Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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I just finished wrapping up the last class in the second generation of MASH Academic Publishing, and one of the questions a participant on the course asked was how I stay motivated to do all the various things I do in EFL and academic writing. I was a bit taken aback by the question at first, because it hadn’t occurred to me that what I do is all that spectacular or different from what I know other people are doing right now.

For example, I know at least one person working on a new EFL textbook series, another working simultaneously, on several graded readers series’, and another friend sat down and wrote five different academic papers this summer, only one of which I helped to coauthor.

Like all good teachers who don’t know the answer to a question, I turned it back to the students to gain time to think, and after I had thought it through, I replied that it could be that where I work I have less power than I would like, and so I use the opportunity to be more involved, and more in control, in my academic writing, that my classes benefit from the different ideas that I encounter as I visit conferences, read papers, and talk to people, and that I use a variety of different techniques, like keeping my email inbox empty, to make sure that the time I spend working is spent efficiently.

All of that is true, but I think the way that I really maintain my involvement is by thinking that what I do is ordinary, because I know other people who are doing much more interesting and exciting things. When I take the time to tell myself how efficient, or how productive I am, I invariably find myself and my output slowing down. So the balance is a kind of controlled deception; I never realize that what I’m doing is impossible, and so I’m able to continue doing it.

And the connections help. Because I know people who are doing much more impossible things than what it is I’m working on.

I sometimes wonder what they think about me.

Theron Muller

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