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From PhD to Life

More writing in 2014


What’s your New Year’s resolution? If you’ve made one that’s work-related, chances are good that it’s to write more. That’s my goal for this year, too.

I want to write every day, and produce more blog posts and pieces for publication elsewhere. Since mid-November I’ve been published by the Globe & Mail, Academic Matters, and in the ebook Moving On: Essays on the Aftermath of Leaving Academia, and I want to continue to spread the word about all things PhDs in 2014. I need to do this if I’m to accomplish my professional goals. I know that writing also enhances my personal well-being. The trouble is, writing is hard and producing writing that’s fit for reading is time consuming.

I know from experience that the only way I’ll ever produce good writing is if I produce a lot of bad writing along the way. I also know that having a writing habit is key to ensuring I actually get words on the page characters on the screen. Here’s what works for me:

One important practice I’m recommitting to this year is my daily morning freewrite. I do this first thing, before I get distracted by the demands of the day. Freewriting benefits me in several ways. Depending on the day, it helps me get focused on tasks that lay ahead, reminds me of where I’m headed, gets me thinking through ideas, and sometimes directly leads to writing for publication. I freewrite for 15 minutes: long enough to get my creative juices flowing, yet not long enough that I’ll be tempted to skip it to attend to more pressing (or fun) work.

Sometimes, freewriting quickly turns into something resembling real writing. Most often, it doesn’t, and that’s where the second practice comes in: making time during my working hours to write. During these sessions, I might produce very little, but I will move forward my writing projects. The only way I can get the results I’m after is by turning freewriting and working on writing projects into daily and weekly priorities. (This blog post was brought to you by both practices, by the way.)

I’m resolved!

How about you? How do you get your writing done?

Jennifer Polk
Jennifer Polk is a career coach and entrepreneur. She earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto in 2012. For more information and resources, check out her website:
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