How to Start a Daily Academic Writing Habit from Scratch

One of my mentees put it better than I could have:

Writing an academic book is really no different from any other project. It’s just about sitting down and putting in consistent work.

In Professors as Writers (ebook), Robert Boice concludes that the single best thing faculty can do to boost their output is to establish a regular writing habit. 

His results are astonishing: faculty who wrote in small, regular amounts (even just 30 minutes per day) produced over three times as many pages as those who only wrote when they felt like it. They also had twice as many creative ideas as those who wrote only when they felt motivated. 

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How to Use Google Forms to Track Your Writing Sessions

In previous posts, I’ve shown you how I use Excel to track my own writing sessions, and discussed why opening and closing routines are crucial to sustained writing. In this post, I put all three pieces together by showing you how to make an “opening routine” Google Form you will use to check in to each writing session, a “closing routine” Google Form you will use to check out, and a tracking spreadsheet that automatically calculates what you’ve done.

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Finding the Time to Write Your Academic Book with a Young Child [A Guest Post]

Many first-time academic book authors, but especially parents of young children, struggle with finding time to write their book.

I frequently receive questions like these:

I’m starting my second year on the TT as the parent of a now one year old. I spent all last year in survival mode between the sleep exhaustion that comes with a newborn, barely keeping my head above water with new course prep, and getting used to my new institution and department.

I know I need to make progress on my book this year for tenure, but I don’t know how I can make it work. How can I find time to write my book while parenting a young child?

So, I turned to a mentee who’s been through this struggle herself. Here is her guest post, including her top 5 tips for finding time to write your first book as a new parent.

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Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book, Part 5: Implementing Your Plan Each Week

In this series, I show you how to find time to write your first book during the semester, even as a parent on a heavy teaching load (3-3 or 4-4). In previous posts, I’ve tackled some of the pitfalls of planning your time (you don’t keep yourself, the doer in mind) and why and how to develop your first container routine. Last week’s guest poster also offered advice for stressed parents of young children to get your writing done.

This week, we’ll begin implementing your container routine. Doing so involves two principal steps, both of which you should complete before the week begins. (I typically do this on Sunday evening).

  1. Adjusting your container routine (your weekly template) to fit any exceptional commitments in your upcoming week
  2. Filling your containers (both before the week begins and as you go).

Here’s how to do them.

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Finding Time to Write Your Academic Book #3: Introducing the Container Routine

I work with junior humanities and qualitative social science faculty on tackling their book revisions.

Writing an academic book, though, is not just a matter of mastering its content, form, and process.

It also involves trying to find time to write it while still adjusting to a new institution, teaching more classes than ever before, and balancing work and life.

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How To Find Time to Write Your Academic Book, Part 2: Plan for the Doer

This post is part 2 of my 10-part series, in which I tackle one of the trickiest problems for first-time academic book authors: finding the time to write your book when the semester gets hectic.

Next week, I’ll introduce you to the container routine–a simple planning strategy you can implement now, before the semester’s begun, to make sure your top priorities find time in the chaos of your semester day-to-day schedule.

But there’s one main problem.

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Finding Time to Write Your First Academic Book, Part 1: Series Introduction

Over the past year, I’ve committed myself to helping junior scholars in humanities and social sciences tackle their first book project. Many book-specific tasks trip these scholars up, especially getting a handle on their project as a whole and breaking it down into manageable chunks.

But what first-time book authors struggle with more than anything has nothing to do with their books per se and everything to do with managing such a large project.

The #1 question I’m asked is: “How do I find the time to write my book with all my other responsibilities?”

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Professors: Monitor & Reframe This Thought Pattern about Writing to Boost Productivity

Professors Monitor & Reframe this thought pattern to boost productivity

In previous posts, I show humanities faculty why and how to monitor negative writing behaviors and how to develop an action plan to develop better habits.

But thoughts are just as much a part of your writing as the behaviors you exhibit. Curious about tips to be more productive? Monitoring and replacing just one thought pattern can make a significant difference.

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7 Writing Habits for First Time Book Authors to Cultivate

7 Writing Habits for Scholars to Cultivate

You will likely fall into one of two camps. If you’re in the first, you might find yourself frustrated and disappointed about your productivity. You know you can write more (or “be more productive”), but it feels like something is wrong with you. “I don’t know how other people do it!” you tell yourself.

Or, you fall into camp two: it feels like something is wrong with your environment. You just “can’t find the time to write.” You eke out most of your writing at the last minute. Then, exhausted, you take a break, only to find yourself facing an imminent deadline again.

Regardless of which camp you fall in (or even if you don’t quite see yourself in either), I’ve got great news. Like everything else, how much you write is dependent on  an interconnected set of habits, thought patterns, and beliefs.

The good news? All of these are behaviors you can take charge of and develop or change. Here’s how.

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Harness the Power of the Clean Slate to Boost Summer Productivity

Harness the Power of the Clean Slate to Boost Summer Productivity

Faculty: do you plan to use this summer to make headway on your writing projects? Have you fantasized for months about all you’ll finally be able to write once your classes end? Did you (or will you soon) finish the semester stressed, burned out, and needing time to recharge? If so, you might be tempted to take a few weeks completely off from writing. However, this might not be the best strategy because it can lull you into cycles of procrastination.

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Obliger Professors: 3 Unconventional Ways to Say Yes to Your Projects

Obliger Professors Write More

Do you feel like you’ve read every writing and productivity book published for new faculty and scholarly writers, but still struggle to make progress on your projects? Do you make commitments to write at certain times, only to find that something urgent causes you to break your appointment? Do you find yourself taking on too many commitments, yet struggling to say no to new ones?

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Write More, Effortlessly with an Opening Routine

Write More Effortlessly with an Opening Ritual

Do you intend to write, but never start? Or, are you overcome with anxiety the moment you open your computer? Maybe you tell yourself that you will write “in the morning,” but get sidetracked cleaning the kitchen. If any of these scenarios sound like you, then developing and implementing an opening routine–a series of steps you take each time you sit down to write–can help you begin writing more quickly and with less effort.

Ready to write more effortlessly? Read on.

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How to Publish More Academic Articles: Track Weekly and Daily Writing Goals

Want to publish more? Track weekly and daily writing goals

The summer before I began the tenure track, I read as much about how to balance the competing demands of the tenure-track as possible. How did successful faculty publish more than others? One of the sources, Professors as Writers, prompted me to do one small thing that ended paying huge dividends down the road.


I highly recommend Boice’s Professors as Writers for new faculty and graduate students. Three of his main findings are that the most productive faculty members write regularly (mostly at least every week day), they write before they feel ready, and, most importantly for this post, they consistently track their progress.

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