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Routines

Bianca Elizabeth Vega

Describe your writing process/routine?

I begin my writing process with a ritual. I make my tea (apple cinnamon!) and head to the office space in my home. Once in my office, I light a candle. At 9:30 am, my alarm goes off to Uptown Anthem by Naughty By Nature, and now it is time to work. I use the Forest App on my phone and make sure to turn on the rainforest sound (I forget forest is on sometimes and end up killing a virtual tree). This ritual clears my head a bit from the doubt which creeps in. Because my day is ridiculously busy with being a belly birth and bonus mami, I create a space for 45 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Even if I never get back to my writing, I at least know I inched toward completion of the manuscript with my 45 minutes. I found this to actually be the most productive of any writing rituals I ever engaged in. Once my 45 minutes are done, I stop what I’m doing and move to another task.

When did you develop your writing process/routine?

I began working with a writing coach during the pandemic – sometime in March 2021.

Why did you develop your writing routine?

When the pandemic hit, I knew I needed support. My responsibilities exploded at home and at work. I was a couple of years shy of submitting my application for tenure. Nothing else worked, not even sitting in front of a screen anymore. Reaching out for help and finding institutional grant money to support my work were essential to this process. Grant money always helps.

How did you improve your academic writing skills?

Daily writing, sharing my work with colleagues, and submitting my work to journals all improved my writing. By submitting my work, I found that I needed time to actually submit the manuscript. But, I also received wonderful feedback which enabled me to apply to other manuscripts. Now when I review articles, I think to myself not only how can I help this person push their article forward, but also how can I help them with skills to help push other manuscripts as well.

What time of day do you find you write best?

Morning (5-6am – 12pm)

What resources helped you become a better writer (books, mentors, writers, etc.)?

Writing coach – Rich Furman, Colleagues and friends such as Dr. Katy Bulkley, Dr. Roman Liera, Dr. Sosanya Jones, Dr. Keisha McIntosh Allen, Dr. Terrenda White, and Dr. Bianca Baldridge

How do you make time for writing with all the other commitments you have?

Writing is the first thing I do when I open my laptop. This was hard at first, but after a few months of training myself to do this, it has become an obsession, just like my dancing ritual. Not all writing sessions are good, but that’s ok because at least I showed up to my job for 45 minutes 😀

What are your strategies for staying productive and for maintaining momentum with your writing?  (get specific and concrete)

Being busy reminds me that I must pay myself first – this means writing/publishing for academics. When I am running low on steam, I reach out to my colleagues to see who wants to join me for a 45 minute session. Not killing trees on my Forest app also is a great motivator. Uptown Anthem reminds me of where I came from. And a bendicion from my mami, who reminds me that my work is mine and no one else’s, is also part of my journey.

What is the best writing advice you have gotten?

You learn by doing. If you aren’t writing, you aren’t doing and you aren’t learning. So just write.

What writing tools do you suggest? (Apps, books, etc.)

Writing coaches! Instagram pages like My Academic Writing Routine. 

What are some specific practices and rules for writing within your discipline that other researchers and graduate students might not be aware of?

OOOOOFFFF. I wish someone taught me that not every article has to be based on interview research. I wish I understood how colonized our research methods are. I wish I knew it is possible to write on your own experiences and realize how valuable your story is, too.

Who are some writers you particularly admire, and what about their writing seems most admirable to you?

I love Derrick Bell and Bell Hooks. I look to them for being what authentic and ethical scholarship looks like. I also love Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, who is a scholar activist. She lives her work – and even wrote a parenting book recently!

What advice would you give to fellow writers (Make this concrete. i.e.: Read widely – what does that look like in practice? How does that benefit the process? What should the writer be looking for when reading?)

WRITE EVERY DAY! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. I don’t care if it is “I HATE WRITING” for 20 minutes! Also, share your work with trusted colleagues. Find a mentor and discuss concrete ways this mentor can help. For example, Dr. Katy Bulkley and I decided she would review a manuscript with me and review how to move it forward. This was extraordinarily helpful!!

Big Yourself Up!: What pubs, books, projects would you like to let others know about? Add links to your website, etc. so people can find you and your work.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Blanca-Elizabeth-Vega Vega, B. E. (2021).

“What Is the Real Belief on Campus?” Perceptions of Racial Conflict at a Minority-Serving Institution and a Historically White Institution. Teachers College Record, 123(9), 144-170. Vega, B. E. (2019, January).

Lessons From an Administrative Closure: The Curious Case of Black Space at an MSI. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 3, p. 88). Frontiers. https://www.latinorebels.com/2020/12/18/callmedoctora/

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