The Nitty Gritty

  • Margy Thomas, Ph.D. and founder of ScholarShape, supports academics and researchers in telling their stories through what she calls the Story-Argument concept. This tool or strategy, applied to her clients’ work, turns their text into “both a functional machine and a pleasing work of art.”
  • Why Margy’s so passionate about academic writing, plus the reason Margy works with clients across different specialties instead of niching down
  • How Margy turned the “magic” of the way she works into a repeatable process — and how that changed the way she works with her 1:1 clients
  • Why she uses tarot cards to better understand what she already knows and look at things with a new perspective

It’s tempting to think that to do your best work, you have to hunker down in your creative cave, scratch out your brilliant thoughts by the fire, and only emerge once you’ve had your eureka moment.

In fact, I know plenty of thinkers and entrepreneurs who have tried to do exactly that. 

Sometimes it’s a fear of criticism. Other times, it’s a fear of someone stealing the work when it’s not yet complete. 

Often it’s a reaction to the Impostor Complex… feeling like your work isn’t enough—and might never be.

Regardless of the reason why, retreating to the creative cave has killed at least as many good ideas as it has birthed. Today, we’re going to examine a different way of getting to your eureka moment and developing your body of work.

Margy Thomas is the founder of ScholarShape and has worked with hundreds of scholars around the world in their journey of telling their stories as a developmental editor and writing consultant.

Recently, Margy has been working to systematize her coaching and create a framework she can share with more academics crafting books and papers.

I wanted to have Margy on the show to share what she calls the co-construction of knowledge and meaning. Margy has been sharing the bones of her coaching framework—the Story-Argument Model—with her audience little by little as she develops it.

Together with her audience, she’s defining the work and improving on it.

Instead of waiting for her eureka moment, she’s utilizing her creative process in dialogue with the people who need her work most.

Margy and I chat about the personal growth process that comes along with sharing your work publicly, how her work is evolving because of the way people interact with it, and the way she came to terms with the idea of an MVP—or minimum viable product.

And if you’re interested in the Story-Argument strategy and how you might be able to apply that to your writing, be sure to check out Margy’s free 7-day writing course for knowledge builders.

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From magic to process

“When I’m working with scholars one-on-one, I’m not giving them information or ideas or advice. I’m holding space for them to help them to develop their ideas and their thoughts. I’m providing scaffolding and structure to that process.” — Margy Thomas

Margy’s clients often told her that she was magic. After hearing this over and over again from her clients, Margy decided to deep dive into what this meant. She looked both at her innate personality traits and how those showed up in her work. In addition to that, she also looked at the actual process.

What she found? Not magic, but instead a repeatable pattern that wove within every client project Margy worked on. In her research, she found the Story-Argument model, which is exactly what it sounds like: it helps her clients tell a story while also advancing their argument. “I’m not making the story argument model,” she says. “I’m synthesizing it based on this conversation that a lot of people are involved in.”

The benefits of this strategy are that she’s able to use this to improve her clients’ writing process while ensuring compelling communication around their research. “It transformed my one-on-one work with my clients,” she adds, “because now I’m always thinking about how this relates to the big picture and larger model. They inform each other: the emerging model informs my work with clients and the one on one work informs the emerging model.”

Growing yourself to grow your business

“When you have to think on your feet, absorb feedback in real time, and make lots of decisions in public, you can’t necessarily make every decision on your own time. You have to trust yourself in a certain way.”  — Margy Thomas

To grow our businesses, sometimes we need to challenge and develop ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Part of the quest to becoming a leader within our own lives is connecting with our values, our mission, and intuition.

More recently, Margy learned about tarot as a tool for growing personally and professionally. “I realized that people used tarot to look at situations with a new perspective,” she says, “and figuring out what you already know about a question that you already have.” In the episode, Margy details where she worked with a tarot spread to tease out a solution to a specific writing challenge.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Margy Thomas on how she weaves the Story-Argument model into her process, why she’s so passionate about academic writing, and more on how she works on herself personally to advance professionally.

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