How do you write?

As if the inter-web isn’t full enough of posts about academics agonising over how to write (as though there is a magic formula), I am going to add to the pile. Lately, I have been agonising over how to juggle multiple writing projects and completing each of them to a satisfactory standard. This is no mean feat when you have a tendency to want everything to be perfect. A site that I have found rather helpful lately is this one, particularly the author’s advice on how to revise and resubmit a paper. http://getalifephd.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-respond-to-revise-and-resubmit.html

Twitter seems to be alive with similar schemes as advocated by the blog above … the egg-timer method. Set yourself 45 mins to write and see how you get on. Switching off all distractions, such as Twitter, Facebook, the INTERNET fullstop! One particular scheme is the #sciwrite challenge launched here: http://all-geo.org/highlyallochthonous/2011/10/a-writing-challenge/ which follows on from the earlier challenge in 2006 from: http://fumbling-towards-geekdom.blogspot.com/2006/10/inadwrimo.html

Let me introduce: International Dissertation Writing Month (InaDWriMo— Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?) I know, we’re supposedly writing our dissertations every month. To which I say (oh-so-articulately), yeah yeah, whatever. You might. I spend most months surfing the internet and playing solitaire.** But November will be different.

The rules:

  1. You can set your own goal for the number of words to write. 50 000 is fine for stuff you can just make up, but a dissertation is generally slower going. I’m going to aim for 45 000 words, because I’m pretty much at the making-shit-up stage of my thesis.
  2. It’s up to you whether you choose to count revisions towards your goal or not. I intend to count paragraphs that I substantially rewrite (i.e. if I change the structure of multiple sentences) but not if I just fix grammar or spelling errors.
  3. You are allowed to work on your dissertation before November, and in the months following November too. No, really. It’s positively encouraged. But you can only count the words you actually write in November.
  4. You post some indication of progress on your blog: a daily word count, a progressmeter, whatever. I want to keep tabs on you :)
  5. You ‘register’ in the comments to this post. I want to encourage community spirit keep tabs on you :)

So am I on my own, or am I on my own?

It appears we like challenges and with the proliferation of academic Twitter accounts we thrive as social beings, so mixing the two to keep tabs on our progress is ideal – if it works don’t knock it. I am going to begin with the following challenge:

1) Tidy my desk

2) List my writing projects

3) Prioritise them

Do you know what? Scrap that. I am going to chuck it all on the floor file it all away neatly, turn off Twitter and start writing. :-)

One thought on “How do you write?

  1. It helps to have a plan before you begin writing. Some use a storyboard idea or you can decide what your main points are, then sort your information, quotes, etc as they fit in to support your main points. Once you get the middle done you just need the introduction to start things off and the conclusion at the end.

    A good idea to finish it then put it aside for a day or a couple of hours (go out for a walk). Come back to it with a fresh mind and read it through, see if it still makes sense and gets your points across. Reading it out loud is good too.

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