Paperback writer?

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an avid reader. I have a home that resembles a library, and on any given day I am likely to be found with at least two books on the go. Right now, I’m part way through Sophie’s World, The almost nearly perfect people, Arthur, and Being in Time (ok, with that last one I’ve been on the same page for over a year so it probably doesn’t count). New books are published all the time – in fact I wish they’d stop for a while so I could get to the end of my reading list. All these new books and new authors got me wondering…why, if these people can write and get published, do I find writing so difficult?  

Academic writing is not something I’d say comes naturally to me. In fact, my supervisors pointed out recently that a piece of writing I’d given them sounded as though ‘I was sitting with them having a chat’. Ouch!  To be fair, I had not been focusing on writing academically, I’d just been trying to write.

I took their comments on board and re-wrote the offending few pages, an incredibly time-consuming task, particularly as I was paranoid about my writing style by that point. As I was re-writing, I thought ‘next time I’ll try and write properly from the start, that’ll save me loads of extra work’. So, with my supervisors satisfied with my rewrite, I set about writing the next section. That was about six weeks ago, and I’ve written approximately 100 words since. Why? Because I’ve been too concerned with my writing style. The problem is, writing a well-structured 100 words every six weeks is just not going to get me to the end of a thesis.  

When it comes to writing , everyone offers different advice. I’ve read articles in which the authors have suggested that the most efficient way to write is to write once, and to write well. I think the last six weeks has demonstrated that that’s not going to work for me.  

Thankfully I came across a blog post recently in which the author suggested that writing quickly, writing a lot and writing without worrying about style can be effective. Phew! I think the suggestion was to write 1000 words a day, and then to edit. Just pick a bit and write. You can put it in order later.  

So that’s my new plan. For the next week I’m going to be getting up at 6am, and writing for one hour before I go to work. I’m aiming to write 400 words each morning, and I’ll increase it if it seems to be working. After work, I’ll read an article related to what I wrote that morning, I’ll return to my writing, fix the obvious problems and add any new ideas. If I do that Monday-Friday, by Saturday I should have around 2000 words to work with. 

Fingers crossed!

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