You and your career as a wiki

This post follows the discussion on competition and I came up with it as I tried to figure out how to reorganize my files so as to work better, and considered programs like Scrivener.

I saw that Scrivener is a wiki, which is why I find it attractive; it has a sidebar that you can customize, and you can split the screen. This means you have a map of your project around you at all times. I like the idea because it is how I write, except that the map is all around me physically on cards and in paper files. Yes, I could have all that digitally, but it would not be around my draft, it would be behind it, and this is why I like the idea of a wiki.

What does managing a manuscript have to do with managing a career or indeed, a self?

After the discussion on competition I realized that the way people get bogged down is that they place competitive projects — getting funded, getting a job, getting a book contract, receiving tenure, getting promoted, winning awards — everything where you compete and are judged or ranked, and win or lose, in their research folder. If you do that, or if you allow teaching related service to crowd your teaching folder, then you are essentially strangling the plant you want to grow.

You should do things as with a wiki. The main part of the screen is split between research and teaching, with research at the top. You resize these windows depending on your type of job or the semester or the day it is, but this is always the main part of the screen. In the sidebar you have service tasks you must do, and research support activity like practice in the new language you are acquiring, as well as teaching support activity such as attending seminars in SLA.

Counterintuitive though it may seem, the sidebar is also the place for every competitive activity. This means the decks are always clear for research and teaching, that is to say for the further development of expertise. You also get things done since you have your sidebar right there and you do the things that are on it, but you never let COMPETITION move into the place of RESEARCH.

This leads us, then, to another of my famous dicta, along the lines of “writing is fun, and publishing is easy” — competition is not part of research, it is part of service.

Axé.


3 thoughts on “You and your career as a wiki

  1. Another wildly insightful comment, and in my case it is literally true: the fellowship applications and similar are within the computer folder called “research.” Well, sometimes they’re in the one called “profwork,” which covers service, correspondance, and other parts of a prof’s work that aren’t clearly teaching or research—depends on the degree to which they are research narratives. I need to think about this; it is somehow in line with my thinking about John McPhee and structuring articles, only this is structuring an approach to career.

  2. You’re making me curious about Scrivener, which I can’t quite visualize, but I agree with you entirely and with DEH that this is another of your important insights! In my case, I have a folder for the second book ms. and a folder for all the poems in progress, but a completely different folder called “Po biz.” Po biz is not poetry, but the business of sending out submissions, assembling applications, tracking and planning. All of those things are competitive to some degree–and while they may make a nice break from writing, they must not be confused with it.

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