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Why logging your writing is so powerful and how to do it

Have you ever noticed that pretty much any advice related to making progress suggests the same idea?

Track your progress.

  • If you want to lose weight, track your daily calories and weekly weight.
  • If you want to reach a financial goal, track your expenses.
    So, why shouldn’t we do the same when it comes to our academic writing?
  • If you want to finish your dissertation, grant proposal, manuscript, or book, track your writing.

A Question For You

Do you track your writing?

Some people track the number of pages they write. Others track the number of minutes they write.

If you already track your writing and have a system that works, then stick to it! You might still want to read on to validate what you are doing and/or give you possible new ideas and tools.

If you don’t currently track your writing and/or if this is the first time you hear about this idea, then definitely read on!

The Writing Log

In the world of academic writing, I first learned about tracking my writing through using a writing log. I learned that logging was a way to track my writing progress.

I was immediately “smitten” by the idea for three reasons:

  1. My writing mentor, Dr. Patricia Goodson, shared research on how powerful logging was in helping faculty increase their writing productivity.
  2. My writing buddy, Dr. Jennifer Travis, created a super helpful template in Excel for me to log my writing. I used this template through my entire formal academic career (i.e., dissertating through getting tenure). You can download a version of it here.
  3. When I started logging as a graduate student, I learned something: I was reading, but I was not writing. Logging what I was writing – or, in this case, NOT writing – helped me “see” what I needed to realize to correct myself and start and finish my dissertation.

How To Log

I share the above because I want you to experience the power of logging to help you with your academic writing.

Within this article, I’ve given you the:

Why of logging,

an illustration of how logging helped me,

and access to a writing log.

It’s harder to give you the “how” of logging in writing.

I have a 4-minute video that illustrates the HOW (you can start at the 2-minute mark).


In closing, I want to emphasize an important point:

The writing log is not magic.

It only works if you log your writing regularly. It also works best if you use it within a system of writing community and accountability.

For now, I challenge you to check out the writing log template and video and try it out. Then, email me how it went at I’d love to hear!

Margarita HuertaDr. Margarita Huerta’s passion is to help aspiring, established, and everything-in-between academics find joy, community, and success in their careers. With over 20 years of higher education experience, Dr. Huerta founded Real Academics to do just this.