On Writing

Given that I’ve been blogging for nearly three years – over 120 posts – and wrote many academic papers before that, I thought I’d share some of my tips on writing productivity and style. This first post is on productivity.


1. Blogging – I know this one’s not very shocking, but blogging has allowed me to produce work in stages, sometimes very short pieces that I combine into longer ones. I have a goal of blog-to-book, since I write about few enough topics I figure eventually Iʻll have enough in one or two topics for book-length manuscripts. Blogging also allows me to store ideas in the form of drafts, while I collect citations or ideas to make a “complete” post. Here’s my draft “bin” – which is also a sneak preview of upcoming posts:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.55.09 AM

They say about blogging that “never have so many said so much to so few,” but in my case it’s worked.

2. Emailing myself – Ideas come to me everywhere, and with a smartphone, I can type them up and send them to myself for use when Iʻm at my computer.

3. Dictation – For my dissertation, I had at various times a tape recorder and a digital recorder in my car. I dictated ideas into them and typed them up later. Now, with Dragon Dictate, you can read your text right into your iPhone and email that to yourself. I’ve listened to books on tape or CD since 1990 and it frees up a huge amount of time for “reading” that wouldn’t otherwise be available – while running, driving or doing dishes. I’ve started to use this same driving time for writing.

4. Wake up early – Almost everyone knows that this is the key to writing productivity, but so few people use it. The way I finished my dissertation (with two, going on three kids, a dog, a full-time job and a commute) was to wake up at 4AM, 5AM on weekends. I figured no one – not even the dog – would bother me between 4 and 5:15, and I was right. More importantly, making writing the first thing you do everyday does two things. It sends a powerful message to your brain that writing is your top priority and it starts you on a streak. If I got that first hour in, Iʻd try to find a second and a third hour, and usually Iʻd succeed. I ended up averaging about 2 and a half hours per day, which I knew would be enough. One more thing on this point: I had a can of ice coffee on my bed stand.

1 Comment

Filed under literature, Uncategorized

One response to “On Writing

  1. Thanks Umi, found this helpful since I need to do some writing within the next 3 months! Mahalo!


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