Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All

The worst advice I’ve ever been given to beat writer’s block can be summed up in two words: just start. Let me tell you why that advice sucks.

First, there is nothing more terrifying than a blinking cursor on a blank page combined with high expectations.

Do you have a million ideas and no idea which one to choose?

Do you have a quickly approaching deadline?

Are you a perfectionist?

Whatever form your high expectations take, being told to just start is a recipe for disaster. Staring at a blank page is the surest way for me to do just about anything else instead.

Writer's block affects all of us

Second, when someone tells you to just start, they rarely if ever tell you where to start. Put another way, they never tell you what to start with. It’s like giving you a box of furniture parts and some tools, but no instruction manual.

There are two ways to approach this situation.

You might abandon the task entirely, which is entirely fair. They put you in an impossible situation!

Alternatively, you might break down and choose a place to start that looks straightforward enough. But it would be a lot easier if you had a piece of paper that enumerated each of the steps for you.

For most of us, the stakes are too high to go with the first option, so we figure out where to start eventually.

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Notes from AIA-SCS 2022

Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?

The 2022 AIA-SCS conference was virtual again this year.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident. 

Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.

I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:

  1. Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
  2. How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
  3. When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?

I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.

Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.

You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.

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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Five

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the fifth and final day of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge.

If you missed the other days of the challenge, or if you want to start from the beginning again, here they are:

Day 1: Syllabus Audit

Day 2: Traditional vs Innovative Strategies for Syllabus Engagement

Day 3: Examples of Syllabus Engagement Strategies in Action

Day 4: Common Harmful Assumptions We Make About Students

Today’s installment of the challenge is all about reflecting on the process.

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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Four: Avoiding Assumptions about Students

It’s day four of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge! If you’re just joining in, don’t forget to check out days one, two, and three. In today’s installment, we’re talking about common harmful assumptions we make about students and how to combat them.

As with the previous days, there is a prompt for you to work through on your own at the end of the post. Feel free to share your thoughts with the community by commenting on this post, or on social media by tagging @ApothekeBlog or #SyllabusShakeUp!

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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Three

It’s day three of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge! If you’ve made it this far, you’re amazing. 

In today’s post, I am sharing a few examples of syllabus engagement strategies in action. Some of these are things that I have tried before, while others are strategies that I would like to try out sometime in the future.

As with the previous days, there is a prompt for you to work through on your own at the end of the post. Feel free to share your thoughts with the community by commenting on this post, or on social media by tagging @ApothekeBlog or #SyllabusShakeUp!

Just joining in? Here’s where you can find days one and two of the challenge.

2022 syllabus shake-up challenge
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Syllabus Shake-Up Day Two

Welcome to day two of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge! In today’s post, I’m talking about traditional approaches to syllabus engagement and new strategies that an instructor can use that are more effective. 

If you’re just joining in, you can check out day one of the challenge here.

As with the previous days, there is a prompt for you to work through on your own at the end of the post. Feel free to share your thoughts with the community by commenting on this post, or on social media by tagging @ApothekeBlog or #SyllabusShakeUp!

A challenge for instructors to increase engagement with their syllabi
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2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge

“All too often we have been trained as professors to assume students are not capable of acting responsibly, that if we don’t exert control over them, then there’s just going to be mayhem.” – bell hooks 1994: 152

Welcome to day one of the 2022 Syllabus Shake-Up Challenge! Last year, around this time I decided to do a short challenge geared towards highlighting the work and experiences of BIPOC in the field. 

Since then, I haven’t had the time or energy to lead other challenges, but made it one of my resolutions for the blog to do at least two in 2022. 

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The Ultimate Checklist for Funding Applications

I think we can all agree that January is the Monday of the year. It didn’t really hit me until I started grad school and realized that there are a lot of things that happen in January. The biggest thing: funding application deadlines.

Image of one research trip that I was able to go on because of a successful funding application

January Application Deadlines

In case you don’t believe me, I have pulled from my masterpost of funding opportunities for BIPOC in Classics all of the ones that have deadlines in January. They are:

Helen Maria Chesnutt Scholarship for Equity in Classical Study. This scholarship is intended to support undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups to further their study of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean world and not excluding reception studies. (15 January 2022)

William Sanders Scarborough Fellowship (ASCSA). This fellowship provides support for graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars in North America whose diverse experiences and backgrounds are underrepresented at the American School, and whose studies, research, or teaching would benefit from residency at the School. (15 January 2022)

Point Scholarship. The Point Foundation (Point) is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Point Foundation considers many factors when assessing scholarship applicants, including academic performance, leadership skills, financial need, personal goals and the applicant’s involvement in the LGBTQ community. (26 January 2022)

Rudolph Masciantonio CAMWS Diversity Award (CAMWS). Awardees will be those whom the profession or life circumstances or  societal structures have limited in their access to the study of our field. Awarded each year to one undergraduate and one graduate student. (31 January 2022)

Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship. The Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship (HUGS) intends to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities obtaining degrees in archaeology. Graduate and undergraduate students.  (31 January 2022)

Native American Scholarships Fund (NASF). An endowment established to foster a sense of shared purpose and positive interaction between archaeologists and Native Americans. It supports the Arthur C. Parker Scholarship for Archaeological Training for Native Americans and the SAA Native American Undergraduate and Graduate Archaeology Scholarships. Undergraduate and graduate student funding. (31 January 2022)

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Notes from the Apotheke Turns One: Here’s What I Learned

I think we can all agree that this year was not all that much better than 2020. I don’t know if anyone expected it to be better. But I feel like the vibes were pretty much the same, even though starting this blog gave me some hope that things would change.

As always, however, many people have tried to look on the bright side of things.

They’ve sought the light in the almost overwhelming darkness.

I think in particular of one thread going around last week that asked people to share their 3 biggest accomplishments of the year:

A lot of people made light of this – and that’s understandable. Sometimes the only way to get through the hard things is to find a way to laugh about it.

But I think it’s good to stop sometimes and really appreciate the wins, no matter how big or small.

I struggle with doing this myself, and thought that a little celebratory post was in order here. And what, exactly, am I celebrating?

The one year anniversary of this little blog.

If you listened to the podcast episode I was featured on last week, then you’ll know that I started Notes from the Apotheke exactly one year ago.

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The Introvert’s Guide to Conference Presentations (Hidden Curriculum #7)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had technical difficulties while giving a presentation.

How about if you’ve ever been given the five-minute warning from a session presider? Or if you’ve ever been asked a question in the Q&A that you didn’t have the answer to?

The unfortunate reality is that the possibilities for things to go wrong during a conference presentation are endless. I’m sure any seasoned veteran can confirm that they’ve experienced at least one or two over the years. I’ve been there, too. You know what we all have in common?

We got through it. And you will too. Your chances of getting through it are exponentially better if you do the following seven things.

Me giving a presentation at a small graduate conference in March 2019
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