Six Writing Productivity Tips from Academics

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Feeling envious of the academic writer? What’s not to like about a tenure? Don’t even mention the summer breaks and the cozy office in a beautiful campus with ivy-covered brick buildings and sprawling lawns.  Now that it’s out of your system, it’s time to pick up some tips from academics on how to boost your writing productivity.

“Whilst every academic had developed a system personal to them, we found there were six common habits that the most prolific (and generally less stressed) academics tended to use,” said Chris Smith in article published on the London School of Economics and Political Science’s blog.

Smith interviewed 23 scholars from Europe and the U.S. as part of a research for Prolifiko, a digital coaching tool for writers. The interviewees’ professional experience ranged from six months to 27 years. Their fields were social sciences, economics, business, and arts.

6 Writing Habits

These are excerpts from Smith’s list:

  1. Schedule time blocks for writing: The length or method of blocking time didn’t appear to matter as much as the fact that the academic planned to write and prepared mentally for the task.
  2. Set a writing deadline for yourself: The academics acknowledged that their productivity slipped without a deadline.
  3. Find your “flow”: Prolific academics arrange their lives to encourage a “flow” of productivity or momentum. They also don’t push themselves too hard.
  4. Find a writing partner or group for accountability: The academics found collaborative work with colleagues to be effective, including exchange of drafts and agreeing to word counts and deadlines.
  5. Break a big writing project into small parts: Productive academics structure their work in a way that helps them avoid feeling overwhelmed, such as looking at a manuscript chapter by chapter.
  6. Write your way out of a block: The academics call it “free writing,” a method of writing without editing to get out of the rut.
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