At this point in the semester, I am surrounded by individuals trying to ride out the wave of work that surges through a semester. The most important task is the one that is due next, and those long term projects are put off until it is too close to really give them the time they deserve. For example, learning science and doing science are important, but so is communicating it. Between courses, exams, teaching, lab work, mentoring, family and other commitments, how do grad students find time for writing? One of my greatest struggles is determining where in the “To do” list to prioritize this long term task.
While it may seem like this is something that would come at the end of a large study or after a great deal of research/reading, I recently read a book that convinced me otherwise. The book, How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silva, is a fast read that discusses how to be successful in writing more consistently and productively. There are some specific tips about writing articles v books, but the main points are
- Set aside time dedicated to writing and all of its associated tasks
- Commit to and defend this time
To learn more about the author’s suggestions, I suggest borrowing the book from the library or purchasing it. This book has totally changed my perspective on writing. While I understand that writing and preparing presentations of my work is just as important as reading background information and working in the lab, I have not been dividing my time accordingly. Now, I am taking the authors suggestion and planning a few hours every week, on my calendar, just for writing.
So far this strategy has allowed me to more efficiently organize my thoughts and make progress writing emails, blog posts and my dissertation proposal. I know that writing is viewed differently between humanities and sciences, but this point is relevant for any field. So, I am eager for others to comment on their own trials and successes with writing productively.
What do you do to prioritize writing?