Got writer’s block?

How to write a lot cover
Cover for How to Write a Lot

How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silvia, PhD

Don’t let the stated purpose of this book scare you off: Although it’s “A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing,” all writers, including you, need to follow his advice, especially to schedule writing time and be very disciplined about writing during that time.

Silvia suggests that you don’t need to unleash your “inner writer”; instead, “Writing productively is about actions that you aren’t doing but could easily do: making a schedule, setting clear goals, keeping track of your work, rewarding yourself, and building good habits. Productive writers don’t have special gifts or special traits–they just spend more time writing and use this time more efficiently” (pp. 3-4).

Chapter 2 debunks “Specious Barriers to Writing a Lot.” I’ve summarized these self-defeating excuses here, and I’m sure that you, like I, recognize myself in these excuses:

  1. I can’t find time to write.
  2. I need to do some more analysis first.
  3. I need a new computer (laser printer, nice chair, better desk).
  4. I write best when I’m inspired to write.

Silvia offers tools to overcome any writers’ barriers: set goals, set priorities, track progress, and form an “agraphia group” (agraphia means loss of the ability to write). This sounds a lot like the writing process that I promote in my writing classes.

All these suggestions for academic writing can help corporate and organizational writers: “Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend to them than inspiration” (p. 27).

I hope Silvia’s ideas help you convert your writer’s block into writer’s cramp.

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