Academics build careers on the page through manuscripts and proposals. These submissions and publications are the concrete work of our scholarly or research efforts over the years. In this way, words (which explain our data and novel insights) are the very building blocks of our careers. We quite literally build the ideas, knowledge, and reputations of our careers through the words we place on the page for others to read.


This metaphor of words as “building blocks” refers most aptly to the products of our efforts–our submissions, publications, digital or hardcopy pages. That writing is done.


For the writing we have yet to write, the metaphor of a “journey” better describes our practice of sitting down regularly, our processes in arranging one word after another, and of our often epic efforts to overcome internal (and external) writing challenges.


Many of us are haunted on our career-building journeys by what Joli Jensen calls the daemons of “the perfect first sentence,” of the “magnum opus,” of “who am I compared to X [important scholar in the field]?” or of needing just “one more source” before putting words to the page. There are many daemons (an ancient term for divinity, muse or spirit) that haunt writers.


With awareness, they will provide us with guidance rather than hinderance. The writing pressures encourage us to ask: What can I do right here, right now to make this sentence more readable? or What can I learn from how this important scholar writes about X? Take a moment and a breath and ask your daemon for directions.


We can be equally driven by our writing pleasures: the excitement of the chase of a new idea on the page, the desire to share our findings and analyses with colleagues, and the thrill of seeing our ideas in print. Always edifying and worth celebrating along our way!


Ultimately, an academic’s relationship with writing (practice, process, product, persona) is highly complex, often taken for granted, and ever changeable. We are rarely the writers we wish to be–we may strive to write with more clarity and with greater concision, we may long to wield the language of our field with greater alacrity, we may wish for the process to be ever easier, we may want to feel more confident about it all.


Today, in your career-building journey–early, mid, senior–you may look around and wish to be someplace other than where you are. That desire to be “not here” is its own kind of haunting. If you pay attention however, that desire can help you focus on next steps: to read an article about career-building through writing, to practice “write at speed” methods, to connect with a colleague in the field to learn more, to breathe deeply and relax before putting fingers to the keyboard.

We must start where we are. Here and now.


It seems almost too obvious, too simple of a reminder. But, take it forward with you and test it out. It is simple but powerful. The awareness that “you are here” is essential for us to get clear, to relax and step forward in a healthful and productive direction, to build the next block. With awareness, we each select the next word and contribute meaningfully to the written conversations in our fields.


Our journeys of professional contribution and growth cannot be done without connecting meaningfully (or traveling) with the words of other writers. Pema Chödrön (author of Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living) and Joli Jensen joined me on my foray into today’s consideration of the nature of who we are as research and scholarly writers.


It is good to be here with you for a moment as you build your career through writing.


Journey onward!

Maybe you’ve noticed CSU Writes doesn’t Tweet, isn’t posting on Facebook, and never ‘grams our lunch.


You won’t find CSU Writes posting updates or program announcements to social media for simple reasons: It would be counter-productive and against our program purpose. CSU Writes provides “distraction-free,” deep-focus, accountable writing spaces to support our research and scholarly writing productivity. To post our updates to social media would undermine the program’s focus, as well as your own.


A body of research on social media shows that when we are tempted with the distraction of scrolling on these platforms, we often sacrifice our capacity for deep work. When a large part of writing is, well, sitting down or settling in and putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, posting to and scrolling through media feeds is counter to our primary research or scholarly goals.


Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, has spent more than a decade thinking and writing about knowledge work in a digital world and economy. Newport’s work notes that most of the digital communication “pings” and “dings” that so many of us accept as necessary to our daily life are counterproductive–literally, we produce poorer quality and less ample work than we would if we disconnected from social media and email. In fact, we now know that social media platforms and the devices on which we use them were designed to be as engaging (in other words ,“distracting”) as possible.


In Deep Work, Newport focuses extensively on the natural mismatch between being productive and the draw of social media. Newport’s work reminds us that we write best when we can be focused—deeply—and become immersed in our work. Good research is good writing. And, good writing requires deep work.


Newport’s other books, A World Without Email, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Digital Minimalism, also attend to best practices for productive knowledge workers.


