How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing

好书



Title: How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing
Authors: Paul J. Silva
Edition: 1
Finished Date: 2014-01-25
Rating: 5
Language: English
Genres: Productivity, Writing
Level: Entry
Publishers: Amer Psychological Assn
Publication Date: 2007-01-15
ISBN: 978-1591477433
Format: Pdf
Pages: 149
Download: Pdf

How to write a lot

1. Introduction

Writing productively is a skill, not a generic gift, so you can learn how to do it.

Writing productively is about actions that you aren’t doing but could easily do:

  • make a schedule
  • set clear goals
  • keep track of your work
  • reward yourself
  • build a good habit

Productive writers don’t have special gifts or special traits—they just spend more time writing and sue this time more efficiently.

Changing your behavior won’t necessarily make writing fun, but it will make writing easier and less oppressive.

1.1 Writing is hard

Fun

  • do research
  • collect data
  • data analysis

Not fun

writing about research

If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard

People yearn for a big block of time but write little. This block of time should be used other place, such as with friends and family

1.2 the way we learn now

Writing is a skill, developed through systematic instruction and practice. People must learn rules and strategies and then practice them.

Deliberate practice breeds skills

The most common model of training is to presume that graduate students will learn about writing from their advisors. But many students’ advisors are struggling writers, too.

View writing as a set of concrete behaviors, such as

(a) sitting on a chair, bench, stool, ottoman, toilet

(b) splat flippers against the keyboard

You can foster these behaviors using simple strategies.

Remember: writing isn’t a race or a game. Write as much or as little as you want. Don’t feel that you ought write more than you want to write, and don’t publish fluffy nonsense just for the sake of publishing. Scientific communication

2. Specious barriers to write a lot

2.1 Specious barrier 1: “I can’t find time to write”

also known as “I would write more if I could just find big blocks of time”

Like most false beliefs, this barrier persists because it’s comforting.

这和the willpower instinct讲的一样,当我们没有达到所以想做的动作和结果,我们的relief systems启动。但是这个系统只是promise to relief的错觉,真正的结果是不能relief,

Specious because “finding time”

  • We do not need to “find time to teach”
  • a destructive way of thinking about writing. Never say this again

Solution

Instead of finding time to write, allot time to write
Make a schedule and stick to it

The secret is the regularity, not the number of days or the number of hours

To begin, allot a mere 4 hours per week.

Literally, get up and start to write.

Wasteful, unproductive strategy: binge writing

When following a schedule, I no longer worry about not writing. I write during allotted times and then forget about it. I don’t worry about writing because I now that I’ll do it

这和GTD的想法一样,empty head and focused attention

ruthlessly defend your writing time: allot time to write

forewarned: other people will not respect your commitment to your writing time. Just say no

reasons:

  1. Only bad writers will hold your refusal against you.
  2. Treat scheduled writing time like scheduled teaching time. Say no and explain why you can’t.

Always write during your scheduled time, but don’t be dogmatic about writing only within this time. It’s great if you keep writing after the period is over or if you do some writing on a non-writing day.

即使在没有scheduled的时间写作,仍然还要在scheduled的时间里写作

2.2 Specious Barrier 2: “I need to do some more analyses first”

aka, “I need to read a few more articles”

Binge writers are also binge readers and binge statisticians. The bad habits that keep them from writing also keep them from doing the prewriting, the reading, outlining, idea generation, and data analysis necessary for generating text.

Solution

Do whatever you need to d during your allotted writing time

  • read articles
  • review page proofs
  • read a book about writing to get advice
  • review a journal’s submission guidelines
  • make figures and tables
  • check page proofs

Writing is more than typing words: Any action that is instrumental in completing a writing project counts as writing

Another reason why scheduling time to write is the only way to write a lot

Professional writing involves a lot of components

  • extensive literature reviews
  • careful analyses
  • precisely worded descriptions of research methods

2.3 Specious Barrier 3: “To write a lot, I need a new computer”

Also a laser printer, a nice chair, a better desk

The best kind of self-control is to avoid situations that require self-control.

