Setting Yourself Up for Writing Success! – Anwesha’s Advice

1) Create a Routine Around Your Writing

Writing every day is a habit that can be reinforced by developing a routine around your writing. Write at the same time every day and set aside that time exclusively for that purpose (e.g. mornings 8-11 a.m.). Once established, protect that time from other projects and chores. Ease yourself into writing by developing a routine around it. For example, I listen to the same music and drink a cup of coffee before I start. Once I begin, I do not check my email or social media in order to minimize distractions. The idea is that you will develop enough associations between these actions and your writing such that when you start your routine, it automatically puts you in the headspace to begin writing.

2) Create a Structure that Helps You Think

Different people think and learn in different ways. Some of us are visual, others are more aural. Find out what works for you and develop strategies that help and maximize your thinking process. For example, if you like to see all your thoughts laid out in front of you, you could create a physical word cloud by writing down your ideas/concepts on post-it notes and sticking them to your wall. Not only do you now have all your ideas laid out simultaneously in front of you, you can also move them around in order to help your thinking process. If you do better with aural methods, try recording yourself as you ask and answer questions about your work, or even just informally talk about your project. Both the process of talking it out and going back to listen to the recording will help make your ideas more concrete and develop them further.

3) There are No Bad Ideas! Free-writing

Ideas do not have to be perfect when they go on paper. In fact, free-writing is one of the best ways to get your thoughts flowing when you feel stuck. Just open a new document and write down whatever comes to your mind in relation to your topic for 10-30 minutes. This writing does not have to be done in grammatically correct or even whole sentences. The only rule is that you can’t stop writing within this time period. This is so that you don’t begin to second guess yourself all over again. The point of free-writing is not to generate a well-written, coherent argument, but to just put down your ideas on paper without worrying about how “good” they are. Free-writing helps take the pressure off when you feel like you have no ideas or that you aren’t being able to express yourself well. In addition, it can spark new ideas when you re-read them a few days/weeks later (Always save your free-writes!).

4) There are No Bad Ideas! A Dump Doc

Have a separate document that you use to record ideas/concepts etc. that have occurred to you or that you’ve come across while writing but will not include in your current piece. This is especially useful while writing a dissertation. Create a doc like this for every chapter so that you can drop a link, a quote, or a random thought into it. You will soon have a storehouse of useful material that you can re-read and draw on for later work.

Use Your Tools – Adam’s Advice

The Writer’s Diet Can Help You See Patterns in Your Writing in Word!

The Writer’s Diet is an automatic feedback app for Microsoft Word developed by Helen Sword based on her writing manual of the same name. This app gives diagnostic feedback on your writing in five categories: the use of be-verbs, zombie nouns (a.k.a. nominalizations, which are abstract nouns created from other parts of speech), prepositions, ad-words (selected “academic adjectives” and adverbs), and demonstratives such as it, this, that and there. For a more detailed explanation of each category, please see the app’s website.

The app can be downloaded for free from the website below. The website also allows you to directly input text to run the diagnostic online. Once the app has been downloaded, it will appear in the toolbar of Microsoft Word. By clicking on the icon, the app will perform a diagnostic scan of a section of your work and color code the section in terms of the previously mention five categories and give a rating for each category. This scan will appear in a box on the right side of your screen and you can use the arrow buttons to move between sections of your paper. This scan will allow you to identify possible areas for improvement in your writing. The goal of using the app is not for you to delete all your uses of these kinds of words and phrases but instead to bring your attention to the ways you use the highlighted words.


Writers Diet | An automated writing feedback tool, app and book by Helen Sword