Making time for academic writing

Malini DevadasCoaching

Picture of clock

Sorry to be blunt, but there’s no getting around it — writing, especially academic writing, takes time.

I say this as the classic procrastinator type, who likes to see just how late I can leave something before the panic sets in, and then prove how fast I can churn out some words. This is not an advisable strategy if you want to get your grant funded or your thesis passed without revisions. Yet I see it happen so often with my academic writing clients.

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at some solutions.

  • Find the time — I know it’s difficult; however, no-one else but you can make your writing a priority. I recommend putting aside some writing time each week and blocking it out in your diary. That way, you commit to that writing time and others know you are not available to attend meetings, respond to emails or manage crises. 
  • Manage the time — Some people can sit and write for hours on end. OK, I haven’t actually met any of them, but I’m sure they’re out there. Most of us prefer to work in short bursts. Also, most of us find the internet a huge source of distractions. So, set your timer, turn off email and social media and focus on the job at hand.
  • Make yourself accountable — Find an ‘academic writing buddy’ and let them know what you’re going to work on each week. Then report back. My top tip is to find a buddy who you are secretly a little bit scared of … yep, I’m advocating a shaming strategy here!

So there you have it: three strategies to get you started with your academic writing. Let me know what has (and hasn’t) worked for you when you’ve wanted to make better use of your writing time.