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Tips for anxious writers: Use exploratory writing

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An anxious writer once told me “I made some notes and organized my thoughts but didn’t get any writing done.” She was feeling anxiety, shame, and a sense of failure about not adding to her manuscript. But that narrow view of what counts as “writing,” doesn’t recognize the value of some activities that are valuable parts of the writing process. In the previous post, I argued that all types of writing—email to friends, social media posts, etc.—can contribute to your skill as a writer. In this post, I’m following a related idea—another idea about what does and does not count as “writing” and what does (or does not) help you make progress on a manuscript. You can do important academic work without adding a single word to a manuscript if you are using writing as a tool to explore ideas.

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