How To Write 1000 Words A Day

| April 29, 2011

As we approach the end of the semester, you may be wondering: “How on earth am I going to find a way to write X pages of papers before Y?!,” where X is some obscenely large number and where Y is some extremely close date. Happily, however, I have found a new resource for you: The Thesis Whisperer, a group blog devoted to grad student and academic issues.

Perhaps the best post I’ve seen yet on The Thesis Whisperer is this one: How To Write 1000 Words A Day. While I *strongly* recommend reading the entire post, here are the main tips, condensed:

  1. Spend less time at your desk (chair sitting does not equal productivity)
  2. Remember the two hour rule (you probably only have about two productive writing hours in you per day and they are likely to be in the morning; make the most of them)
  3. Start in the middle (don’t worry about introductions, conclusions, or transitions until the rewriting phrase; just write whatever chunks of the paper are coming to you)
  4. Write as fast as you can, not as well as you can (thinking too much will overly slow down the writing process; since you will need to rewrite and edit anyway, focus on furiously producing words at first)
  5. Leave it to rest… then re-write (you will need to edit thoroughly, but don’t try to do it right away; wait at least a few hours before returning to writing).

I have been dipping a toe into this style of writing recently, and I think the single most important of these tips is #1. If you’re anything like me, then you are easily able to sit at your desk, at the coffee shop, or in the library for hours and hours and hours on end, “writing.” It looks like working, feels like working, and tires you out like working, but it’s rare that I ever have much to show for one of these marathon “writing”/sitting sessions. Instead, you might try setting a timer for 15 minutes and writing non-stop until it goes off, and then taking a brief break. Four or five concentrated writing periods may actually produce more good material than a couple of hours of aimless blank-screen-staring/Facebooking/internet surfing.

Good luck on final papers! You can also find The Thesis Whisperer on Twitter and Facebook.