So, if we want to help you become the best writer you can, which, again, inevitably involves sitting down and writing, at CSU Writes, we had to conclude that it would be hypocritical if we took your time and attention away from your writing to “ping” you about an upcoming workshop or retreat.


We’d like to humbly pose a question as we close this newsletter piece…is your attention to social media drawing your attention away from your writing?


If yes, CSU Writes is here to help redirect your attention. While you are here, peruse the upcoming retreat schedule and sign up for an intensive distraction-free writing experience, or reach out to proctor show up & write., which provides writers with a distraction-free virtual writing space daily. Or reach out for a consultation and conversation, we’d love to talk with you about your deep-work projects. Write (don’t scroll) on!

The tulips are blooming and we have crossed our fingers for rain on the Front Range of the Rockies. That can only mean one thing – it’s time to wrap up the academic year! To support your summer writing, we’ve compiled some important resources and helpful tips to get you through the end of the semester and into the summer.


We at CSU Writes thank you for a year of writing bravery, honesty, and hard work. We also recognize we remain in tumultuous times, and we encourage you to take a moment soon to rest, take a deep breath, and celebrate your semester’s work. For now, we’ll leave these support queries with you.


Do you need…

help finding additional sources for your research?

Complete this form to ask a research question. A library staff member will be in touch with you in two business days.

a quiet place to work?

Reserve a study room at Morgan Library. You can reserve up to three hours a day one week in advance.

tech assistance?

If you just need a tech tune-up, you can access the Computer Diagnostic Center for free at Morgan Library. If you need some extensive help, the Computer Repair Center is located at RamTech in Lory Student Center.

aid securing groceries?

Writing well requires that we eat well. Rams Against Hunger provides multiple resources to students, faculty, and staff experiencing food insecurity. The Lory Student Center (room 140) is home to the main Rams Against Hunger Food Pantry. They are closed Saturday-Tuesday and open from 3-6p on Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 9a-12p on Fridays. There are additional Rams Against Hunger Pocket Pantries proximate to campus. You can find those locations here.

a mental health check-in?

Writing well also means caring for our mental health. SilverCloud Health offers self-guided online programs based on Cognitive Behavioral therapy to help you enhance well-being, manage anxiety and depression, improve your sleep, boost your body image, and more. The Nod App offers suggestions for strengthening social ties using evidence-based practices. These online mental health resources are available to you 24/7.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves or others, please call 970-494-4200 (SummitStone Health Partners, available 24/7).

Graduate students can access additional wellness resources through the Wellness Competencies webpage on Graduate School website.


Remember, you have CSU Writes cheering you on through the end of semester and summer months! We send you resources and strength to finish the semester and start the summer strong.

Years ago, in pre-pandemic times, Dr. Lindsey Schneider, Assistant Professor in Ethnic Studies, reached out to CSU Writes to start the Faculty and Researcher of Color (FROC) show up & write. Through pandemic and multiple projects, she has helped CSU’s researchers of color write together–sometimes online and sometimes in person. Dr. Schneider shows up and creates a supportive and productive space for writing to take place.


show up & write. is a drop-in writing program that designates a pace on campus (or virtually on MSTeams) for writers to write together. It is a simple and effective way for writers to keep their writing on track and support one another along the way.


Below is an interview with Dr. Schneider who proctors show up & write. each fall and spring semester.


How long have you been a proctor?

Since Fall 2019

How often do you proctor?

Every semester (The FROC session meets twice a week)

How would you describe the sense of community created through show up & write.?

For the FROC group, most of us are called on to do a lot of extra service and consultation work across the university because of who we are, so it’s really nice to have a space where we are just focused on our actual research. At the same time, it’s a space where we all implicitly understand the extra work that comes with being “diverse” faculty, so we can support each other in setting boundaries and prioritizing our research.

How have sessions changed throughout the pandemic?

We moved to Teams, which actually seems to work better for most of the folks in our group.

How has that transition impacted the writing community?

I think some folks are able to come more often because it’s easier to pop into a Teams meeting for 20 minutes, where if it was in person you might not trek across campus for that. But I think it might also be a little more intimidating for new people to join when it’s not an in-person session.