Solution: make a schedule and stick to it

2.4 Specious Barrier 4: “I’m waiting until I feel like it”

aka I write best when I’m inspired to write

Research has shown that waiting for inspiration doesn’t work

3. Motivational Tools

1. Set Clear writing goals

  1. realize that goal setting is part of the process of writing

    It’s a good idea to devote a writing session to developing and clarifying writing goals

    Author: do it once a month

  2. list project goals

    Examples:

    • revise a paper

    • resubmit a paper

    • start a new manuscript

    • write an invited chapter for an edited book

    • revive that half-done paper you started last year

    • develop a grant proposal

    • write a book

    1. writing goals for the next few months

      a grant proposal deadline on the horizon

      a review article that you always meant to write

    2. set a concrete goal for each day of writing

      Examples:

      • Write at least 200 words
      • Print the first draft I finished yesterday, read it and revise it
      • Make a new list of project goals and write them on my whiteboard
      • Write the first three paragraphs of the general discussion
      • Add missing references and then reconcile the citations and references
      • Reread chapters 22 and 24 from Zinsser (2001) to recharge my writing batteries
      • Finish the “Setting Goals” section that I started yesterday
      • Brainstorm and then make an outline for a new manuscript
      • Reread the reviewers’ comments of my paper and make a list of things to change
      • Correct the page proofs and mail them back

2. Setting writing priorities

Faculty

  1. Checking page proofs and copyedited manuscripts

    Checking page proofs is the final stage in the process of publishing. There is a firm deadline. Usually within 48 hours.

  2. Finishing projects with deadlines

    Examples:

    • invited book chapters
    • grant proposals
    • administrative writing

      If you follow a writing schedule, you’ll finish things early

  1. Revising manuscripts to resubmit to a journal

    Revising manuscripts are closer to publication than new manuscripts

  2. Review manuscripts and grant proposals

  3. Developing a new manuscript

    Relative easy compared with grants, books and revised manuscripts

    Example

    papers in order to submit for publishing

  4. Doing miscellaneous writing

####Graduate Students

  1. Projects with deadlines

    Example

    • required papers for classes and seminars
    • grant proposals, such as fellowships that support graduate training
  2. Curricular writing

    • master thesis
    • a comprehensive or qualifying paper
    • a dissertation
  3. Professional publications
  4. Other writing

    • review books
    • contribute to bulletins and newsletters

      Less important than peer-reviewed, archived professional publications such as journal articles and book chapters

    Writing begets writing
    People who wrote regularly had more creative ideas for writing compared with people who wrote only when they feel like it.

    Nothing to write? make a new set of project goals

    Graduate students do have things to write

  5. get involved in an ongoing writing project

  6. use scheduled writing time for professional development

    Always make time to think

    • read books about writing and teaching
    • reflect on your research
    • think about your broader career goals

3. Monitoring Progress

Motivational effects

  1. help focus
  2. help you sit down and write
  3. help set better goals. Better goal setting, in tern, leads to more productive writing

4. Rewards

When submit a paper or proposal, buy yourself a nice cup of coffee, a good lunch.

It takes months to hear from journal editors and grant panels–so immediate self-rewards will sustain motivation.

Only a fool, however, rewards productive writing with skipping a scheduled writing period

the powers of routine and habit

Write first, revise later

writing中的write和revise用的是不同mindsets!!!类似GTD
write是collect
revise是clarify
  • don’t do both at once
  • write
    • to throw confused, wide-eyed words on a page
  • revise
    • to scrub the words clean so that they sound nice and make sense

write journal articles

outlining and prewriting

  • outlining
    • is writing
    • Writers who complain about “writer’s block” are writers who don’t outline
    • Clear thinking becomes clear writing
      • Get your thoughts in order before you try to communicate them
    • make decision early about paper
      • how long of the paper
      • how much attention do you want to give
      • a short report or a full-length research article?
    • concise
    • an inner audience help you with your writing decisions
      • an image of who will read your paper
        • biggest part
          • professors
          • graduate
        • smaller groups
          • undergraduate
          • journalists
          • people working in related fields
        • many readers speak English as a second or third language
    • make a rough list of the journals you want to publish your paper
      • different journals have different audience
        • specialists
          • smooth, professional tone
        • broad audience
    • write for a normal person
      • not too serious
      • not too casual

