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harrisonfjord

Do you schedule your writing sessions or do you tend to write when you are in the mood to write? +

18 posts in this topic

I have a hard time writing at certain times in the week and based on some productivity research I've been reading, some sources suggest to tackle some of the more taxing writing sessions when you are in the mood to write rather than when you schedule them. 

My question is--generally, do you schedule time to write, if so, when do you find you write most effectively? 2) do you have any strategies for making the most of your writing time? 

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I do schedule time to write but I do it based on knowing myself and my own habits. Which is to say, that I can edit writing in the morning but I'm generally not very productive if I try to write before 10am. Consequently, I don't even try. Knowing yourself is key when it comes to scheduling writing.

To make the most of my writing time, I always have a plan. Some of that comes from being the kind of person who likes to create detailed outlines before I begin writing. Some of it comes from making sure that I leave myself with clear notes/direction at the end of a writing session so it's easy (or easier) to pick it back up. I also set goals for the number of words I want to write or the task I want to complete in a particular session. If I'm in the early or exploratory phases of a project, it might be to write 500-1000 words. But, if I have a clear outline, it might be to complete bullets 2.2 and 2.3 of the outline in a single session. Without goals, I find that my writing expands to fill the available time (and then some!).

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I think there may be some differences in different fields. I have tried a few different things but I find that scheduling time to write has worked the best for me. But, I'm also a type of person that thrives on partitioning my time into chunks and then carrying out that schedule.

For my projects, I typically spend a lot of time working on the research aspect and then transition to writing. I would say this happens when about 80% of the analysis is complete. Writing is hard for me, so I tend to try to procrastinate, which means when it's time to be writing, I'll often find other things to do instead of write. For example, I might try to get a little bit more analysis done. Or, since I work on multiple projects in parallel, I might try to work on another project instead. Pretty soon, I'll find that a whole week has gone by and I've only written two paragraphs. 

To make sure I stop trying to analyze more data and actually get writing done, I now schedule blocks of time dedicated to just writing. Even if I am stuck, I don't allow myself to work on another thing. It's too tempting to switch to another task as soon as I hit a wall, but I find that I need to stare at that wall for a bit before I can overcome it, so scheduling specific writing times helps. 

I do take into account my work habits when I write though. I schedule these blocks for periods of times where I know I can think the most clearly and where there are the least distractions. For me, I think the early afternoon is my best writing time. The morning is often too busy with checking emails, making sure I address any urgent things that might have popped up and then lunch is my socialization time. After lunch, I can feel like I've satisfied my work and social needs/responsibilities and I can block out the world and write for a few hours.

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I'm currently on here, taking a break from writing, haha.

For me, I schedule out my writing, but I generally don't schedule out the times. For instance, I know that I want at least 500 words for each subsection of my main deliverable and that this should, at most, take me an hour to complete. I then assign myself a number of subsections to complete for the day based on how much time I can spend writing that day and how far away my due date is.

Consequently, I need to write another 3 or 4 subsections before I sleep tonight as this deliverable needs to get to my advisor before Wednesday.

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On 6/23/2016 at 2:09 PM, harrisonfjord said:

I have a hard time writing at certain times in the week and based on some productivity research I've been reading, some sources suggest to tackle some of the more taxing writing sessions when you are in the mood to write rather than when you schedule them. 

My question is--generally, do you schedule time to write, if so, when do you find you write most effectively? 2) do you have any strategies for making the most of your writing time? 

This is such a great question, I have received many different answers to it when I have asked professors, colleagues, etc. Thank you for posting it here!

On 6/24/2016 at 2:15 AM, rising_star said:

I do schedule time to write but I do it based on knowing myself and my own habits. Which is to say, that I can edit writing in the morning but I'm generally not very productive if I try to write before 10am. Consequently, I don't even try. Knowing yourself is key when it comes to scheduling writing.

Accommodating your habits (i.e. Know Thyself) seems to be really key for a lot of people I know who write, especially academic writers. The two most productive writers I know have cited a) abiding by a daily writing schedule (tailored to their own habits) and b) small working groups that help hold them accountable as two factors that significantly contribute to their productivity. Maintaining a schedule really seems to require discipline in the beginning, but then daily (or bi-weekly, or whatever your thing is) writing becomes habit!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, @rising_star

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Posted (edited)

Hello,

I have some tips. 

