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Writing Productivity

A question I am frequently asked as a writing coach is how to write productively. While I can answer that question in numerous ways, I want to focus my response on those working to finish their dissertation, thesis or independent writing project as a final requirement for earning an advanced degree.

The mistake many scholars at this stage make is fundamental: they do not capture the time they have to write; thus, they fail to establish a writing schedule. This mistake is well understood because prior to this final requirement, the educational process has been structured with classes, syllabi, assignments and faculty members establishing deadlines.

However, once entering the final stage of earning an advanced degree, you lose the structure, accountability and group support of the classroom environment. This transition to educational independence begins when you complete coursework and prepare for qualifying/comprehensive exams. Though you must manage yourself, you have a clear date to take the exams and may have questions to guide you.

Once you start to write a dissertation, thesis or final writing project, you primarily work alone with minimal guidance (unless you have a rockstar chair/advisor). Therefore, you must grow as a scholar by doing the following:

  • Establish a writing schedule (commit to working a minimum amount of time weekly, at least the number of credit hours you took during coursework)

  • Make yourself inaccessible during this dedicated time (just as if you were physically in class)

  • Gain accountability (REAL accountability)

  • Work from the end back (end goal, end date, etc.) to formulate a plan

  • Pursue regular communication with chair/advisor

While this list isn’t all encompassing, it will help you gain much of the structure, guidance and accountability that has allowed you to be successful in past your educational endeavors. Dr. V

Writing Coach - Editor - Consultant

Cultivating tip at a time!

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