Could you please comment on the value of showing up to write regularly?

It’s everything! For me at least, it’s just the only way to actually make sure my projects are moving forward at the pace I need them to as junior faculty. show up & write. helps me stay in the mindset of prioritizing writing time on my calendar and making it happen just like I do with teaching and service.


If you are a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, faculty or researcher of color and you would like to join FROC writes in the fall, look for access on the CSU Writes website. Dr. Schneider will join you then.


From the CSU writing community, thank you, Dr. Schneider, for creating and building FROC show up & write.!

Have you ever had big writing goals for your week only to realize it’s Friday and haven’t started yet?

Maybe every day it feels like you don’t have enough time to write.

Or find yourself perpetually sidetracked from your writing project by that next article you must read? 


That’s where show up & write can help. It sounds simple, and it is. Showing up regularly to write, especially in a space with fellow writers, can transform your writing experience and infuse you with accountability and focus  to achieve your goals.


Here’s what a few graduate students have to say about why they show up & write:  

Show Up & Write helps supports my writing as a deliberate practice. The hardest part is just showing up, but I find that when I do I always get something done and a little pressure is relieved from my workload.

 – Lauren Vilen, Graduate Student, School of Education


Writing my goals, even if in a session by myself, makes my goal more salient and improves my focus.Over time, I’ve become better at realistic goal-setting. Perhaps for the same reason I add items to my to-do list after I’ve already completed them… but,I find being able to write, ”I accomplished my goal” at the end of a session so satisfying!

 – Laura van der Pol, Graduate Student, Soil & Crop Sciences Dept 


“I have been participating and proctoring for Show Up & Write for about a year now. This supportive community has helped instill healthy writing habits as I work towards my graduate degree. The accountability, cheerleading, and positive atmosphere have been invaluable!

 – Annie Halseth, Graduate Student, English Department


How can you bring these gifts into your writing life as well?

show up & write

  1. Join this Teams session anytime; there are proctors to greet you  between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. M – F.
  2. Write your goals for the session into the chat
  3. Update fellow writings on how your writing session went before you leave


It can be that simple. Try putting a block of time on your calendar every week when you want to show up and write. Better yet sign up to the show up and write proctor where you know others are counting on you to hold a space for them to show up and write as well.


We all struggle at times with distractions, anxiety, perfectionism, procrastination, fatigue, and more. The writing process is fraught with challenges. You can give yourself a small advantage by committing to show up and write regularly.


CSU Writes is also exploring having in person show up and write sessions again, which have mostly disappeared since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When you show up & write you show up for yourself. When you proctor, you show up for someone else, too. CSU Writes hopes to offer in person show up & write sessions and we’re looking for proctors to hold that space in the Morgan Library. If that interests you, or if you would like to proctor an in-person or virtual show up and write session, please complete this Google form.


Join show up & write on Teams:

Sign up to proctor: 

We have all heard the advice to start writing grants early. By writing early, we can gather and build the components of the proposal gradually as we craft a high-quality submission. Contrary to what you might be thinking, starting early does not necessarily mean that we will spend more time writing the proposal. In fact, it may mean that you will spend less time overall and have a better proposal in the end.


How is this possible?


By writing at regular intervals, planning next steps strategically, and being held accountable for identifying and meeting writing goal, writers will far out produce writers who binge or write at the last minute.


To help CSU researchers write early, GRANT Writes provides as series of offerings that grant writers can pick and choose from over Spring and Summer 2022.


GRANT Writes includes weekly goal setting sessions, two grant retreats, peer-review groups, and a “sentence-level” successful proposal workshop. These events are co-organized and co-facilitated with CSU campus partners.


GRANT Writes is open to writers at all stages of their career development (faculty, postdoc, researcher, graduate student). Writers should be actively working on a proposal for submission in 2022. All types of proposal writing welcome: NIH, NSF, NEH, NEA, DOD, DARPA, Foundation, and more! No matter your directorate, GRANT Writes can work for you!


