Silvia, Paul J. How To Write A Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. APA: Washington, DC, 2002.

“Specious” barriers to writing: “I can’t find time to write,” “I need to read a few more articles,” “To write a lot, I need a new computer,” “I’m waiting until I feel like it” (pp. 11-23)

The only way to write a lot is to set a writing schedule and to stick with it, treating it as necessary as you would other parts of academic work—teaching, teaching prep, meetings, etc. Do not schedule other things during your writing time; protect it.

Silvia quotes studies that people who wrote according to a schedule, on average wrote 3 pages more a day than binge writers and had more creative moments (p. 25)

Setting good goals:

  1. Devote a writing session to developing and clarifying your writing goals (once a month or so)
  2. List your project goals—these are the individual projects that need to be written. You might want to post this list somewhere visible so you can cross them off when you’re done.
  3. Set a concrete goal for each day of writing.

Some examples of daily goals Silvia gives:

    • Write at least 200 words
    • Print the first draft I finished yesterday, read it, and revise it.
    • Make a new list of project goals and writing them down on my white board
    • Write the first three paragraphs of the general discussion
    • Add missing references and then reconcile the citations and references
    • Reread chapters 22 and 24 from Zinsser to recharge my writing batteries
    • Finish the “Setting Goals” section that I started yesterday
    • Brainstorm and then make an outline for a new manuscript
    • Reread the reviewers’ comments of my paper and make a list of things to change.
    • Correct the page proofs and mail them back. (p. 32)

Keeping track of writing progress also helps motivate the writing process. When you meet a goal or finish a project, reward yourself with something like a good cup of coffee or a nice lunch. But do not reward yourself by skipping writing time. This will lead no where good.