You should not be reading this post. You should be writing instead.
“But I am not in writing mode, you say” As a researcher or grad student, you are always in writing mode. Every day is writing day, the only thing that differs is the amount of writing that is needed.
It doesn’t matter if you are writing a thesis, an essay or a research paper, you need to establish a writing quota. Determine how much you should be writing every day and then stick to that figure.
What are you waiting for? Start writing. Right Now! Over the course of my PhD, one of the most challenging tasks on a weekly basis was finding the right level of consistent writing. Whereas certain weeks, I was able to deliver a lot of written material, during certain other weeks, well… not as much. I grew to understand how to avoid this inconsistency. The trick is to decide on a specific writing goal, and then STICK TO THAT GOAL, every single working day.
The goal that you set ought to be both challenging as well as achievable. If it’s not challenging, what is the point of setting the goal at all, and if it’s not achievable, well you won’t be able to reach your goal at all.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark” – Michelangelo
Do not start out by insisting that you will write four pages every day since in most cases, you won’t be able to produce that many pages in that short amount of time. What you should do instead is to determine a goal of e.g. between 300-500 words that you will insist on writing ever day (500 words equals roughly 1 page). If you then keep delivering those 500 words on a daily basis, after two weeks time, you will have produced 15 pages. Those pages are obviously roughly written and far from a finished product but it’s a lot easier to edit a scrappy written text than it is to produce a perfectly written text from scratch.
In the beginning, you need to be in “writing mode” and only when you’ve reached a sufficient number of pages can you switch over to “edit mode” where you start focusing more on the syntax, grammar and word choices.
The key take away from this post is: write a little consistently over a long period of time INSTEAD of writing a lot of words during a short period time. Not only will the quality of your text be better, but the quality of your life (with respect to your work-life balance) will also be better.
Leave a comment if you recognize this problem 🙂