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Any published writers out there?

23 days 27 Last Comment
Larchinect
Aug 30, 14 2:19 am

Do any of you write for publication? From your local op-ed to books and trade magazines, how has writing affected your careerr? 

Ive developed a habit of participating in public discourse over local issues, mainly via op-eds in the local paper. I get a lot of pleasure from crafting arguments on urban design and planning issues. I am careful to maintain a professional, mostly positive tone, but do share my opinion. My objectives center around a deep Iinterest in making our community a better place in addition to the sheer enjoyment I get from writing, but I suppose I also hope there may be the marginal benefit of establishing credibility.

I fully understand, however, how this can backfire and that I may be treading a thin line.

Do you write? Has it benefitted or hindered your practice?

 

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Aug 30, 14 10:31 am

The Hamptons Dictionary has not hurt my design practice. In fact I give it to potential clients - it helps weed out the assholes.

Larchinect
Aug 30, 14 11:46 am

Miles--I live in the rocky mountain version of the hamptons and can identify. Everyone here is chasing the same big game and so there is stigma placed on 'speaking up' for fear of upsetting the herd. Those that do tend to write columns in the local rag tend to be lifers whom as far as I can tell have little relevant experience in anything. They opine on everything under the sun with bravado to make you think they must be seasoned pros. When it comes to local planning and design discourse I have trouble biting my tongue. 

I pursued a career in journalism prior to discovering landscape architecture and only lately rediscovering my passion for writing--not that I'm a gifted writer, but something I thoroughly enjoy for all the same, often masochistic reasons I love design.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Aug 30, 14 12:00 pm

I have trouble biting my tongue. The only reason I stopped speaking out was because of the absolute futility of it. The local press glorifies the rush of crappy development in order to sell more advertising. The local government is essentially a red carpet for developers.

It used to be we had two kinds of people - locals and cidiots. Now we are simply overrun with astronomical money that is only surpassed by infinite stupidity.

citizen
Aug 30, 14 12:37 pm

Impact on career depends upon several things.  What kind of job, for example?  

Academic employers (even part-time) would love to see teaching candidates with published writing.  For full-time tenure-track jobs, it's required of course, and needs to be in peer-reviewed journals, or chapters in anthologies, or monographs.  

On the other hand, professional (firm) employers might be impressed with publications, but will mainly be concerned with the position in question and the applicant's specific skills tailored to that job.  The publications are nice, but probably won't matter in the absence of those pragmatic requirements.  (Of course, your mileage may vary.)  And then there's the occasional firm needing PR content; but that's another kind of writing.

Now, "sheer enjoyment" is your kicker line.  I get that, completely.  I figured out a year or so into my dissertation that the crafting of a compelling narrative out of data and evidence (that otherwise tell no story unless used that way) was itself a design project of sorts, as satisfying (in a certain way) as designing a building.  

If you love writing, then write.  Having a list of publications on your CV may not help in this or that career step, but it certainly won't hurt.

curtkram
Aug 30, 14 12:41 pm

i've written some pieces in tammuz's palestine thread.  i haven't had any feedback as to whether that has helped or hurt my career.  i don't think tammuz likes me very much, but then i don't get the sense that he's the sort of person that will ever be able to afford an architect either, so maybe that isn't such a detriment.

t a m m u z
Aug 30, 14 12:57 pm

your pettiness is your detriment, curtkram. stop dragging your issues with other archinect members on certain threads elsewhere. if you feel anally sensitized by others here, go to a sex shop and ask them for advice. no need to go further.

curtkram
Aug 30, 14 1:05 pm

i was just saying i write stuff on the forums.  that is not petty.  granted, it isn't paid work, but i'm not sure Larchinect intended to specifically refer to paid work.  also i don't think it's petty to say you don't like me very much. you seem to have gone out of your way to post here to make that evident.  as it is, i do not associate you not liking me with anal sex. 

i could have stated i post in the 'can i call myself an architect' threads, but i'm less enthusiastic about that topic compared to some esteemed forum members like jla-x or richard, so i didn't think that would relate as well to my efforts in involving myself in forum discussions as a form of writing.

in addition, by referring to your palestine thread, you are discussing a controversial topic that does have the potential to hurt an architects career.  that should be considered especially relevant to the OP's question.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Aug 30, 14 1:21 pm

Is there a thread on Archinect that tammuz hasn't taken a dump in?

t a m m u z
Aug 30, 14 1:29 pm

curtkram, you write? the OP is asking about writers with published works...not schmucks with a track record of asking redundant questions over and over again without demonstrating the ability to construe decent  arguments over the expanse of lengthy debate. Furthermore, if anything, you're siding for the side that is financially hegemonic within and outside the US. This would certainly not harm you. Not that this is why you're brining it up here...

my liking or disliking of you has nothing to do with anything. that you bring this up in a totally unrelated thread shows that you're either obsessing over me - in which case, again, I advise some person-replacement paraphernalia to take care of your covetous tender ends-  or that you're deliberately trying to mischaracterized another archinect member in order to render her or him a subject of your suggested mockery. This can come only from a snide dishonest individual. Please keep my archinect person out of your posts and any "Palestine" issues you have, bring them over to the pertinent thread rather than force your slimey ego issues elsewhere.  