In Quebec, I've found this amazing program called Thésez-vous : http://www.thesez-vous.com/home.html?lang=en

"Three days with over 20 hours of writing, workshops filled with activities to help clear your mind, as well as the opportunity to discuss with other individuals who are facing the same challenges as you. Accommodation and meals are covered, allowing you to fully focus on writing!."

I intend to participate in one session when I'll be finishing my thesis. It's about 300$ but you can get subsidies for it from your university or elsewhere. Check out if there are any writing retreats in your university or similar initiatives as Thésez-vous in your community.

Also, I use the app self-control since the beginning of my undergraduate studies : https://selfcontrolapp.com

Basically, when I feel that I have work to do and that I am procrastinating (being on the Internet is my biggest form of procrastination), I use it. You enter the website that are distracting to you, you set up a time limit, and then these websites are blocked and you can only have access to them once the time is up. You can block them for a maximum of 24 hours. And there is no way to access the websites that you've chosen as distractive before the time is up. It's been really helpful to me to force me to work and increase my productivity.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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6 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

In Quebec, I've found this amazing program called Thésez-vous : http://www.thesez-vous.com/home.html?lang=en

"Three days with over 20 hours of writing, workshops filled with activities to help clear your mind, as well as the opportunity to discuss with other individuals who are facing the same challenges as you. Accommodation and meals are covered, allowing you to fully focus on writing!."

I intend to participate in one session when I'll be finishing my thesis. It's about 300$ but you can get subsidies for it from your university or elsewhere. Check out if there are any writing retreats in your university or similar initiatives as Thésez-vous in your community.

Every school I've attended or taught at has had some version of a "dissertation writing bootcamp", involving some form of communal writing/shaming into writing component, with multiple sessions throughout the day over a week or two and with some form of food provided. Those are usually organized by the student union and tend to be free, so it's worth checking them out. They're (maybe) useful for those times when you absolutely have to produce a large amount of text in a limited amount of time, but beyond that developing healthy habits for writing is generally a good idea, because writing is going to be a part of your life as an academic after your dissertation is done and at times when you couldn't possibly drop everything and just write, because you have too many other obligations. 

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5 minutes ago, fuzzylogician said:

Every school I've attended or taught at has had some version of a "dissertation writing bootcamp", involving some form of communal writing/shaming into writing component, with multiple sessions throughout the day over a week or two and with some form of food provided. Those are usually organized by the student union and tend to be free, so it's worth checking them out. They're (maybe) useful for those times when you absolutely have to produce a large amount of text in a limited amount of time, but beyond that developing healthy habits for writing is generally a good idea, because writing is going to be a part of your life as an academic after your dissertation is done and at times when you couldn't possibly drop everything and just write, because you have too many other obligations. 

Good to know! 

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I have done both scheduling time to write and just writing whenever I please. Scheduling time helps you stay on deadlines but it also causes the most stress. Writing whenever you want lessens that stress but the deadlines creep up on you and you are left scrambling for it. So I try to find a happy medium.

I have taken part in NaNoRiMo (unsuccessfully but still tried) and Shut Up and Write Tuesdays. My friends and I just made our own time to write that we called Whimsical Writing Wednesday where we just sit together and write and ask for advice or someone to read stuff for us. The problem with a group is that is falls under the group dynamic of socializing first, then work later so be careful with writing as a group. Pick people who are serious and won't derail the session. If you need to be a hard-ass, be a hard-ass.

One strategy I do is just to write something everyday. Even if it is just a page or a paragraph, at least it is something. Work on the outline, edit a chapter, anything that is progress. But do it every single day. And just from personal experience, if you are on a roll with writing, don't stop. Keep that going and you'll end up producing so much. While it may be unhealthy sometimes (I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I spent writing my thesis because I was on a roll), I don't regret any moment of it. It got my shit done in the time that I needed it.

Also, I haven't tried it yet but I might soon is a software called Zenwriter (maybe someone can attest to it and tell me what they think about it). It is supposed to be a distraction-free software where it is just you and the document and that's it. But I can't speak from personal experience on it, just tossing out its existence.

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Hello,

I wonder, what does your typical day or typical week look like as a graduate student (at the master's level)?

