July 3, 2008

What's your crap quotient?

I just got off the phone with a wise and experienced tenured professor client who I'm coaching. She recounted some advice that one of her mentors had given her long ago. This person had been an extremely prolific writer with many publications.

She said, "Your crap quotient is too low."

What did she mean by this? One way to look at it is this: If every article you send out is accepted for publication, it probably means that you could have sent out more. In order to learn how to write better, you need to write more. In order to improve your research and writing, you need feedback. Even article rejections help you learn. You might find out what kind of article is or isn't appropriate for that journal. You might get suggestions from reviewers, that as much as you hate them, are helpful for improving the article.

If you're holding on to your work until it's perfect, then you're not publishing as much as you might, and you're probably holding yourself back in other ways. Because creative ideas come from regular writing, there's a good chance that you're not as creative, along with not being as productive as you might have been.

I find that many of the professors I work with have a much lower opinion of their own work than everyone else does. If you're the kind of person that tends to be too self-critical, consider releasing more of your work into the world as soon as possible. You'll find out sooner whether you're on the right path or not, you'll improve your work, and you'll be freed up to write some high-quality work.

Do you hold on to your work too long, fearing that it's crap? Take this wise professor's advice, and increase your crap quotient.



At 1:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent advice - I'm going to save it. I have held onto research for a very long time and now that it's do or die, I'm finally sending it out into the world. I wish I'd been confident enough to do it sooner.


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