He lit up and said yes, he remembered me from the office. He said I was cute and I wondered what his gig was. He said it was his birthday and I gave him the standard greeting.

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