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How to Write A Lot (Paul Silvia) – my reading notes

As I’ve said repeatedly in my other blog posts with reading notes of academic writing books, it’s only been since early this year that I started reading books about academic writing. Not even during my PhD did I read a book that would help me write more or less, or better (or worse, as the case may be!)

#AcWri at the SFO airport

Nevertheless, given the way in which many readers of my blog use it, I decided to read more books about academic writing to see if there was anything that I could contribute to the genre (I am writing a book, myself, on academic life, writing, literature reviews, reading strategies, time management, organization, and surviving academia without selling my soul to the Devil – but that’s something that I’ll discuss another time). Also, I am hopeful my reading notes can help readers decide which books to read and use.

In the past month, I’ve bought five or so books on academic writing. Two of them came very well recommended, specifically Zinsser’s On Writing Well and Paul Silvia’s How To Write A Lot. I picked up Silvia’s book first and then ordered his second one, Write It Up.

Paul Silvia is an associate professor of psychology, and someone whose writing sounds youthful. His prose is agile and easy to read, and I found myself enthralled with trying to finish the damn book and thinking to myself “yes, yes, absolutely yes, of course, damn I already have said this on my blog and in my tweets for like, forever and ever“.

I’m definitely not the only one who loved it (Silvia has two books, and as you’ll find out from my reading notes from the other book, I didn’t love it as much as this one). “How To Write A Lot” provides numerous good, actionable and practical tips on how to crank words out.

I think what I loved most about this book was that it was (a) inexpensive (b) pragmatic (c) written from the viewpoint of someone who is an academic who writes a lot. I don’t write about #AcWri because I *study* #AcWri, but because I write a lot, and in a very broad range of fields. I also use my writing tips for my own PhD and Masters and undergraduate students, and to help my colleagues.

I have also read Silvia’s Write It Up, and as my tweet mentions, I think the latter volume (and possibly this one) are best read with the help and guidance of a mentor (like a PhD advisor, for example).

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