In my WMST colloquium last semester, we were given the assignment of writing every day for a week, and then every day for a month. In regards to actually writing everyday, I failed at both assignments, however I think they were a success insofar as they emphasised to me how much I can get done when I try and force myself to write frequently. (Fortunately this is not a graded class, so I did not fail grade wise; the professor’s priority was that we would test out different writing strategies). Furthermore, through this assignment I was introduced to this blog, Get a Life, PhD, by Tanya Golash-Boza, which has great advice to academics and writers in general about how to be productive and have a life too! Below are three of my favorite blog posts from her blog:
Ten Ways You Can Write Every Day: This is the post that my professor gave to us to read before we began our writing assignment. Tanya Golash-Boza points out that writing every day does not mean always creating from scratch, writing on a blank page. There are many other ways to be productive and work on your writing, such as editing, planning new work, making outlines, free-writes. The important thing is to set time aside each day to work!
How to Concentrate on Your Writing: I found this post to be particularly important this past semester as I was dealing with a lot of emotional upheaval in my personal life, and found it hard sometimes to concentrate on my work. This blog entry gives advice for dealing with small annoyances, as well as the bigger personal problems, pointing out the importance of being proactive, rather than worrying, and the importance of prioritizing–is this something minor that I can set aside? or do I need to deal with this before I can write? Is this a short-term problem, or a long-term one? She points out that it is important to take care of ourselves and deal with our emotions.
Being a writer, means writing. It is a lot of hard work. As Golath-Boza explains, being a good writer is not about how you look, or how big your vocabulary is, or whether you even enjoy writing. Rather, “To be a great writer, you have to write often, persevere through hard times, withstand rejection, revise consistently, and keep on writing.” (Her post reminded me of Jake Meyer’s post here on The Afterword, Why Having a Beard Doesn’t Make You a Good Writer.)
These are just a few of the great posts on Get A Life, PhD. You should check the rest out too! I am hoping to put into practice some of her ideas, such as writing regularly, doing timed-writes, and creating a semester plan. Although the blog is targeted at academic writing and how to be a successful phd student/tenure-track professor, I think that her ideas are applicable to all sorts of writing. Obviously, everyone has their own way of working, and these strategies might not work for everyone, nor be feasible. For example, professors who have a heavy teaching load may find it harder to find time to write. Some people prefer to work in spurts. It is hard to be disciplined enough to write regularly, but when I have done it, I have found it beneficial. Actually, I do usually write everyday, especially now that I have made a deal to write in my journal every night. (Even if it is just sentence or two). However, I need to get better at other types of writing, like finishing poetry and most importantly for the next semester, my research!
How about the rest of you? What are some of your strategies to writing? Do you write every-day? Also, do you have any writing blog recommendations?