You have a writing practice. You don’t need the 15-minute challenge for yourself. However, you see the value of the challenge for some of your colleagues. You want to support them so they can be writing more, too.
They want your support. They may be a bit worried that you are judging them for not writing more, but they do want your support. Thank you for coming here for ideas on how best to support them.
The basic principles of the challenge
Making writing a habit is the foundation for everything else. You need to be writing before you can focus on what you are writing, how much you are writing, and how much your are publishing.
To build a new habit, you need to make it easy. 15 minutes is easy to find so that’s where we start. It’s enough. (Seriously, there is research that shows even this small amount is effective.)
This is an experiment. 15 minutes feels kind of pointless but until you try it you have no idea what you can do in that amount of time if done regularly. We’re not focusing on how much until several weeks have passed. And then only for information.
Writing is part of your job. It is thus legitimate to write during regular work hours in the office. Making that visible is a secondary objective of the challenge.
What works for one person won’t work for others. We all need to figure out what works best for us, even if that looks really weird to your colleagues.
Ways to support colleagues
The easiest thing for you to do is make writing more visible as a legitimate activity.
- Print out the door sign and use it yourself when you are writing in your office.
A4 Format (right click to “Save as…”)
US Letter Format (right click to “Save as…”)
- Respect the door sign when others are using it.
- Explain to students that writing is part of the job. Remind them that your colleague is available to seem them during office hours or by appointment.
- Encourage other colleagues to use the sign when they are writing.
Comment positively on the fact that your colleague is participating in the challenge. Avoid asking about how much your colleagues are writing. Focus instead on how many days a week they are managing or more general statements about how it’s going.
Ask your colleague what kind of support would be most helpful and then do what they ask, even if it feels like not much or not what you would offer. Avoid offering advice about what works for you unless asked. Even if it isn’t your intention that can feel like pressure. Or your colleague may be feeling overwhelmed with what they are already doing and not be ready to try anything else.
Encourage colleagues you know would like to write more but are struggling to find the time to try the challenge.
Thanks again. It is my hope that the 15-minute academic writing challenge will make a difference to the research culture of your department.