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Breaking Down Barriers to Publishing
A cross-post from Thought to Action
Two weeks ago, Maj Brigid Hickman published “Praise for “The Harding Project” & Breaking Down Barriers to Publishing” at Thought to Action. Her article explains why they created their own professional writing outlet to “help young leaders succeed where we have failed”, provides lessons learned from their two years of publication, and concludes with recommendations for the Harding Project.
Why Thought to Action
We launched T2A in May 2021 for many of the same reasons, believing that our branch journals had grown stale and had ceded widespread readership to newer (and in many cases, more relevant) platforms like MWI, From the Green Notebook, and Strategy Bridge. While most of our authors had published in these journals and others, we felt a gap existed across the military writing enterprise that necessitated the creation of a new platform. The rapid rise in popularity of the aforementioned journals often resulted in more submissions than the editorial staffs could respond to, review, and publish in a timely manner. And while any author aspires to obtain wide readership for his or her article, our goal has never been to write “click bait” pieces that merely meet the present moment’s appetite and then give way to the next day’s news cycle. We wanted to establish a new forum for diverse ideas presented in a professional manner, edited and vetted by peers, and exempt from the bureaucratic norms that seem commonplace at other outlets.
Over the past two years, we have adapted these systems to better reflect the reality of our schedules. We originally published one article per week but quickly found that pace unsustainable with a volunteer team working full time jobs. We scaled back to publishing once every two weeks, adjusting dates around federal holidays and building in more cushion time for editing. While room for improvement certainly still exists, we are proud to still be “in business” for over two years, enduring through multiple permanent change of station cycles, deployments, births of children, and other competing priorities.
Recommendations for the Harding Project
As the Harding Project works to bring both print and media publications into the 21st century, it should encourage these outlets to expand their editorial staffs and establish tiered publication thresholds to encourage more first-time writers to contribute. Our non-commissioned officers, warrant officers, and cadets possess their own ideas and perspectives on the future of warfighting but are not as frequently published in major outlets. Mentors need to encourage these populations to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to truly generate the grassroots revival that GEN George, GEN Brito, and SMA Weimer envision. GEN George’s monthly CSA writing award is a good start, and commanders and echelon would be wise to similarly reward their subordinates for publishing.
Big thanks to Brigid and the team for their contributions to professional writing—and these insights as we work to renew professional writing. Support Thought to Action by subscribing or follow them on social media at X, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.