LITS4FormZ
Aug 30, 14 1:48 pm

copy + paste = success!

t a m m u z
Aug 30, 14 2:01 pm

I wonder what Larchinect means by:  I fully understand, however, how this can backfire and that I may be treading a thin line.

In the sense that it could be detrimental to your business, a critical tone might deter your clients?

I don't know about that. Does it not also expose in you a proclivity to undermine the ability of the readers to be open minded and engage positively with your text? Aren't you, to a small degree, at least,assuming that your reader is going to be narrow minded, hence (possibly) thinking of self censorship? Would that be fair - wouldn't that be narrow-minded in itself, this assumption?

I would see that your writing could act equally as a free "advertising" of your ethos regarding your work - which means you'll channel clients you'd want your way as well as possibly changing and challenging some minds positively.

t a m m u z
Aug 30, 14 2:04 pm

Or else..you could adopt a nom de plume/nom de guerre :0)

Larchinect
Aug 30, 14 2:30 pm

Im self employed in an area not unlike miles' hometown. That is to say, on issues that require a anti/pro growth stance there tends to be a fair amount of political-professional consequence that comes with any shared opinions. I like to think that being genuine, sharingonly my experience and leaving any potential ulterior motives aside Iis a safe position to take while potentially garnering some credibility. II'm sure it can work either way, but mainly I'm surprised, with allmofnthe architects and designers in the area, I'm not finding more professionals sharing their opinions. Admittedly, I harbor a fair amount of disdain for those who censor themselves to complascency, but also find it annoying when the hokeydokes opine on issues they obviously have no clue about asmifnto portray themselves as authority based solely on the fact that they were here in the 70's--presumably the 'good ole days'...

Larchinect
Aug 30, 14 2:31 pm

Please excuse the typos as my tablet is dying..

quizzical
Aug 30, 14 2:57 pm

As I think about this question, the concept of "leadership" comes to mind. Taking a strong position in public - even when that position is unlikely to be popular in some quarters - is an act of both courage and leadership. 

Many threads on this forum discuss the continued weakness of our profession. Often that weakness is attributed to a profound lack of leadership among our members and a widespread avoidance of risk. Taking a public stand on important - and sometimes controversial - issues of public policy requires immense courage because it involves real risk to one's reputation.

You never want to go off half-cocked when making public pronouncements. But, I believe it important for architects to be more visible in this arena. There is a lot we can add to the public discourse in our communities. There is real expertise and value that we can contribute to the conversation. There is a real opportunity to strengthen our collective reputation while also strengthening our communities. To me, this is a hallmark of professionalism.

It's axiomatic that "leaders do the right things / managers do things right". You have to ask yourself which sort of professional you want to be.

Larchinect - I commend your efforts to participate in this manner.

t a m m u z
Aug 30, 14 3:05 pm

Larchinect,

then either you write under cover (and suffer anonymity) or you write in your name (and suffer infamy) or you don't write (and suffer). your position, your concern, is interesting.

i also would suggest that the style of writing makes a big difference. its all too easy for someone anonymous to plod down with an overt attacking position. and it might be fine for someone not anonymous to do that if controversy suits their personality (it is also about how the character is able to bear controversy - some thrive on it, most don't). There are also ways of leading somewhere without explicitly stating your opinion, no? That might itself be an interesting way of writing; if you know the mind of your opponent, you know how to approach it, now to avoid using catchphrases and words that set of alarms. You both share a generic common end: making things better, although of course you may be diametrically opposed in terms of what that precisely is. everyone does something to make things better, they marry but they also make war...to make things better. such drastic differences. it depends on whether you want to declare an outright war or introduce a Trojan horse. its again a character thing...but also dependent on different levels of context.

but perhaps you play down those items that signal this opposition, but rather suggest. its difficult just saying this generally but really...writing is not always a simple simplistically expressive undertaking. there is more to writing than to making an argument, and arguments are sort of like a traffic system with its codes, its logic and its logical fallacies. however, writing need not abide just by these directive veins, beyond the streets, you also have fields that don't observe the same rhetorical rules.  

just think to yourself, when you write, that you're not writing against anyone, so its not your side of the debate or an argument - a formula used as much to combat other ideas as to solidify and reify differences. it could be an neutral interview you conduct, or a review of a book, or a description of how it could be and then pose questions (as opposed to state your opinion and incur an equally direct response).

So, maybe its not that you need to think about whether you should write or not (which would not be fair to your natural impulses as you express them here) but rather to think about how you should write. You are not Miles, he will do it his way. Even if you live in the same kind of setup, his background is different, he might be able to stomach the reaction he gets from his overt cynicism (couched, politely, in a book - a book always makes everything it contains within it so much more polite and respectable than it is, Marquis de Sade literature for instance), perhaps even profit from it. He might have wanted the consequences. Would you? So, environmental context is not everything. Your financial and personal context is equally important - that, only you could factor in. No?

