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Writing Tips – Writing and churning out high-quality work can be challenging. More so, if you are a researcher, investigative journalist, or long-form writer (well, a researcher is all of it). Add deadlines to it and it can become the uphill climb into the productivity death zone.
Given these constraints, there are two demons that researchers wrestle with almost all the time –
Demon 1 I don’t have enough time –
With so much to do and so little time, the feeling of running and not reaching anywhere can become second nature.
Demon 2 I wish I had more good ideas
With the pressure to churn out paradigm-shifting work, we all struggle to get our ‘Eureka Moments.’
Here is what I learned while I was in my Ph.D. (I dropped out of it), and from my writing career (I do write every day).
Habit 1- Writing Tips
Yes. The advice to read more is simple, evident, and cliche, but few people still read.
You cannot churn out great work if you are not consuming great work.
The habit of reading works two ways; one, it makes you learn from the masters how to say what needs to be said, and two, it makes you sit and meditate on the ideas.
Beware – The superficial reading or skimming through it may not help and risk your reputation and growth.
Habit 2 – Writing Tips
Jotting down ideas as and when they come.
Ideas can come anywhere (and they do visit us when we are at awkward places).
This can be while we are in bed, outdoors, sipping a coffee, on the run, in the shower, or while traveling, to name a few.
While relying on one’s memory for quite a few things is good, ideas should not be one of those things (for they almost always fade away).
The most potent way to save them from eroding into the ether is to jot them down.
You can use a paper and pen (smart people do) or use a device (explore Evernote), but do it anyway.
The only way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas.
Habit 3 – Writing Tips
Having a writing routine in place.
Whether you are busy writing a dense research paper or a novel,
Whether you aspire to become a columnist or a journalist, nothing more powerful than a writing routine in place.
Even if you are old school and believe in the muse (I do), you got to be working for the mouse who visits only the author when they are writing.
Stephen King writes every day; maybe this is why he churns out bestsellers after bestsellers.
Talking of academics, Adam Grant takes a semester off every year for writing and research (and he is an accomplished one at that).
You can start with a very modest means and in the mornings (preferably, for you will be too tired to write if you schedule it later in the day.
This can lead to skipping sessions or churning out banal work.
After all, there is some merit in putting ‘First Things First’ (thanks Stephen Covey).
The crux is – make time for writing.
Habit 4 – Writing Tips
Value your energy and time (uptime and downtime).
Your energy is precious.
You can use your energy to learn, read, write and churn out the good stuff, or you can use it to party, binge watch TV, and eat unhealthily.
Be OK with switching off your phone if your work demands that,
Go invisible if that helps you get more done.
Be mindful of your energy and time.
Being mindful also means that you schedule your most critical tasks for the most productive parts of your day and be there fully.
Bonus – Go for long walks, do whatever helps you reduce brain fog, and be OK with doing nothing.
Is this all?
But this is something you can start with and make serious progress.
(To be continued)
PS: I need to go off to another piece.
You can read the following books to get your creative juices flowing and motivation coming in –
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
On Writing by Stephen King.
| Hemant Sharma for Inkpothub Blog | October 2021 | Blog 2 |