Time to Write

Many academics have difficulty finding time to write. Yet most of us, including those who are still working for full-time employment, need publications.

So how do we make time to write?

Different things work for different people and, from my own experience, at different times. What worked when I was single was not quite as productive when I was married. What worked when I was just married did not work when I had little ones. Etc.

So, how do we find time to write?

1. Make it a priority.

If writing is not a priority, we will never find time to write. We just won’t. Something else will always crowd it out.

2. Schedule it.

If writing has to be in the middle of the day (either for your clock or your life), then schedule it. Make it every day at 2 p.m. and if you are asked to attend a meeting at that time, say you already have something in your schedule. (Don’t say what it is. “Prior commitment” should be sufficient.)

3. Write something.

Don’t just sit and stare or do research. Write. Write. Write. Even if it is, as I tell my students, the statement “I don’t know what to write about x. I have thought y and z, but …”

ProfHacker had a good article on writing by Erin E. Templeton in the CHE called “The Rule of 200.” Two hundred words a day.

4. Keep writing.

It’s not a sprint; it’s a long distance race. And, if you keep doing it, a turtle who keeps moving will outdistance a hare who stops. Remember that. Take it as a motto.

When one project is done, start on the next. Keep the writing going. Otherwise, it’s just like stopping exercising. Your skills get rusty; you gain bad habits and lose abilities.

Prioritize writing. Schedule writing. Write. Keep writing.

That’s how I recommend finding time to write.

Dr. Crazy also has a recent blog post on what counts as writing.

One thought on “Time to Write”

  1. This is a question near and dear to every academic’s heart over the summer, because it’s when we think we’ll finally get all that writing done that we weren’t able to do over the academic year. One trick that I used to get my most recent paper out of my system was to just write, place where I knew quotes were going to go, and then keep writing, rather than stopping, finding the quotes, getting sidetracked, and thus stalled. It worked fantastically well (you partially read the results).

    I still have yet to develop a good method of remember where all my quotes are located, but I have an excellent memory of what exactly the quote said. So I rely on that, rather than search and search and search. It was nice this summer because my husband and I traded off childcare duties (one of us looked after them in the AM, the other PM), ensuring that we have to use the short time we had as efficiently as possible. And, not feel guilty about doing things like going to the beach with the kids.

    Welcome back. I hope that moving was as “painless” as possible.

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