Most people who know my schedule know that I wake up at the ungodly hour of 4:00am to write on an everyday basis (I was doing 4:45am for a while but then I realized I needed the additional 45 minutes as a buffer, so now I start anywhere between 4:00 and 4:45am). I also follow a lot of people who regularly write on academic writing (my research blog is focused on everything, including my own research agenda, even though I do write about academic life in general). While having a conversation with Jo Van Every and Theresa MacPhail on Twitter, we discussed writing every day of the work week.
This makes sense, although I will admit I often write every single day of the week, not only the 5 days of the work week (I’m trying to go back to just every day of the work week). This happens often when my schedule is derailed by academic conferences, when I travel to give a seminar or workshop, or when I am doing fieldwork (although some people could argue that writing field notes is, in fact, academic writing and should be included in the 2 hours every day).
To avoid self-loathing and punishing myself, I set a weekly goal of 10 hours a week of writing, or 20 blocks of 30 minutes every week. This makes writing a manageable task, because I always do have 30 minutes to write when I am at an airport waiting for a flight, or when I travel by bus, or when I’m on the plane. I also have 30 minutes to write in between meetings with students or colleagues. Most people who write about academic writing will in fact recommend using the Pomodoro technique of writing for 25 minutes and resting for 5 (you can see Inger Weiburn’s post on just Shut Up and Write).
The thing is, I write every day because I follow what Rachael Cayley suggests: writing as a self-reflective process. I write to clarify what the hell I’m thinking. And most of the time, my thinking is refined by putting it into words. I also should note that I follow the advice of Tanya Golash-Boza on 10 ways in which you can write every day. I don’t necessarily TYPE for 2 hours (if I could, I would, but I can’t just vomit words that way). I rearrange drafts, rewrite text, etc. Because writing isn’t easy, as Pat Thomson very aptly indicates. I write every day because if I don’t, I lose practice and my writing becomes unwieldy. Pat’s post suggests that we need to write as practice.
It’s like a muscle: you use it or you lose it.
Whether you write as a binge-writer (e.g. in long spurts) or on a daily basis, you do need the focus to accomplish your goals. And maybe the motivation. So hopefully you will also be willing to join #GetYourManuscriptOut.