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Academic Coaching & Writing

X. Academic Blogging: Finding Time to Blog

Nov 21, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

“I don’t have time to blog” is a common complaint I hear from people as the reason they don’t blog. Blogging works best when it is seen as complementary to the other writing (and activities) that you do. My blog shifted in content when I went back to teaching. Being back in the classroom gave me new material to write about. I would often rush to a computer after teaching to reflect on what had just happened (good or bad) and what I had learned that day.

I also keep a notebook (ok, piles of post-it notes) of possible, future blog topics. These are ideas I had for topics that I either didn’t have the time to write about, or needed to think about a little longer. I also have a folder on my computer full of half-finished blog posts, waiting to be polished. When I’m stuck, I’ll often go back and finish one, or do a “fragments” post combining a few of them.

In “normal” blogging (especially if you’re trying to grow a business) more is better, but in academic blogging, quality outweighs quantity every time. Don’t kill yourself to keep a three-post-a-week schedule. Better to provide quality content on a less consistent basis than weaker content on a more “productive” schedule. And remember, you can always post conference presentation slides (old ones are the best—clean out your files and put them out to the public!), collect links and share those, or even share a quick post saying you’re busy and here is what you are up to.

Many academics anecdotally say that blogging has, in fact, increased their productivity in all areas of their research, writing, and teaching. By forcing themselves to write down those things that perhaps would have stayed rolling around in their heads, they more quickly deal with issues, solve problems, and have opportunities to receive feedback. And I cannot emphasize enough how supportive a community the academic blogosphere can be.

When I am struggling with an issue, distracted, or frustrated (often all three), I take the time to “blog-it-out.” I basically free write my way through whatever is bothering me to try and work out my issues, proofread for spelling mistakes, and then publish. This helps me get out of my own head while also connecting with people who may be struggling with similar issues. In the process, I end up feeling less alone. Plus, on Twitter and in the comments, I receive advice and support that helps me keep going and work through the tough spots. Even just getting one unsolicited email from a reader thanking me for writing what I did can fuel my productivity for months.

It may be easier to find the time to blog if you recognize that the public writing that you do on your blog represents work that you are probably already doing privately. Setting aside time to blog each day or every other day forces you to work out issues or take a much-needed break from your regular writing. Blogging doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it can be just as productive and important as the rest of the work you do.

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