Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Write a Lot

Ok, it comes down to this. To be anything like successful with my career. I need to get papers out. And in order to get papers out, I need to write them. I need to put words on the page that people can read. Ok, that seems easy enough. Except that it isn’t. Getting words down has been a real struggle lately. Heck, just communicating has been a struggle lately. I haven’t been talking to people or witting to people, or blogging, or commenting on facebook or on other’s blogs. I start too. But mostly I don’t think what I have to offer is good enough. I hit delete more often than I hit “post” or “send.” I’m not sure what the deal is.

Ok, maybe I do. Part of it is that I am really out of practice when it comes to writing and communicating in general. I’m pretty isolated at work. My office mate is very quiet and I don’t have much in common with him. The lab is often empty, so unless I start talking to my flies (and sometimes I do), there isn’t much opportunity for conversation there either. Most of my conversation at home is with 5 year olds who are articulate for their age, but….

The other problem is low self esteem and a lot of doubt that what I have to offer is valuable. Recent experiences with collaborators, who ignore my suggestions, and journal editors, who ask me to peer-review articles and then ignore my comments, haven’t really helped the situation. I know intellectually that I shouldn’t take it personally, but….

So how do I get past all this a churn out a paper, or five, so that I continue to be employed. Unfortunately, all I really can do is just sit down and write. In fact that’s what the experts suggest. Paul J Silvia, in his book, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, says THE KEY to, writing a lot is to write a lot. Just do it. Schedule time to write every day. And don’t let yourself out of it. You wouldn’t skip a meeting with a co-worker, so don’t skip a meeting with your computer. His advice makes a lot of sense. The more I write, the better I will be at it (practice makes perfect and all that. Plus the more writing I produce the odds that I will like what I write will increase. So that is what I am going to do. Write every day. For 30 minutes every day (or more if the muse is with me). Writing may take the form of blog posts, research manuscripts, grant proposals, or random blathering written for my own benefit.

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