Writing more

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Originally posted on the researchnb blog

  1. Write 200 words a day, no ifs, ands, buts, or other conjunctions.
  2. Print out what you finished yesterday, read it critically, and “revise it up” at least 20%. That means don’t just find the typos and leave it as average work. Go on a hunt. “Bird dog it”, as we say in the South. Look for opportunities to make it better.
  3. Share small sections of your work — 2-5 pages or less — with a friendly critic. Don’t wait until you have 40 pages and ask someone “to spare a few minutes” to give you some feedback.
  4. Update/revise your paper’s outline; if you don’t have one, make one, or go adopt a dog (OK, we like dogs in the South). Seriously. Silvia says writers who don’t outline “should drive to the local animal shelter and adopt a dog, on that will love them despite their self-defeating and irrational habits” (p. 106).
  5. Create a writing/editing to do list for the week. Cross off something every day.
  6. Update your references and citations; review a couple of other bibliography, reference and reading lists to see where the holes are in your sources.
  7. Beef up your arguments. Brainstorm and outline another article, a review article, critique, letter to the editor, conference proposal, etc. Always have more than one writing project simmering for when you get bored with the one you are working on now, which happens sooner or later. Writers have love-hate relationships with their topics, no matter how much of their lives they have invested in them.
  8. But, don’t plan that victory lap just yet. Some of these tips require a lot of work, and you may miss a few days of “200 words a day” at first. You need to work up to this level of writing discipline. If you miss days or self imposed deadlines, do not beat yourself up. Reconsider, regroup, and set some more attainable intermediate goals. Over time you will build your writing stamina and eventually you will be able to “write a lot” every day.
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