For those writing no-deadline proposals, GRANT Writes can help you set and meet your own deadlines. In fact, you may be more competitive than before by setting and meeting your own deadline. For instance, select NSF grants saw upwards of a 70% drop in submissions, simply by removing their deadlines. (Apparently, deadlines do work.) Take advantage of less competition by submitting your grant in 2022!



Weekly Strategy Sessions (Monday mornings)

9-9:15am | with optional writing session 9:15-10:30am (Teams)

Set your week’s writing goals with low-stakes accountability. Open to all grant writers, this program option may be especially beneficial for NSF no-deadline writers. (Set a deadline and have peer support for meeting your goal.) Co-hosted with Dr. BreeAnn Brandhagan with the Research Acceleration Office. BreeAnn will provide weekly advice on next steps (particularly helpful for NSF-Career writers).



April 2| 8:30-4:30pm (virtual)

Co-organized with the Office of the Vice-President for Research RAO. Each retreat offers grant writers up to five hours of dedicated prep and writing time, expert speaker presentations, and afternoon breakout discussion sessions. Retreats are a great opportunity for researchers to make significant progress on a proposal.



April 7 | 12-1pm |

“Grant Proposals at the Sentence Level”

Co-led by Dr, Jeff Wilusz (MIP) and Dr. Kristina Quynn

We examine what makes proposals succeed or fail and why at the sentence level.


Generating and Feedback Groups:

March – June 2022

grant generating and feedback groups will meet regularly to provide accountability, collegial support, and feedback to build writing momentum and craft high-quality proposals.

Maybe you’ve heard us say “may your writing be brief, frequent, low stress, and highly rewarding.” Have you ever wondered where that comes from?


In Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics, Dr. Joli Jensen, founder of the Henneke Faculty Writing Program at the University of Tulsa, reminds us that the “key to scholarly writing pleasure” comes from regular, low stakes (i.e., low stress) and engaging sessions with our research and scholarly writing projects. Jensen points out that writers who procrastinate and binge in long stretches often find writing stressful and tend to avoid writing to the degree their projects may stall.


Such stalls are talked about openly and honestly at CSU Writes and are the subject of the upcoming GRAD Writes workshop: “Overcoming Writing Stall to Build Momentum,” April 6, 2-2:50. In this and other workshops, we recognize the necessity of working through challenging periods of getting pen to paper.

Most writers will face blocks in their work. As individuals, we each face our own unique challenges—perhaps even routinely so. To identify and address these individual needs, we devised Wheel of Writing Life. The wheel helps writers quickly identify their writing

As individuals, we each face our own unique challenges—perhaps even routinely so. To identify and address these individual needs, we devised Wheel of Writing Life. The wheel helps writers quickly identify their writing strengths and weaknesses so that they can see what may be stalling them and to then target specific professional development and approaches to support “brief, frequent, low stress, and highly rewarding encounters” with their projects.

We use the wheel in the workshop as an awareness-raising exercise. To counter the common problem of the writing block, we must first understand what unique hurdles we face as writers. Once those are identified, we can work on problem solving to the specific problem—or problems—you face as a writer.


In the workshop we will also discuss Jensen’s techniques to overcome writing stalls. Jensen’s three “taming techniques” serve as practical and effective writing strategies for any writer. These techniques include 1) write for at least fifteen minutes, six days a week, 2) use a project box to contain writing, and 3) vent challenges in a ventilation file.


The project box is a literal box that contains documents and resources related to a specific writing project. By using the box to dictate when you write, you can literally put the project away by closing the box when you are done working for the day.


The ventilation file can take several different forms. Perhaps you include a journal or notebook in you project box, or maybe you have a Word document for this purpose, but the ventilation file is a place for you to write about the project, your progress, your process, or the things keeping you from finding and building momentum.


Aligned with the wheel’s categories, CSU Writes addresses the four primary areas research writers struggle most: space, time, energy/momentum, and style. We do this practically through workshops, retreats, guest speakers, show up & write., and peer editing groups.


To learn more about the Writing Life Wheel, habits to build and sustain writing momentum, and how to redirect our inner writing critics, consider attending our workshops and retreats for FACULTY Writes, GRAD Writes, and our special events.

What’s the first thing you do when you start a new writing project?


