How to actually complete your writing projects: One bite at a time

elephantIn her 2018 TAA Conference presentation, “Hunks, Chunks, & Bites: Plan Writing Projects So You Actually Complete Them!”, Meggin McIntosh shared some practical advice on tackling projects in a way that gets them done.

According to McIntosh, academics have between 20 and 50+ writing projects at any given time, but “people don’t do projects.” Projects can be broken into hunks, but you don’t do hunks. Hunks can be broken into chunks, but you don’t do chunks. Chunks can be broken into bites. You do bites! Here’s how.

When exploring a large project, such as the actual submission of an article to a journal or the writing of a book, the first step is to identify the hunks. Hunks are the major pieces of the project that lead to the overall goal. In the case of a journal article submission, McIntosh says your hunks may be something like:

  • Decide which part of my research is the focus for the article
  • Determine journal(s) to target
  • Block the time to write
  • Draft the article
  • Get feedback on draft

But…you don’t do hunks!

In order to get to the manageable bite-sized level that gets your project completed, the next step is to break each hunk into a chunk. For example, drafting the article might be broken into the following chunks:

  • Determine structure
  • Find all pertinent notes
  • Get a coach for accountability
  • Mindmap the article
  • Update references

But…you don’t do chunks!

So, the last step is to break each chunk into bites. Bites are manageable tasks & activities that can be done by one person in 5-55 minutes. These bites – NOT the chunks, NOT the hunks, and certainly NOT the project – are what go on your to-do list. And one bite at a time, you will actually complete your writing projects!

Meggin offers a TAA workshop on this topic titled, “Hunks, Chunks, and Bites: Managing Your Small and Large Projects”. Learn more about how to schedule this workshop at your institution today.


Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.