title and abstract

  • title
    • balance generality and specificity
      • too specific: sound technical and tedious
  • include all the research keywords in your abstract that you want to yield your article

introduction

  • there is formula
  • overview of the article
    Priority: 1

    • one or two paragraphs
    • describe the general problem, question, or theory that motivated the research
  • body of introduction
    • describe relevant theories
    • review past research
    • discuss in more details the question that motivated your research

reference

  • self citation
    • cite your past work

what if they reject my paper?

  • people shouldn’t be motivated to write
  • they should simply stick to a writing schedule, mental rain or mental shine
    Priority: 1

  • Researchers who publish a lot of articles receive a lot of rejects
    Priority: 2

  • sometimes, rejections are unfair, mean, and poorly reasoned

  • Funny
    The more papers you publish, the more rejections you receive.
    Following the tips in this book will make you the most rejected writer in your department.

coauthoring

  • one author did most of the writing
  • be careful whom you write with
  • don’t commit to research collaborations without discussing who will write the manuscript
    • binge writer
    • enthusiasm isn’t commitment
    • set deadline for your coauthors of the first draft

review articles

  • many kinds of review
    • goals
    • structure
    • methods
  • no formula
  • need a lot of planning

    • scope of the article
      Priority: 1

      • short
      • long, comprehensive
      • the audience of the article
    • outline
      Priority: 2
  • original point

    • think about the difference between problem solving and problem finding
      • problem solving
        • describe a problem
        • propose a solution to the problem
      • problem finding
        • develop new concepts
        • identify topics that deserve more attention
    • good review articles involve both
  • hard to write

write a book

why write a book

  • write to learn
    • after writing your book, you’ll have a decade’s worth of research ideas
  • capstone for a series of journal articles
  • convey the complexity of their research
  • fun to write a book

textbook

  • translate the language of journal articles into the words of daily life

how to write your book

  • two easy steps

    • find a coauthor
      Priority: 1

      • good reasons
        • write faster
        • complement your expertise
      • pick a coauthor who writes a lot
      • or non-writing coauthor who have special expertise
    • or find a mentor
    • plan your book
      Priority: 2

      • develop a strong table of contents
        • the author, Paul J. Silvia, spent 2 months
      • outline for each chapter
        • describe within a few paragraphs
        • better for writing
        • to get a book contract
      • scholarly book
        • 8 - 14 chapters
      • textbook
        • 12 - 20 chapters
  • one hard step
    • write the damn thing
      • write in order from 2nd chapter
        • don’t write the easy part first
      • write 1st chapter and the preface last
  • organize resources by chapter, not by topic
  • monitor the progress on your book

    • keep a chart

      • Chapter Pages Words First draft Revised draft Chapter title
        1 10 2,770 done done Introduction
        2 23 5,830 done done Interest as an Emotion
        References
        Total
    • publishers and editors measure length in words

    • can add more columns
      • multiple authors
        • who is supposed to write each
      • deadlines for each chapter

how to find a publisher

  • after finished a couple of chapters, make a first contact with book editors
    • easy to pick out the book editors at a conference
    • they are better dressed than students and professors and stand beside lots of books
  • don’t sign a contract until you know that your deal with yourself is unbreakable
  • if intrigued by your book, editors will encourage you to send them a book proposal
  • proposal guidelines on every publisher’s Internet page
  • unlike journal articles, book proposals can be submitted simultaneously to several publishers
  • To save everyone’s time, don’t send a proposal to a publisher that you wouldn’t want to publish your book
  • when considering possible publishers
    • look for those with a strong presence in the area you’re writing about
  • editors send your proposal to peer reviews, often to people whose books they have published
  • book contract

