Working with academic writers, I encounter a wide variety of approaches to writing. If you can identify the “type” of writer you are, it will be easier to overcome some of the issues that get in the way of your writing projects.
One key: know thyself. And plan accordingly. Embrace the kind of writer that you are–and allow yourself to follow through.
What type are you?
Do you write one page per day? And then the second day you edit that page? Frustrated because it’s the third day before you’re even starting to write the second page? It’s okay! Just plan accordingly. One page ever two days, means you’ll crank out a 20-page paper in 8 weeks. That’s 3 articles a year if you’re only working at that pace half the year!
Don’t get angry at yourself and feel defeated by your “snail’s pace”–then you’ll get in your own way by procrastinating or wasting time feeling bad about yourself instead of proceeding with your natural pace of one page every two days.
Do you write really quickly with lots of outlining and brainstorming making its way onto the page as you draft? Then you can quickly go back and refine what you’ve written, but you wind up with twice the word limit for every article you produce? Frustrated that you have to throw away half the work you sweated over? If that’s how you write and you can crank out 40 pages in two weeks, then cut that back to 20 in two more weeks–go for it! Four weeks is an amazingly fast time frame in which to crank out a paper!
Don’t get frustrated that it’s taking you four weeks instead of two (or eight weeks instead of four)–just know that half your time is drafting and half your time is editing down to the word limit.
Do you write three articles in one? You start a really great article, but it quickly becomes three articles with three theses and three data sets that you’re trying to squeeze into one. Unlike the above “type,” you can’t just write 40 pages and then cut it back by half because then you’re throwing away two of your three articles!
Don’t keep writing! You have to intervene early, identify the one idea you’re going to develop for the current paper, and save the other two for (near) future projects. The key is to identify the three ideas when you only have a few pages written so you don’t have to re-write the whole thing or get an outside reader to do it for you on the back end. Then proceed only when you’ve narrowed your current project down to one topic.
Maybe your writing process is none of the above, but try to step back & discern what your writing process is so that you can devise a realistic task list and timeline and…
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in academic writing, job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. To schedule a campus workshop or for help navigating your career transition, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org