Draft an outline? Do a literature review? Well, it probably depends on what you’re writing.


So, it’s extra rare to happen upon a writing tip that might just work for any project you have. Take note, as CSU’s own Dr. Brooke Anderson, PhD, offers a somewhat magical recommendation on visualizing and starting your writing project at the same time.


“I write a lot of academic papers as part of my work, and then I’ve also gotten some funding from the NIH to write some training modules. So a lot of my day-to-day is writing and trying to get products out,” she recently told us.


“There were two problems that led to this [technique]. The first problem is I hate looking at a blank page when it’s time to start a project. It’s maybe the worst thing to look at that and try to come up with something to fill it with, and I think that’s probably true of a lot of writers…the second thing though, that might be more unique to academic writers, is a lot of times I was finding that I would over-write in terms of the amount I needed for the paper, and then not only would spend a lot of time writing, but then have to spend a lot of time going back and getting it down to the length that I need for that journal.”




Dr. Anderson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences. Her research focuses on how climate-related disasters effect human health. She has completed national-level studies on health risks associated with climate-related exposures. Safe to say, she is writing long pieces and writing often.




Her old technique was “to draft out everything that I thought was important to say and then look at the word count and then realize I was thousands of words over.”


Her new and improved method, the “Lorem Ipsum Technique”—something Dr. Anderson is confident she did not invent but did introduce to CSU Writes—works something like this: open a blank document for writing and search for a Lorem Ipsum text generator (like one of these). Identify the amount of writing you’re settling in to do—5,000 words? 500? 2 pages? No limit? Enter the amount of text you need into the generator and copy and paste that into your blank document.


“It’s the kind of thing that maybe it’s so simple it’s actually got some brilliance to it,” Dr. Anderson disclosed.


Depending on what you’re writing, you might want to break down your writing by subheadings. For example, if you need to have an introduction section, mark it off with approximately the amount of Lorem Ipsum text you have budgeted to introduce the reader to your topic. Going sentence-by-sentence, Dr. Anderson then replaces the Lorem Ipsum filler text with her writing.


Lorem Ipsum has a long history—and some Latin roots. According to Professor Richard McClintock (Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia), Lorem Ipsum can be traced to Cicero’s “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil). Fast forward to today, and it’s helping Dr. Anderson write faster and more efficiently.


“I think one of the things about the CSU Writes programming that is really wonderful is it’s nice to always have fresh ideas coming in and new things to try…I do so much writing and I know other academics do so much writing that I think it’s easy for the process to get stale. One of the wonderful things about CSU writes…is the chance for people to talk about their process.”


Check out a schedule of our retreats and other events here, and thank you Dr. Anderson for sharing a writing tip with us!

Publishing academic research and scholarship is a costly enterprise—on multiple fronts—and many costs have now shifted to the submitting author. 


Efforts to increase accessibility to academic publications are broadly called “open access.” The obvious way this relationship works is by removing the paywall required to read articles. There are some other benefits to open access. For example, open access articles increase visibility of researchers’ work and authors maintain their copyright and do not have to request permission to reuse their work. 


Open access can help the author, too. Article processing charges, or APCs, can be prohibitive for authors to publish, particularly in premier journals. APCs can range from around $1000 to over $10,000 per article. For journals that have an article processing charge, the average APC runs between $1,500 and $2,500.  


There are some alternatives here at CSU that can help. CSU Libraries negotiated agreements with the publishers Wiley and Cambridge to waive the APCs for some journals. 


The new agreement with Wiley covers APCs for primary research and review articles published by corresponding authors affiliated with CSU. To qualify, articles must be published open access in a hybrid journal—subscription journals that give authors an opportunity to publish their article as open access in exchange for payment of an APC—and must have been accepted on or after January 1, 2022. 


The agreement with Cambridge University Press, the “Read & Publish” agreement, allows any CSU corresponding author to publish in any Cambridge open access/hybrid journal without paying any article processing charges. CSU Libraries will pay the APC on the author’s behalf as part of CSU Libraries’ transformative agreement with Cambridge. 