    • big deal
    • read carefully
    • standard parts of a book contract
      • specify a delivery data
        • 2 years from the date of the contract is common
        • be empirical: use your statistics to estimate a delivery date
      • royalties
        • different rates for paperback and hardcover
        • the rates increase as more copies are sold
        • exceptions
          • foreign translations
          • no one profits
            • remaindered books
            • complimentary copies
    • Publishers entice authors with advances

      • this money is an advance on your royalties from the book
      • isn’t a signing bonus
      • It you don’t need an advance you can decline it.
      • advances are helpful if you plan to pay someone to proofread the page proofs
        or to make the book’s figures
    • who is responsible

      • handling permissions
        • requests to reprint material from other sources
      • creating the book’s figures
      • composing the index
      • usually, the author should be responsible for all above.
        Textbook publishers generally prefer to handle these
    • how future editions of the book will be handled

      • many contracts give publishers the right to request a revised edition of the book
      • if you pass away or retire
      • the contract might outline adjustments in royalties - either increases or decreases - for future editions
    • who owns the copyright to the book

      • scholarly books
        • publisher typically retains the copyright
      • describe what happens to the book if it goes out of print

        • for example, the author can request a reprinting if the book has been out of print for 6 months.

        • be sure that you own the rights to the book when it goes out of print.

          This gives you the option of revising the book and reprinting it with a different publisher.

    • A publisher may put a right of first refusal clause in the contract

      • they want to have the first shot at your next book proposal, even if they decide not to publish your next book.
  • extensive author questionnaire that asks for information about you and about your book

    • for cataloging, marketing and promotion
    • put a lot of thought into it
  • spend a few hundred dollars to pay someone to review your page proofs
  • prepare indexes

Good Brooks About writing

The few essential books

  • Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary
  • The elements of style 4th ed 200
  • On writing well (25th anniversary ed) 2001

books for style

  • the practical stylist 2nd ed 1969
  • simple and direct: a rhetoric for writers 2001
  • when good people write bad sentences: 12 steps to better writing habits 2003
  • Junk English 2001
  • Junk English 2 2004
  • curmudgeon’s guide to the many things that can go wrong in print - And how to avoid them 2002
  • the elephants of style: a truckload of tips on the big issues and gray areas of contemporary 2004

books for grammar and punctuation

  • the transitive vampire: a handbook of grammar for the innocent, the eager, and the doomed 1984
  • the new well-tempered sentence: a punctuation handbook for the innocent, the eager and the doomed 2003
  • sin and syntax: How to craft wickedly effective prose 1999
  • eats, shoots and leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation 2003

books for motivation

  • professors as writers: a self-help guide to productive writing 1990
  • Writing past dark: Envy, fear, distraction, and other dilemmas in the writer’s life 1993
  • The writer’s book of hope 2003
  • On writing: A memoir of the craft 2000

start argraphia group

a type of support group for people who want to write faster and better

reinforce good habits and keep from slipping backs

a successful agraphia group has five components

  • set concrete, short-term goals
    and monitor the group’s process
    Priority: 1

    • (Bandura,1997) proximal goal setting enhances motivation
    • At each meeting, each member set goals and commit to completing before the next meeting
      • make an outline for my paper
      • write at least 1000 words on my book
      • call the NMH program officer to discuss my grant proposal
    • monitor: at the start of next meeting, recite previous goals and whether met
  • every week or every other week
    • beyond 2 weeks, goals become too abstract and long range
  • stick to writing goals, not other professional goals
    Priority: 2

    • read books about writing
    • struggle with style
      • On Writing Well (Zinsser, 2001)
      • Junk English (Smith, 2001)
    • struggle with motivation
      • The Writer’s Book of Hope (Keyes, 2003)
      • Professors as Writers (Boice, 1990)
      • On Writing (Stephen King’, 2000)
  • informal social rewards
    Priority: 3

    • situation
      • submit a grant proposal
      • sends a manuscript to a journal
    • unconditional supportive
      • ask schedule, form a more realistic schedule
  • have different groups for faculty and students
    Priority: 4

