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Q&A: Strategies for bringing your writing projects to completion, overcoming writer’s block, and managing your time

Q: “How do you bring your writing projects to completion? Do you write daily, in large blocks? What strategies do you use to overcome ‘writer’s block’? What have you done to improve your writing skills? How do you manage your time so that you find time for writing?”

A: Joan Carnosso RN, PhD(c), CCRN, Associate Professor, Nursing Department, Boise State University:

“I am new to authoring and writing for that matter. I am working on finishing my dissertation and it has been a struggle for me since I really never believed that I liked to write and I sure didn’t believe I was good at it. So I knew that I needed to do something to boost my confidence. I applied and got accepted to two workshops. One is Writing Across the Curriculum, and the other is the National Writing Project. Both of which take place in the summer. There is a great deal of reading and writing in both of these classes and much of the reading needed to be done before the projects start. So I just finished reading a GREAT book that I highly suggest to anyone. It is called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She is an author who writes about her experience with writing. She discusses all of the questions that you had. She suggests writing down things you want to write about. I started a journal (just a small notebook) and on one page have written down subjects that I could write about. My family, each one of my five children, mean girl syndrome, my childhood, my experiences with each one of my siblings. These are just examples, of course I would like to be a scholarly writer but first I must enhance my confidence with writing. So each morning I get up and I have files on my computer and I open up one and just start typing. I write at least 300 words doing that in a day. Then of course I need to spend time working on my dissertation. But let me tell you I am actually starting to enjoy writing. Every time I get the opportunity now to write I do. I have been writing letters to my friends, taking notes, journaling, writing every chance I get. I keep the little notebook with me and write down quotes I see or words I like. I write down the names of books I would like to read, etc. The National Writing Project and Lamotts book have been a huge influence on me.”

A: Andrew P. Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Holistic Education, Department of Special Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato:

“Too many articles never get submitted because the writer is trying to get it just right — Believe me, no matter what you submit, the reviewers will have something to say. Use them to fine tune your article.”