Tag Archives: imposter syndrome

Tacking, shifting and stitching

So I’ve had a little of a break from my online writing over Easter. I spent some time down the coast and ended up spending most of my time thinking and daydreaming about writing. Suffice to say by the time I got home, there was a scratch that only writing could itch and I spent all of yesterday working on a couple of projects that had been lingering.

By the sea, my thoughts about what I was writing started to meld together. I’d driven down to the breakwater and sat there as the Easter tides crashed against the manmade barrier and foam and spray surged over the wall and onto people perched against the railing with cameras to capture the sea in all her glory. As I sat there thinking I began to see how sometimes seemingly disparate ideas could be stitched together to make a coherent whole. Yesterday, when I sat down to write I had one of those days where I could get lost in what I was writing. I had decided to start with a 25 min pomodoro session to get me going, but instead I just wrote and the 25 mins drifted past me without realizing. So it may have been a pomodoro fail or a writing success depending on how you look at it.

When I returned home from the beach a copy of Robert Nash’s Liberating Scholarly Writing: The power of personal narrative (2004) had arrived in the mail and so it is on my list of reading for today.  This was a book that Pat Goodson had recommended to me and I’m looking forward to reading it. I had a very quick look at the opening chapter yesterday and was struck by this line “Good teaching, good helping, and good leadership are, in one sense, all about storytelling and story-evoking. It is in the mutual exchange of stories that professionals and scholars are able to meet clients and students where they actually live their lives” (p. 2). Already I like this notion of the mutual exchange of stories, of the points in which our lives and stories intersect and of stories being the place where we can uncover more about the world, ourselves and our work through that meeting. After a gloomy day here yesterday, the sky is blue and I figure this is the perfect way to spend the afternoon after doing a bit of writing this morning on a research proposal and a couple of abstracts.

Speaking of writing abstracts, I’m doing some experimentation with abstract and journal writing courtesy of Pat Thomson who is currently in Iceland running a short writing course. You can find out more about her course here:


Today she uploaded an overview of what she had done in that day’s session and she invites you to write along at home if you so desire:


As I was about to start on an abstract proposal for a conference I wanted to attend in December I thought I’d start with her 2 x 5 minute shut up and write activities to help me on my way. What surprised me was doing the 5 min writing activity on ‘the article I’m going to write’. When I sat down to write I had a vague idea of what I wanted to think about in the paper I might present, but in 5 minutes I was able to jot down a whole range of ideas that I wanted to cover. Looking back over what I’ve written, I think there might be more than one paper in there, so it’s time to do some paring back and work out what fits where. At the moment I’ve got too many pieces that I’m wanting to put into one puzzle, so I need to take out some of the pieces that don’t go with this picture and put them somewhere else.

The second 5 minute writing activity on ‘why journal readers need to read my article’ was a really good way of getting me to think about the ‘so what?’ question. In 5 minutes I had to think about and sharpen my ideas of why what I’m doing matters, what is it adding to the cacophony of noise out there already about teaching and teacher education. Even though I can  answer the ‘so what?’ question, it is at this point that the imposter monster rears up and questions  ‘Why does your voice matter?’ Sometimes he’s useful as he keeps me honest, but other times, he can become debilitating, halting progress and keeping me stuck. At times like these though when I need a critical voice asking ‘so what?’, I let him out of his cage, give him a bit of food and air, and then lock him back away until I might need him again.

10 minutes in total and I’ve got some ideas that are starting to form shape. With some moulding, rearranging and stitching they too will become part of the coherent whole I picture in my brain. I’m going off to do some more tacking as I place the draft pieces together, moving them to see where their seams fit together perfectly.