Kyle’sTips for July: Writing Habits
News Article by Kyle Trenshaw, PhD, Educational Development Specialist for STEM at University of Rochester
- Changing your habits can be really difficult, considering research says that it can take weeks of consistent practice to form a new habit. If you are having trouble getting to bed on time, scheduling a block of writing each weekend, or accomplishing any other kind of habitual task, consider using an app or even pen-and-paper tracking to keep you accountable and make your progress visible to you. One of my favorite examples is Habitica.com, which gamifies the habit-forming process and provides a fun interface to keep track of completing your tasks and deadlines.
- Sometimes just thinking about having to write something like a 100-page review article, dissertation, or book can make the task seem impossible. Instead of considering a long manuscript as a single task, break the writing process down into more manageable chunks and approach each one-at-a-time. For example, begin by selecting a journal and researching their formatting requirements, writing the methods portion (because you already did it, so it probably will not change much as you edit), or annotating a couple relevant articles you would like to eventually cite. Each of these tasks gets you one step closer to your goal without having to write 5000 words in a day to feel accomplished.
- One of the biggest myths about writing is that it must all take place in one large chunk, or you aren't doing it properly. Very few of us have six or eight hours in one day to just sit down and write. Instead, choose a brief time each day when you generally are not busy, maybe the 15 minutes immediately after you eat breakfast or while you wait for a load of laundry to finish, and just write. Even if you just stare at a screen or a piece of paper for 15 minutes, count it as having done your writing for the day. If you complete an entire week of 15-minute writing sessions, consider increasing the time to 30 minutes or more if it is working well for you. Total the number of words you've written at the end of each week, and you will be surprised the difference 15 minutes can make. Even if it is only a couple dozen words, that a sentence you did not have the week before!
If you’d like to learn more from Kyle about Writing Habits and Teaching Strategies, consider joining Page-Turners for Teaching, a new bi-weekly discussion group for grad students, medical students, postdocs, and residents interested in exploring their teaching practice with like-minded colleagues!
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