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Aug 30, 14 3:21 pm

Courage and leadership notwithstanding, tall poppy syndrome comes to mind.

The good news is that speaking your mind will make you a pariah among people you didn't want anything to do with in the first place.

tint
Aug 30, 14 3:41 pm

Boulder probably was better in the 70's... 

I don't do paid published work but I do think what you say in a publicly viewed format can effect how people view you. I speak from my perspective and certainly discussions on highly controversial subjects is a delicate matter. As career professionals, it is not in our business interests to take political sides so much as to not alienate yourself from your golden goose.

I don't like to take sides on religious controversies between people of different religions because it can not only alienate me from one side but can alienate me from both sides.

With the topic of the Israel-Palistine matters, I don't want to get into that. It gets too problematic. The reason U.S. shouldn't be involved is because its involvement caused enough problems... the U.S. can't possibly make it better and all it would do is cause more terrorists groups to form to cause more innocent Americans to get killed by some terrorist wacko. If our political leaders kept their nose out of other countries matters, September 11th would never have happened. Osama bin Laden would likely have been dead decades ago and he wouldn't have received CIA/special op training and that CIA designed and built base in Afghanistan nor would have got the CIA tip off that saved his life in 2001 and 2002.

Lets be clear, there was enough dirty messes to clean up. We need to get out of the sand box as soon as possible. The issues with Iraq and ISIS... okay. But we need to ultimately get out of Iraq and leave it clear - "We are gone and we will not continue to keep Iraq government alive. It will be up to Iraq to settle its future. We will not commit anymore human or other resources in Iraq." Follow that with a discontinuing our foreign affairs and focus domestically. U.S. put far too much on foreign matters except for matters pertaining to national security such as eminent nuclear threat. That is why we have lasers and rail guns in space and have naval ships and other assets around. We just can't be fixing every countries squabble issues. Otherwise, we should be billing the other nations for costs with right of acquisition of tangible assets. In other words, foreclose on the other countries.

Making point clear that we don't have the resources anymore for doing this.

Regarding writing books or publications, approach and rational sensitivity to not alienate people is necessary if you are a design professional needing clients to keep in business.

You don't gain by angering one group over religious matters or other topics that are controversial or otherwise, people have strong convictions over that people may get bent out of shape over.

file
Aug 30, 14 4:05 pm

Ok, folks - let's not stray too far afield here !

The OP made a clear statement that his inquiry is about  "... participating in public discourse over local issues, mainly via op-eds in the local paper. I get a lot of pleasure from crafting arguments on urban design and planning issues. .... My objectives center around a deep interest in making our community a better place."

Larchinect
Aug 30, 14 4:15 pm

I think you'd have to be a complete fool to write about religion or politics. I'm talking about writing on (mostly) local design and planning issues. Clearly, many architects shy away from writing. I wonder if more of us put the energy we expend on forums like archinect into a morepublic, local forum the design and planning professions might be more valued. Still, Iim not on a crusade to sell the public on the profession, I can only sell my own skills and services--thats not the kind of writing I want to do. I feel quite confident in our offices skill set, so naturally as an entrepreneur I hunt the local papers for opportunity, clues, not rfp's. 

In summary, I believe there is a way to maintain professionalism while contributing expertise. I also agree its probably good for the profession. Whether it is good for business is still up in the air in my mind.

quizzical
Aug 30, 14 5:08 pm

Larchinect: "Whether it is good for business is still up in the air ...."

Name recognition -- unless generated by abusive or clearly uninformed statements -- typically is a good thing when it comes to drumming up new business. 

"People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care."  
Theodore Roosevelt

archanonymous
Sep 1, 14 6:16 pm

Larchinect,

 

I have had several small pieces of architectural criticism published - from 3-700 words usually, and not paying all that great, but appearing in a well-known architecture monthly that most mid-size and up offices receive.  Not only criticism, but  historical research pieces and perspective pieces also. I think it is really rewarding and it serves many purposes.

One of the primary benefits is that looking at buildings with a critical eye and translating that into coherent, relate-able thought is not the same thing, and so it inspires much deeper critique of buildings, including relating them to the larger culture and norms, not just thinking and talking about what is good/ looks good for architects. 

Another advantage is that for one's career, there are few better things you could do. If you are writing crits, you get to sit down with Principals and studio heads on a monthly basis for a 30-45 minute talk. It is an incredible way to make connections and raise your profile. Same thing as when a potential consultant, collaborator, or the local AIA has seen your name 10 times in the past year when considering you for a job, award, commendations, etc...

As far as writing to influence policy or opinion, I do not have much experience there, but I am sure I will pursue those types of writing as I finish up my ARE and gain more responsibility and exposure to the logic underlying those types of decisions.

jla-x
Sep 1, 14 7:21 pm

Don't you think it may help business by attracting like minded clients, which may result in work that is aligned with your values?

gwharton
Sep 1, 14 9:17 pm

I've had articles and poetry published in the past, but never had the time to finish writing a whole book. None of it ever had any effect on my architectural career.

tint
Sep 2, 14 9:07 am

How about a blog? They help to get traffic to you, build cred, and let people know what you value and how you work. 

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