Monday, March 18, 2013

Did you try the word count challenge?

Did you try the challenge this week? If you tried, but found yourself stuck or blocked, what got in the way? What happens when you internalize writing expectation? Do you encounter bits of perfectionism? Do sink under the weight of anxiety?

Do challenges like this push you to write a lot, to do whatever you need to to move forward? If they do, good for you!  Bottle what works, and use it to help you in the future.

If they do not, view your experiences with challenges such as this an opportunity to work on the psychosocial blocks to your  writing and publishing success. Try to see your weaknesses not in a shameful light, but as part of what it means to be human. Doing so will make them easier to work on. When we judge ourselves too severely, we tend to find ways of defending against them. Face them gently, and commit to working on them, one at a time.


  1. My greatest weakness is procrastination. I have lots of material I could use to put some papers together. Some consist of already analysed data, others are half-baked ideas with raw material requiring careful analysis of processing but I know it will produce some useful material.

    Challenges don't really help me or do it for me, the weird thing is I can wait until the last minute and then produce a report or paper before a deadline, actually quite often, but I can't seem to find a way of starting something well ahead of time and finish it well ahead of the deadline. I always procrastinate.

    I actually don't like to writing process and I hardly do revisions (maybe 1 maximum 2) before submitting them. What does give me a boost is the revision process after the reviewers' comments come in and the final boost is the acceptance of a paper. After that I feel fully energised for a couple of days but fall back into the old habit of procrastinating again.

    I know I could pull my self out of this but I don't seem to have the willpower to actually do so. Just like now, I have a full day available and am sufring the net, not even looking at a half-finished case review. I sometimes hate myself for that.

  2. I generally don't write over the weekends. I often think about doing so when I read your blog, but the reality is that my time is in demand just as much on the weekend as during the week these days, just for different reasons. I have gotten back into writing about 450-500 words a day every weekday now (in part thanks to reading your blog and also reminding myself what has worked for me in the past), but since I get home late enough that there isn't time for household projects in the evenings, the weekends are the only time left for that. I would like to add one weekend morning of writing, but it does not seem feasible currently.

    To the previous anonymous poster: we've all been there! The trick is to get yourself to write just a little bit every day. It is hard to get into the habit at first. I've done it in the past, but then dropped the habit after the dissertation. I then spent a couple of months "planning" to start doing that again, but not actually doing. Finally, one day, I just started writing. I started with a piece that was partially finished and has been written up as a conference paper. I had envisioned revising and adding more citations, but when it came down to it, the only way to get moving was to start from scratch. I used what I already had as reference, but started writing a fresh version. This enabled me to get some words on the page fast. I started out with 200 words a day for a couple of days, then 300 (not being too strict about the specific numbers, more about when I'd finished a thought/topic that seemed like a reasonable amount of writing). I then hovered around 400 for a while, but am now staying in the 450-500 range without much effort. The process of writing really gets me thinking about things even deeper than before. I'm always surprised when this happens, but it does. In this case, what I thought was easily one, fully contained article has turned it a project that I'm now trying to decide whether to split among several articles or to turn into a book.

    The key is to view this writing as a first draft (or even a zero draft), which will be edited later. Don't stop to mess with prose or start looking up articles. Save those things for after you've written however many hundreds of words you plan to write. I hope that there will be something useful to you in what I've said.

  3. To the previous anonymous, thanks for your replies. Yes, there's something in there but I am just too stuck in my ways at the moment to attempt even a small change. The idea of forcing myself to write 500+ words a day is just not me. I am not that disciplined. The other problem is that while I understand what you are saying with regards to looking up references etc later and just write, I can't do that, I absolutely hate if I have something down on paper and I know the reference may be somewhere in a big pile of papers in another room, I just have to get it and make sure I have it and re-read it again etc. Seems like some form of OCD. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for your post. I am actually going to write about a few things you write i a few days. I am so glad people are responding to each other!