Graham has a terrific post up on how to write productively that is well worth the read for any struggling grad students or academics. While the entire post is great, I think a couple of his points are particularly valuable as they have to do with the psychology and sociology of writing. This latter dimension of writing might come as a surprise as we so often think of writing as a private affair, but just as science is a collective activity and scientists are the product of collective action (i.e., the idea of the lone scientist creating out of his sovereign genius is a myth), so too is it the case with writing. [...]
Productivity is sociological or collective in the sense that the more your reputation grows the more work you’re asked to do. Since the publication of Difference and Givenness and the rise of this blog, I have gotten more and more invitations to write articles and give presentations every year. It is not that I set out to write four or five articles a year, but rather people approach me asking if I would like to contribute to their project. Like an idiot I accept and then have to rush about doing all sorts of work to avoid [hopefully] disappointing those who have made the request. As a result of doing this work more opportunities emerge and things snowball from there. Productivity is not so much the result of a solitary individual as it is the result of a collective assemblage.
I’d like to close with two further remarks in relation to Graham’s post. First, the more you write the more you will write. This sounds like an idiotic tautology, but the point isn’t that if you write more you’ll write more. Rather, the point is that thought and writing grow It is very difficult to write a lot if you don’t write at all. However, if writing becomes a part of your daily routine, this writing will generate further concepts and ideas, which will, in turn, become the ground of yet other ideas. The activity of inscription allows thought to come into being. As you write the more you write the less painful this experience will become, the more your plant will grow.
Second, and above all, get involved! It astonishes me that there are so many graduate students and beginning academics that don’t blog or participate on the internet. I can appreciate the anxiety involved in approaching another academic out of the blue at a conference (say at the Smokers at the APA). However, with the net you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can blog anonymously, thereby protecting yourself from the danger of your production hurting you professionally. However, through blogging and participating on blogs you also create the opportunity to develop all sorts of relations to other thinkers that create opportunities for you and which enhance your thought.
I have been participating on the net in one form or another for over ten years now and I can confidently say that nothing has been more productive for my thought and more valuable professionally than my engagement with others in this medium. Through encountering others whether on the old Deleuze list, the Lacan list, or on this blog I have constantly been placed in a position where I have to respond. In responding my thought refines itself and leads to other thoughts. Additionally I have landed all sorts of opportunities for publication and conferences. Blogging isn’t simply a pleasant diversion– indeed it’s often unpleasant –but a professional necessity. Don’t allow fear of the big Other to prevent you from getting involved with other academics.
Most bloggers know the importance of writing, but, to actually write as much as we would like can be difficult. It is not just about writing for our own blog; we should also try to occasionally write for other blogs or ezines. The more we can write, the more we can help our blog to grow. These are some of the common Stumbling blocks to writing and what we can do to overcome them:
1. Procrastination. Procrastination is easy on the internet. We have countless RSS feeds to read, forums to visit, blogs to comment on, youtube videos to watch…, the list is endless. If we are not careful hours can pass by and we haven’t actually achieved anything. If you find yourself procrastinating, you are not alone, but you do need to try and keep it under control.
- Give writing the highest priority. Write an article, then allow yourself a bit of surfing. Don’t do it the other way round.
- Set time aside for writing. E.g: Mondays 9-11am, I set aside only for writing.
- Get away from the internet. My most productive writing periods are usually in airport lounges or on trains...
- Rule#1 - Write regularly. I'll try to at least start a draft whenever I can and post right away.
- Rule#2 - Be selective about what gets written.I don't expect I'd benefit from recording useless trivia.
- Rule#3 - Read other blogs, and post comments. If I just wanted to keep a diary, I wouldn't do it on the internet. The thing that makes blogging so interesting is the whole aspect of interactivity. That's enough rules to start with. http://daedalux.blogspot.com/2004/11/blog-rules.html