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Academic Coaching & Writing

I. Nurture a Daily Writing Habit

Sep 05, 2012 by Dr Sally

Whether your goal is to write a dissertation, a book, or articles, you must learn the secret of all productive writers: Establish a writing routine. Although it's surprisingly simple, many academic writers have a difficult time doing it, and even more experience difficulty maintaining it.

In the past 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of academic writers. Over and over I have observed that people who are not happy with their writing progress tend to sabotage themselves in these predictable ways:

  1. They don’t write. The number 1 reason academic writers aren’t successful is they simply don’t show up to write. They are too “busy” with other things. They avoid writing or they procrastinate getting started.
  2. They don’t know what to write. The number 2 reason academic writers aren’t productive is because they don’t have specific writing goals. When they do show up to write, they don’t know what to do, so they surf the Internet, find more sources to read, or use their writing time in nonproductive ways.
  3. They don’t follow through. The number 3 reason academic writers aren’t successful is that if they do make a plan, they don’t honor their commitments to themselves.

This blog series is devoted to sharing research and techniques that can help you become a productive writer. The key to success is maintaining a daily writing habit. Here's how simple it is to develop a writing habit to sustain your writing:

  1. Show up every day. Make it a habit to write every day. Don’t assume that you need long and uninterrupted time to write. Those who write an hour a day are far more productive than those who think they need big blocks of time and end up not writing at all.
  2. Develop a plan. Schedule daily writing time on your calendar. Set aside time once a week for goal setting. Make specific goals and break your tasks down into small, manageable “chunks.”
  3. Create accountability. Maintaining a daily writing habit requires a system of accountability—to yourself and others. Self-accountability involves tracking your progress and rewarding yourself when you have completed a task. External accountability provided by a coach or a writing group boosts your chances of success.

To get started, set aside small blocks of time for daily writing. Plan on writing every day for 60 to 90 minutes. Take frequent breaks, and reward yourself with small pleasures when you have completed your writing time.

The remainder of this series will provide tips on how to nurture your daily writing habit, develop a plan, and create systems of accountability to sustain your daily writing. In the weeks ahead you will learn how to:

  • Challenge Common Assumptions against Daily Writing,
  • Overcome Procrastination,
  • Eliminate Writing Distractions,
  • Use a Timer: The Pomodoro Technique,
  • Set SMART Goals,
  • Chunk Your Writing Project into Short Assignments,
  • Track Your Writing Progress, and
  • Establish Systems of Accountability.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How can you create small blocks of time for writing?
  2. How can you create a system to hold yourself accountable for daily writing?



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