I've made myself a studying schedule for next semester just to get an idea of what my weeks would look like. And even if I have only 3 classes during the week and 5 days without classes, I'm realizing that I have to put a lot of work into this program and that I won't have much free time throughout my studies. I'm realizing that I am a lot more autonomous in terms of how I manage my schedule (which is nice for me). But still, lot of work. 

Is it true that for every 3-hour class you have to put in 6 hours of work?

 

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4 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Is it true that for every 3-hour class you have to put in 6 hours of work?

I think that's going to depend on the class. Some of my classes required reading a book a week plus secondary literature while others required reading 4-6 journal articles per week. Those took wildly different amounts of time as one might guess. Similarly, some classes required weekly response papers, others required 1-2 longer papers, and still others required just one long (25-30 page) paper at the end. So, it's hard to say how many hours of work per class.

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I generally schedule research days or blocks of time, where I can alternate between reading, writing and editing depending on my mood or what stage of the project I'm at. I'm very much someone who writes on the fly and I've never been one for meticulous planning. Having a more fluid approach works well for me, as I tend to write a lot in short bursts, rather than a little bit every day. Being able to more freely swap between all the various things I need to do tends to keep me on top of my projects and maximises my available time.

On 13/04/2017 at 10:21 PM, MinaminoTeku said:

I have taken part in NaNoRiMo (unsuccessfully but still tried) and Shut Up and Write Tuesdays.

Cool to see another Nano writer! I failed a few times, but finally got a win in 2015. Keep at it!

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50 minutes ago, qkhitai said:

I generally schedule research days or blocks of time, where I can alternate between reading, writing and editing depending on my mood or what stage of the project I'm at. I'm very much someone who writes on the fly and I've never been one for meticulous planning. Having a more fluid approach works well for me, as I tend to write a lot in short bursts, rather than a little bit every day. Being able to more freely swap between all the various things I need to do tends to keep me on top of my projects and maximises my available time.

Cool to see another Nano writer! I failed a few times, but finally got a win in 2015. Keep at it!

One day, I will succeed! I have many story ideas that I want to turn into novels someday.

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I find that writing when I am in the mood works best, if I try to write when I am not in the mood its usually slow and inefficient. Sometimes I don't feel like writing for 2-weeks, or at times I'll stay up until 3-4am writing because I am feeling it. 

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Posted (edited)

I schedule my time. Writing in the mood would be much better, but it's a rare condition. But avoid writing when I really don't feel like doing that!!! Last time I convinced myself to stay at home and get down to my project and accidentally deleted my word documents. On one of the forums I was suggested word document recovery https://www.cleverfiles.com/word-excel-recovery.html and got my project back. But it hit my nerve 

Edited by Beehelp

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I rely on my mood always. Whenever I feel inspired, that's the best time for me to get it all down on Word (or Final Draft if I'm writing screenplays). But at times I work best under pressure when deadlines are approaching.

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This is how I handled my thesis. I knew what books of a particular author I was going to write on, with each taking a chapter. I kept chapters separate and wrote on each as a separate paper but connected. I planned to a certain extent when I would write and concentrated on getting a draft of a complete idea down before stopping, whether that was one paragraph or three pages. Once I had all chapters completed, I went back through the chapters relating similarities and connecting them to other chapters. When I work on that particular aspect, I do not stop until I have completed the whole chapter because relational ideas that connect to other chapters usually take 2-3 hours max. Sometimes the problem with scheduling writing time is that your mind is not ready to delve into the task, because some aspect of your thoughts haven't come together to form the critical thinking necessary for writing about a particular aspect. When that happens I use the time I had set aside for writing, to edit and revise other completed ideas I had already worked on. When I have a brilliant thought about something, I plug it into Siri as a note so that when I have time to write about it, I still have access to my idea. Sometimes those ideas come when writing something I will lose if I stop. Making a note using Siri is a way to lose no more than a few seconds and your current writing topic won't get muddled. Although I try to write sequentially, my mind often dictates what I write on. Therefore, only the barest of outlines works for me. I write as I think about things then move the sections around when the chapter is finished.

The way I write could be seen as somewhat scrambled, but I work best when creativity hits me. Due to time constraints I have to schedule writing sessions, so work on ideas as I think about them or refer back to my notes. Otherwise, I use the scheduled time to do things that do not rely on creativity and textual analysis.

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