Geetanjali Mukherjee

Friday, July 4, 2014

Book Review: How To Write A Lot

This week's book review is on a book I read earlier this year - How To Write A Lot by Paul Silvia. It's a short book and a quick read, but packs in a lot of useful insight in its pages.

Rating: 4.5 stars

General Comments: The author's style is engaging and humorous - so much so that I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book - a first for a book written by an academic! The book is aimed at helping academic writers get more research published - and the examples refer to academic writing - however, the insights are useful for anyone wishing to write more.

3 Insights From The Book:

1. Create a writing schedule - this is the central insight of the book. As all of us are busy, even though we want to write more, it becomes difficult to consistently make time for it. The author recommends creating a schedule and keeping it as strictly as any other appointment - starting with 4 hours a week, and adding in more if appropriate. A schedule ensures that the work gets done regularly, without undue stress. Using a writing schedule, the author of the book has published numerous books and academic articles. (In fact, his CV is several pages long, and I found going through his list of publications was making me feel incredibly inadequate.)

2. Write by schedule, not inspiration - waiting for inspiration is counter-productive. The author cites research which has shown that waiting for inspiration doesn't work. Those who write on a schedule produce four times as much as those who wait to feel like it. This is pretty motivating - especially as waiting for inspiration seems to be quite often the primary strategy of those wanting to write more.

3. Monitor your progress - merely tracking one's progress often produces behavior changes. Also seeing your progress can make your goals seem closer and more attainable. The author suggests a database to track the progress in each writing session, but even writing each day's accomplishment in a notebook or dedicated word document, or tracking with an app, could be beneficial.

Recommend For: Anyone who is serious about wanting to write (or create) more. It is astonishing how something done in small chunks on a daily or regular basis, can add up to impressive amounts.

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