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

ISBN: 1591477433

ISBN13: 9781591477433

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

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Book Overview

All students and professors need to write, and many struggle to finish their stalled dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, or grant proposals. Writing is hard work and can be difficult to wedge into a frenetic academic schedule. In this practical, light-hearted, and encouraging book, Paul Silvia explains that writing productively does not require innate skills or special traits but specific tactics and actions. Drawing examples from his...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Hi, my name is Meg and I'm a binge writer.

I picked up this book knowing that it was going to tell me to stick to a writing schedule. I thought, "Well, I'll just ignore that part and pick out the stuff I like." I really did not want to hear that in order to be productive, I would have to schedule several hours a week in order to write. I am a busy person; where on earth will I "find the time"? Long weekends and school breaks are when the writing will get done. Well, P. J. Silvia shattered that illusion into a million pieces... He made it clear that I will never complete my papers if I keep waiting for the perfect moment, because during those perfect moments I will find something else that needs to be done (e.g. catch up on sleep, call my mother, wash the laundry, etc.). Unfortunately, it is my job to write. Problem, no? But you see, I DETEST writing. I become paralyzed by anxiety, and I dread the exhaustion that inevitably follows a bout with my computer. So, I avoid it. But Dr Silvia argues that if I wrote at a specific time, on specific days, every week--and gave myself small goals for that session (e.g. write 200 words)--there would be no anxiety. Afterall, who can't write 200 words in an hour or two? Moreover, that small task won't drain me of energy. Research would not become enjoyable, but it would lose its status as cruel and unusual punishment. It would simply become an unpleasant part of my work, comparable to having to attend boring committee meetings. I picked up this book intending to ignore the nasty scheduling piece, and I left converted. This book shatters any illusions you may have about binge writing being the "technique" that works for you. So, if you don't want to schedule writing time, maybe you should ask yourself why--and then read this book.

An Absolute Necessity

This is the best investment a graduate student or academic can make. While other books may encourage some of the same behaviors prescribed by Paul Silvia, *no* other how-to guide so brutally, convincingly, and entertainingly demolishes the excuses that you tell yourself when you're procrastinating. Other how-to's merely give advice, while this book positively demands productivity from you.

1500 words per day

I read this book in early May. On May 7, I began writing my dissertation proposal. On June 6 (today), I turned it in; it is 106 pages (including several figures and tables) and contains over 25,000 words. On the days I wrote, I averaged over 1500 words per day. On the days I didn't write, I still had Writing Hours, and worked on the figures, tables, references, etc. Without this book, I would not have had Writing Hours and I would not have written as high quality a prospectus as I did. Contributing to the quality of my prospectus is the section in this book that includes grammatical information. This section is critical. You want to write a lot of good words, not just a lot of words. If you know someone who likes things, this book would make a great gift.

Motivational, Insightful and Extremely Helpful!

This little volume carries a lot of punch; don't be confused by it's small stature. While Silvia outlines his method right from the start - Schedule Time to Write - his development of the things one needs to consider in order to be productive is wonderfully insightful. Perhaps the most useful chapter is the second in which he lists a number of "Specious Barriers to Writing a Lot," i.e. poor excuses. It may be his background in psychology, or just his keen observational and analytical skills, but he is right on target in identifying those excuses we use time and again to prevent productive writing. His combating of these barriers is both humorous and motivating. The only downside, and it is minor, is that he writes as if to an audience comprised solely of psychologists. Granted, he is one and the book is published by the APA, but the psychological examples can become a bit grating. That said, his book still speaks to a wide readership that can glean wonderful tips from his book. (My field is in the humanities and I found the book to be top notch!) I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a writer - especially the academics out there!

409 words/day over the last 28 days

All of my grad student friends went to a talk by Dr. Silvia during a recent conference. I decided to go to a different talk on some boring topic I don't remember anymore. Everyone came back raving about what a good talk it was and how helpful the advice seemed. So I decided to buy this book because I didn't want to be left out of the conversation. Over the last month, I followed the advice in this book and tripled my average writing output even though I had a master's thesis to defend and was teaching my first class. I owe 3908 words in my thesis and 11452 words overall to the method in this book. I think I owe a piece of my sanity to it as well.
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