The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research

The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your researchIn the first two articles of this series, we explored The What: Defining a research project and The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment. In this article, we are focused on The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research. Discussion from this TweetChat event focused on accurately estimating the amount of time necessary for completing writing projects and strategies to better manage the time commitments during the writing project.

Q1/1a: Do you regularly track the time spent on research efforts? When planning a research project, do you tend to accurately predict, overestimate, or underestimate the time required? [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 9, 2018

"You can't think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block." ~John RogersJohn Rogers said, “You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” The ways in which we approach our academic writing impact the mindset that drives progress and success. In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we have found several suggestions of ways to improve your writing practice that may just get you through your next “thinking block”.

First, we found examples of habits leading to writing productivity and satisfaction, and a connection between teaching, research, and writing. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: March 16, 2018

"I haven't finished writing my book, but it's on top of my list" ~Celeste Alexander“I haven’t finished writing my book, but it’s on top of my list” says Celeste Alexander. If you’re struggling with finishing a writing project, our first couple articles in this week’s collection of posts from around the web might help you find the means to move forward. Of course, according to our third article choice, “you should be writing!” and the shame that accompanies this rebuke are worthy of consideration as well.

In addition, we have found insight into word choice, the use of preprints in citations, theoretical frameworks, and peer review processes to support your writing efforts. Finally we round out our collection this week with two service platforms: DeepDyve and Skyepack that pursuer ways to reduce costs of journal articles and educational materials. Wherever your writing projects take you this week, we hope you feel a sense of accomplishment, even if you haven’t “finished”. [Read more…]

Timesaving tech tip: Customize and create styles for consistent, instant document formatting

I’ve got my own writing style. I’m sure you do too. Regardless, you likely have editors, publishers, and/or teachers who insist on specific style requirements that can be quite tedious and time-consuming to apply on a document by document basis.

Timesaving tip: Customize and create styles for consistent and instant formatting. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: July 31, 2015

What tricks or strategies do you use to get yourselfWriting is like a sport-you only get better if you practice. -Rick Riordan started and to get the words flowing? For me, on days when I need an extra push of motivation, I retreat to my favorite local coffee shop where there is nothing there to distract me. Words, sentences, and entire pieces are also always sure to form in my head while jogging or biking. When finally I return home the words never quite flow as eloquently onto the page as they did in my mind during that bike ride, but at least I have a starting place and an idea for what I want to write or how I want to write it. [Read more…]

100+ Textbook and academic writing presentations for your summer inspiration

presentationsondemandAs summer writing season begins for many of you, I encourage you to check out TAA’s library of 100+ textbook and academic writing presentations on demand for inspiration and encouragement. Free for members! Not a member? Join TAA today[Read more…]

10 Habits of highly productive writers

Hands on computer typing1) They reject the notion of “writer’s block” the way others shun gluten. Some people are truly unable to tolerate that vilified protein, but many more leap after a culprit to explain their dyspepsia or inability to refrain from carby deliciosity. Maybe cutting out a big food group makes it easier to stick to a diet than being careful about portion sizes of crusty bread and pasta puttanesca. Certainly there’s a comfort in diagnosis, relief in the idea that suffering can be linked to a thing that others also get. Likewise, it’s a lot easier to say that the muse has gone AWOL than to admit that writing is hard and requires discipline and sacrifice. [Read more…]

9 Incredibly useful productivity apps for writers

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you, apps in the palm of hand6 Tips for finding writing time. Yet, even if you find the time to write, how can you be sure to be productive and actually get words down on your page? The nine apps below will help you not only get words down on the page, but also keep your writing projects organized, track how long and how much writing you accomplished, and overall help you be a more productive writer.

In no particular order, here are nine incredibly useful productivity apps for writers: [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: April 3, 2015

Can you believe it is already April"Write 1000 wrods a day, five days a week, before you do anything else. If you do it first thing in the morning, then you won't get distracted by all the things that tempt you not to write." -Lisa See and Easter is already this Sunday?! I love the warmer weather and the ability to sit on my deck and write. This week’s most useful posts have two sort of unintentional themes: peer reviews and productivity. There is also a sprinkling of other posts worthy of your time. One of my favorite posts this week is, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers, Courtesy of Alexis Landau.

Speaking of productivity, do you like to write first thing in the morning before anything else so you don’t get distracted but rather get things accomplished as Lisa See suggests in the quote I choose for this week? If you could give one tip for being productive, what would it be? Share it with me in the comments below.

Happy writing! [Read more…]

How to maximize your productivity

John Soares

“Find the most efficient pattern of getting the work done for a project and then repeat that pattern,” said John Soares, author of Intelligent Productivity for Freelance Writers. “The brain gets accustomed to routines and you’ll find that there are some things you will start doing automatically (and faster) once the routines kick in.”

Writing productivity experts Jayne London and John Soares urge writers to follow a handful of simple and effective steps, such as breaking projects into small chunks, setting deadlines, and minimizing interruptions, in order to maximize productivity.

London is an associate coach for Academic Ladder, a company that focuses on dissertation, academic career, and tenure coaching. She and her colleagues base their productivity training on research that demonstrates that, despite what many in academia may think, the most productive academic writers are often those who write in short but regular sessions.

“We help people to understand that they can get a lot done in 30 minutes,” London said. “Staying engaged with one’s work on a consistent basis is what is most important. That’s when good writing happens.”

In order to write productively in small chunks of time, London suggests breaking projects down into small, manageable pieces that can be completed quickly. Writing in short bursts also requires careful planning. “At the end of each of your writing sessions, you need to make a specific plan for what you’re going to do in the next session,” London said. “If you only have 10 or 15 minutes to write, you need to know exactly what you’re going to work on.”

London also recommends freewriting first and revising later rather than trying to polish ideas as they arise: “We emphasize that you first have to articulate your ideas to yourself and then go back and articulate them so others can understand.”

Another aspect of productive writing is replacing any negative self talk with positive thinking. Negative self talk “really makes writing a very depressing activity and we’re not able to get to our best work if that’s what we’re saying to ourselves,” London said.

Soares, a highly successful textbook supplements writer, blogger, and author of Intelligent Productivity for Freelance Writers, recommends that writers develop routines for their work. “Find the most efficient pattern of getting the work done for a project and then repeat that pattern,” he said. “The brain gets accustomed to routines and you’ll find that there are some things you will start doing automatically (and faster) once the routines kick in.”

He also suggests setting a deadline for each part of a project to motivate oneself to finish the work within a certain schedule.

Many academic writers need to read other materials before they write, and Soares recommends learning to speed read in order to minimize the amount of time spent reading in preparation for writing.

Another major part of being a productive writer is capturing ideas before they slip away. Soares uses a digital recorder to keep track of ideas he gets while he is away from his computer and listens to them later. “It’s crucial that you review your ideas and decide which ones you will implement,” said Soares. He goes through this process weekly.

In addition, it is vital for writers to back up their files regularly to avoid losing their work. “Do this on a daily basis,” Soares advised, “and it’s better to do it more frequently, like every couple of hours or so.” This practice ensures that writers won’t lose valuable time having to rewrite lost documents.

Finally, both London and Soares stress the importance of minimizing interruptions during a writing session. “Whenever something distracts you from your writing, your concentration is broken and you lose time as your mind tries to recover that productive state you were in,” Soares said. This means writing must be a top priority in order to achieve maximum productivity. “If writing is important to you, you have to schedule time for it and protect the time you set aside to write,” London said. “That might mean closing your door, turning off the internet, shutting down email, etc.”

To learn more tips from London and Soares about maximizing your productivity as an academic writer, visit and