    • different writing priorities
    • different struggles
    • different challenges

social pressure

motivational tools

stick to schedule first

set clear goals

Priority: 1

  • advantage
    • motivating
  • steps

    • goal setting (planning) is part of the process of writing
      Priority: 1

      • good idea to devote a writing session to developing
        and clarifying your writing goals
    • list project goals
      Priority: 2

      • the individual projects that need to be written
        • examples
          • revise and resubmit a paper
          • start a new manuscript
          • write an invited chapter for an edited book
          • revive that half-done paper you started last year
          • develop a grant proposal
          • write a book
    • set concrete goal for each day of writing
      Priority: 3

      • example
        • write at least 200 words
        • print the first draft I finish yesterday, read it, and revise it
        • make a new list of project goals write them on my white board
        • write the first three paragraphs of the general discussion
        • add missing references and then reconcile the citations and references
        • read chapters 22 and 24 from Zinsser(2001) to recharge my writing batteries
        • finish the “Setting goals” section that I started yesterday
        • brainstorm and then make an outline for a new manuscript
        • reread the reviewers’ comments of my paper and make a list of things to change
        • correct the page proofs and mail them back

set priorities

Priority: 2

  • high priorities

    • professors
      • checking page proofs and copyedited manuscripts
      • finishing projects with deadlines
      • revise manuscripts to resubmit
      • review manuscripts and grand proposals
      • develop a new manuscript
      • doing miscellaneous writing
    • graduate students

      • projects with deadlines
      • grand proposals: fellowships that support graduate training
      • curricular writing
        • master’s thesis
        • dissertation
      • professional publications
        • strong theses and dissertations should be submitted to professional journals
        • aspire to publish more than your thesis and dissertation
      • other writing: less priority
        professional writing: a higher priority

        • review books
        • contribute to bulletin and newsletters

Boice (1990) found, people who wrote regularly had more creative ideas for writing compared with people who wrote only when they felt like it

nothing to write?

  • always make time to think
    • read books about writing and teaching
    • reflect on your research
    • think about your broader career goals

monitor progress

Priority: 3

  • effects
    • motivational
      • keep goals focus
      • monitor behavior helps you sit down and write (self-observation)
        • (Korotish 1999) Self-observation alone can cause the desired behaviors
      • help set better goal
        • After a while, have enough data to make realistic estimates of how long it will take to write sth.
  • ways
    • table files
      • month, date, day, words, goal, project
      • essential
        • words
          • the number of words entered that day
          • empty column
            • writing involves tasks, not just generating text
              • reading articles
              • file out forms for a grant proposal
              • reread a manuscript that needs to be resubmitted
        • goal
          • met
          • unmet
        • projects
          • describe the project goal worked on that day
      • data analysis
        • draw graphs
  • key
    • tracking
  • reward when finishing a project goal
    • (Skinner, 1987) Self-reinforcement and contingency management are time honored ways of fostering desirable behaviors
    • example
      • submit a paper
      • submit a grant proposal
    • immediate self-rewards
      • not after grand is approved
    • rewards productive writing with skipping a scheduled writing period
      • never reward writing with not writing
    • lose habits and routines

writer’s block

Priority: 4

  • academic writers cannot get writer’s block
    • different from fine arts
    • dispositional fallacy
    • writer’s block strikes only writers who believe in it
  • if existed
    • stop working on your Collected Poems and get back to write your journal article
    • redevelop your writing schedule and recommit to sticking to it

dispositional fallacy

  • a description of behavior can’t also explain the described behavior

specious barriers

at first they seems to be reasons for not writing,

after examination, they are not the reasons

  • time
    Priority: 1

    • sentences
      • I can’t find time to write
      • I would write more if I could just find big blocks of time
    • We don’t miss teaching schedules
    • Finding time is a destructive way of thinking about writing.
      Never say this again

    • allot time to write

      • make a schedule
      • stick to it
      • Secret: regularity,
        not the number of days or the number of hours

