Write often!

In the week of the Writing Summer School, one “top tip” for writing is offered.

This week, it’s the University Graduate School Writing Summer School.  There are a lot of exciting workshops planned, covering wide-ranging topics on writing from mapping academic writing, writing for publication, reviewing the literature and doctoral writing groups to editing and proof-reading.  For full details, enrol on the Canvas module.

Writing for research is such a huge topic that it can’t be covered in its entirety in a 2-day summer school, so a blog post is definitely not up to the job.  But in the spirit of the writing summer school, I wanted to share with you my “top tip” for writing.  It’s not particularly original, and has been encapsulated in a thousand clichés, but here it is:

Write often.

It’s easy to say (two words of advice!), but, as is often the case, much harder to put into practice.  Why should you bother?

  • Practice makes perfect.  Cliché alert!  This is pretty obvious, but it’s worth saying – the more you write, the quicker and better you will get at it.  And you’ll get more confident.
  • It’s a habit of productive writers.  Research has shown that writers who write a little bit every day produce more writing, and their writing is more fluent and creative.
  • You’ll never face a blank page.  At the point where you are preparing a journal article manuscript or thesis, you will have plenty of material which already exists.  Your starting point is no longer the dreaded blank page.

Are you convinced?  If so, here are a few ideas for developing the writing habit:

  • Start small.  Don’t put yourself under too much pressure.  20 minutes a day quickly adds up, and you can increase or decrease that as you find what suits you.
  • Try different times/environments.  Try writing in different locations and at different times of day to work out when you’re at your best and what motivates you.  Find a quiet spot in the morning before you arrive on campus.  Go to a café for a creativity high.
  • Vary your writing projects.  Write about your research methods or your latest findings.  Write your reflections on what you learned from a recent development activity (if it’s reading this post – share it in the comments!).  Write an account of your day.  Try free writing.  Write a plan.  Just remember to file everything away safely and clearly indexed so you can find those nuggets later.

How often do you write?  Do any of the comments in this post chime with your experience?  Share your own writing “top tip” in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Write often!”

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Helen Kara

Writing and research

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