Week 8- How to become a productive writer?
P: professor S: students
P: Ph.D. students need a variety of skills, but writing skill may be the most important one. How many time did you spend on the literature review?
S: Reading and writing take a pretty long time.
P: I spent almost 5 hours on writing a 2 pages grant proposal from scratch, but 2 hours were spent on Facebook, Twitter, and some websites. The difficulty in starting writing on a blank page is called “Writer’s block”. Do you have the similar experience and how you overcome it?
S: Before I write, I would think in my mind and organize some ideas, it could help me start writing soon.
S: I would start with small paragraphs.
P: Are there any other strategy to fix “Writer’s block”?
S: For me, talking with others could help me to generate ideas and frame my thought.
S: Making an outline takes a lot of time, and it would be modified several times. I would rather write and don’t think too much.
S: As for me, Mindmap is a good tool to help me build a framework for a paper, it can also catalyze my writing.
M: Right. There are many strategies. I want to recommend a book to you in terms of how to improve writing, <How to Write a Lot>. A good practice is writing every day, even only a small paragraph. Back to the “Writer’s block”, the most difficult part is the start, writing on a blank page. To overcome it, I would go to a Starbuck or an unfamiliar place, then start writing. Because it is said that in a new environment, people would become more productive. Another strategy is writing on Sunday evening. Thirdly, just writing. Because writing is an iterated process, thus do not read any literature, just use my own mind to write and revise it over and over again. You can never expect writing a good article from one shot.
S: Sometimes, surfing the internet during writing is not necessarily a bad thing, I can copy-paste a few useful sentences and paragraphs, they can be used in my article and help me create new ideas.
P: Yes. Another book I want to recommend is <To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise >. Writing a lot doesn’t mean write well. For many journals, they have explicit page length limits. In the near future, you would find it’s more difficult to write a concise paper. However. the trend is that shorter papers are more preferred by editors.
P: Non-native speakers pay more attention to the grammars and expressions, which could be an advantage. Another thing is that Fox school provides proofreading, you can use it to polish your papers.
S: Some reviewers criticize the logical flow in my paper, how to improve that aspect?
P: It’s more like a problem of logic and theory.
S: Think about hamburger, your paper has different layers but you should make the transition as smooth as possible.
P: Ture, and remember, always think from a reader’s view.