What—or who—is a “corresponding author,” you ask? According to Cambridge, “the Corresponding Author is the person who handles the manuscript and correspondence during the publication process, including approving the article proof.” 


While the jargon of higher education might pose another barrier to engaging and creating scholarly work, CSU Libraries are working to ensure cost doesn’t keep you from sharing your research or scholarly work. 


CSU Writes offers a variety of programming to help you progress on your academic writing for publication, and we encourage you to view our event schedule on our website.  


Questions about the open access? Get in touch with Copyright and Scholarly Communication Librarian, Khaleedah Thomas, at 

Writing collaboratively with colleagues who share your research or scholarly interests can be one of the great joys of academic life. The benefits of coauthoring are tangible and subtle: we often produce higher quality manuscripts and proposals than we would if writing solo, and writing with others can be so much more fun than writing alone!


Coauthoring a document with others can also be challenging, complete with unexpected delays, content negotiations, and stylistic compromises. Depending on how well we know ourselves and our partners as writers, the process of coauthoing a highly structured, high-quality document can also be highly mystifying at times.


While we cannot demystify all collaborative writing issues here, we can share two pre-strategy steps and a couple resources for your journey.


For now, we will take for granted that you and your coauthor(s) have an agreed-upon writing project with an agreed-upon target for submission.


You may be thinking, our first steps are to plan and to strategize by divvying up tasks, arrange a project timeline with benchmarks, and decide upon our communication, drafting, and revision approaches. If you are, you are very smart, but you have skipped a couple crucial pre-strategy relational writing steps.


Take a step back and start instead with a writing-centered or meta-writing conversation to get to know colleagues as writers:


Step 1. Ask each other questions about what most influences your current writing processes, practices, and preferences:

  • What types of reading and writing you each enjoy? Answering this question helps coauthors understand the types of writing styles and interests that have influenced them (may even have an influence on their word choice and style choices).
  • What are your top writing pet-peeves? (do not limit to grammar issues–consider process, practice, and reviews) Answering this question helps coauthors better understand where to take care of their colleagues.
  • Are you most often a before-deadline, deadline, or post-deadline writer? Answering this question will help coauthors understand the place of deadlines, timelines, and work pressures in the collaboration.
  • Describe your current projects and workload. Addressing the constraints on each other’s time helps coauthors to be realistic in writing project planning and in supporting each other along the way to successful submission.
  • How comfortable are you in talking openly about your writing background, experiences, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses? Most of us can feel uncomfortable or vulnerable when talking about who we are as writers or about our writing challenges. Whether you or your coauthors feel comfortable sharing openly or feel more reserved, it is great to hear each other so that you can expect to touch base with one another in ways that are mutually supportive.


Step 2. Listen actively and nonjudgmentally to your colleagues’ responses. Be curious. Listen to learn about your writing partner(s), to hear about who they are and about how they came to write as they do–the good, the bad, and the lovely.


The primary goal of this two-step meta-writing pre-planning conversation is for you to better understand each other so that you can glimpse how you might best write together.


Most of us want to focus first on the writing product, on the outcomes so that we might devise plans on how to submit our work for publication, funding, or recognition. Focusing on writing products is important, for sure, but the products will be the result of a successful collaboration between people. People who are smart, skilled, complex, challenged, and many other categories of uniqueness who may occasionally mystify us.


These steps need not take much time. Only as long as it takes to talk and listen to your partner or team. What would that be? 10 minutes? 15?, 30? Not much more time than a conversation. And, you will save so much more time over the length of your project by better understanding how to work with each other.


If you’d like to learn more about collaborative writing practices and processes, CSU Writes has multiple options for you across the career-span:


This semester (S22), we have FACULTY Writes collaborative writing workshops:

APR 12, 12-12:50 Collaborative Writing I: Simple Rules

APR 20, 12-12:50 Collaborative Writing II: Writing across Differences


Over the summer, we will offer a month-long workshop intensive for faculty mentors who write with their graduate student mentees. Email for more information:


And, next fall (F22), CSU Writes will offer workshops GRAD Writes collaborative writing workshops for graduate students.


Until we meet then, may your writing together be brief, frequent, low stress and highly rewarding.