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April 19, 2007


steven bell

I don't think there are any easy answers - it's mainly put in the time. BUT two things have perhaps helped me: (1) be as organized as possible and (2) develop a writing regimen. (1)The better organized you keep the work and personal life, the less time you spend trying to find things or figure out situations. What's the outcome of wasting less time - you have more time to work on projects like books. (2)I wrote my dissertation while working full time, teaching and still writing an article here and there (this is 96-97). I only got through it by commiting to writing an hour a day - even if it wasn't that great - just getting something out - and then worry about editing later. That's basically how I got through the latest book project - just commiting to writing at least an hour a day - and then one day each weekend putting in about 4-5 hours. One of the things I hear most frequently is "I don't write or present because I don't have time" - and I really wonder what those folks are spending their time on. I suspect they have decided not to make the commitment you need to make to get the writing done. I think it also helps to just be writing frequently. So I find it helpful to keep the blog posts up - and have an article project going - which also help me from getting bored just working on the book project. I find the other writing is also an incentive - I won't work on my article unless I write three pages of the book - or something like that. So get organized and get your writing regimen in shape.

Lisa Hinchliffe

I found the most useful thing when I wrote my book was to write first thing in the day. For me, that meant I would write 7am-9:30ish. Then go in to work. I could stay late at work easier than I could come home from work and write in the evening.

Michael Stephens

I use all sorts of motivators and organizing tricks - many in the tradition of David Allen's "Getting Things Done." I have a folder fetsh - everything goes in folders either on my work drive digitally or paper in folders. I try my best to plan chunks of writing and tweaking presentation time. I also totally unplug often -- clearing my brain as much as possible.

Steven - you have inspired me..I have been looking for a good dissertation plan now that I am looking at the two final chapters.

I just outlined my next Library Tech Report today because I can work on that here and there as a breather from the big writing.

And I love having editors!

Michael Stephens

And an editor would not let two "looking" s be in the same sentence!


As other comments make clear, I think, we all have different approaches. I use "diversion procrastination" when I have lots of projects--working on A to put off working on B--and made that work in this case. Otherwise, I think I'd refer you to A Lazy Man's Guide to Productivity, a piece I wrote a while back.

As to the "book part" of this book: I deliberately put off deciding whether it would ever turn into a book until I was 2/3 of the way done.

Sigh. I appreciate editors too, but am largely doing without them these days.


I agree with Lisa above. Do it in the morning before work. That always helps. Your mind is more clear.



Peter Godwin

Sympathise with this : I'm getting more and more presentations on Web 2.0 to give, want to edit a book, get requests to fill in questionnaires etc etc and have still to do a full-time job. Its true, though, that first thing in the morning is great for writing: that's what I've been doing the last two hours and its much better than late at night! Trouble is, many of us have other lives : I try to be a musician and the only time I can guaranee to practice the piano is early morning round about 6.30 (when my wife is asleep..) so the writing thing wouldnt work for me regularly! I've taken note of Steven Bell's hour a day though - just got to find it and be disciplined!


You might also want to check out the academic coach blog. She coaches folks trying to get through their dissertation & has some interesting ideas about writing and time management. Good luck!!

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