      • ruthlessly defend writing time

      • forewarn: other people will not respect your commitment to your writing time
        • resent inflexibility
        • call you rigid
        • there’s some deeper reason
      • only way to write a lot
    • unproductive: binge writing
      • procrastinating
      • feeling guilty
      • anxious about procrastinating
    • handle well-intentioned intruders
      • say no
        • reasons
          • only bad writers will hold your refusal against you
          • The people who are happy to intrude on your writing time would never ask to intrude on your teaching time, your time that you spend wit your family, or your sleeping time. They simply see your writing time as less important.
    • windfall writing
      • keep writing after the period is over
      • or doing some writing on a non-writing day
      • even if writing outside schedule, continue writing within schedule time
  • analyses
    Priority: 2

    • sentences
      • I need to do some more analyses first
      • I need to read a few more articles
    • bad sequences: keep from
      • prewriting
      • reading
      • data analysis
    • Do whatever you need to do during your allotted writing time
      • doing in the scheduled time
        • statistics
        • read articles
        • review page proofs
      • Writing is more than writing words
        • Any action that is instrumental in completing a writing project counts as writing
        • professional writing involves
          • extensive literature reviews
          • careful analyses
          • precisely worded descriptions of research methods
  • appliance
    Priority: 3

    • sentences
      • To write a lot, I need a new computer
      • a laser printer
      • a nice chair
      • a better desk
    • not essential
  • The best kind of self-control is to avoid situations that require self-control
  • motivation
    Priority: 4

    • sentences
      • I’m waiting until I feel like it
      • I write best when I’m inspired to write
    • the most irrational
      • How has this strategy worked so far?
      • Are you happy with how much you write?
      • Do you feel stressed about finding time to write or completing half-finished projects?
      • Do you sacrifice your evenings and weekends for writing?
    • waiting for inspiration write least

introduction

writing

  • is hard
    • have a lot research result but do not write
  • a skill
    • not an innate gift or a special talent
    • developed through systematic instruction and practice
      • learn rules and strategy
      • practice
      • deliberate practice breeds skill
  • write as normal person, not like a poet
  • not a race or game
    • write as much or as little as you want
    • don’t feel that you ought to write more than you want to write
    • not mistake a lot of publications for a lot of good ideas

key

  • routine
  • habits

focus of this book

write a lot

not write well

we should take time to learn the principles of strong writing

  • schedule: write a lot
  • take much longer to learn how to write well

style

phenomenon

  • If you talk with the authors of disastrously written articles,
    you’ll find that they’re enthusiastic about their work.

  • their spoken description are often clear, lively, and interesting

diagnose the problem for bad writers

  • want to sound smart
    Priority: 1

    • not use good words like smart
    • use sophisticated or erudite
  • never learn how to write well
    Priority: 2

  • don’t spend enough time writing to become good writers
    Priority: 3

    • need time to practice, like other skills
    • learn the rules of good writing and
      spend hundreds of hours practicing the rules

solve

  • change ideas
    Priority: 1

    • Most scientists are impressed by good ideas and interesting findings, so don’t hide the ideas behind a wall of junk English.
  • buy some books about writing
    Priority: 2

    • reference at the end of the book
  • read books and practice their suggestions during scheduled writing time
    Priority: 3

choose good words

  • short
  • expressive
  • familiar
  • keep good science words and exclude the bad words that emigrate from business, marketing, politics, and warfare
  • use technical terms consistently
    • varying terms will confuse readers
  • delete very, quite, basically, actually, virtually, extremely, remarkably, completely, at all
    • add no meaning
    • parasitic intensifiers
  • individual

write strong sentences

  • not overuse a single type of sentence
  • 3 types of sentences
    • simple
      • one object
    • compound
      • two clauses
    • complex
      • contain dependent and independent clauses
  • semicolon
  • dash
    • em dash
    • a single dash can connect a clause or phrase to the end of sentence
    • two dashes can enclose a parenthetical expression
  • parallel sentences
  • such that
    • drop the preceding clause
    • replace such that with a colon
  • active, not passive
  • not use “not”, negate with verbs
    • to be __ ive of
      • to be indicative of = to indicate
      • to be reflective of = to reflect