In working on my research and dissertation proposal, I have been spending time with literature and #SummerReading. My #SummerReading book stack contains some theoretical works, #acwri support books, #phdchat guides, instructional design tips, and using the social web better for training, learning and development. [There are others, but they are loaded on my Kindle – more to come soon!]
Part of my summer away from course work is also dedicated beyond just reading, and is also focusing on my academic writing (#acwri). This turns my attention to the next book on my stack I’m currently reading = How to Write a Lot by Dr. Paul J. Silvia.
With travel time and holidays, there is plenty of time to both read and write. It’s nice to be away from the daily grind. This time away from the office and regular routine provides space for me to think about ideas and write. Since I finished this book, and I am motivated to write – I thought I might share it with other academic researchers who may need a little puss for their own writing practice.
I would agree with the author who defined this short text as “a practical guide to productive academic writing.” Dr. Silvia shares specious barriers to writing, and a few motivational tools to avoid “writer’s block” – which he thinks is bunk for most academic writers. There are a number of other hints and strategies shared for becoming a regular writer in graduate school and beyond in terms of writing style, manuscript submissions, and managing editorial responses. I also appreciated the helpful suggestions on how to create habitual writing practices for different types of projects, such as grants, books, journal articles, etc. The most helpful section in this sort read that might be useful for graduate students or junior faculty is the section on developing an agraphia group to keep you motivated and on track. Here are the five components suggested by Dr. Paul Silvia for a successful agraphia group for those of you who might need constructive source of social pressure to write:
- Set concrete short-term goals and monitor the group’s progress – proximal goal setting
- Stick to writing goals, not other professional goals – it’s not about professional development or reading about writing
- Big carrots can double as sticks – have informal social rewards for good habits; intervention required for those who are not meeting writing goals; check and balance for writing
- Have different groups for faculty and students – each group will have different writing priorities (see Chapter #3) and different writing struggles
- [Optional] Drink coffee – or tea, smoothies, etc. Meeting outside the department or office can be a good thing for this writing group.
Silvia, P.J. (2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive writing. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.