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Lateral Writing: A strategy to fight “writer’s block”

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a technique to help me get words out, particularly as I have 2 revise-and-resubmit papers, 3 book chapters that are due, and I’m writing 3 books, two of them with firm deadlines. I noticed that when I am really stressed, no matter how hard I try, and how many of my own strategies to “get my writing unstuck” or “prompts to get me writing” I use, I end up still blocked. The last technique I’ve been experimenting with is what I call “Lateral Writing“.

Radisson Paraiso (Perisur, CDMX)

Lateral Writing refers to that text-generation that is not focused The Main Thing You Need To Get Out ASAP, but that will help you move your research forward. For example, I have an R&R that is due towards the end of the first week of October. Ideally, I’d be able to write JUST THAT ONE PAPER. I’d already have the response to reviewers, letter to the editor, new version of the paper, etc. all ready to go.

Well, I’m getting there and I have drafts of all of these but I’m not totally finished. BUT I’ve managed to write more than 4,000 words of another paper that is also due toward the end of October, and about 5,000 words of one of my books (the one with the closest deadline), and bits and pieces of other R&Rs. This is why I often try to work with a MEPFED model (Move Every Paper Forward Every Day).

Library Cubicles at El Colegio de Mexico

Doing Lateral Writing (for example, writing on bottled water or on human right to water while I have to finish a paper on waste pickers) has enabled me to still move forward both with The Revise-And-Resubmit Revised Paper That Needs To Be Submitted At The End of the First Week of October, but also with other stuff that I also must finish, including my tenure process documents. Hopefully the notion of Lateral Writing will be useful to my readers too!

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