This is a question that comes up a lot in advice about academic writing, or any kind of writing really. And it came up during the December 2018 Planning Your Winter Semester class in the Academic Writing Studio. A lot of people encourage you to write every day. You may think that because I have created the 15 minute Academic Writing Challenge, that I also subscribe to this advice. However, my approach to advice is that you have to figure out what works for you. Everyone is different. You may need to experiment a bit.
I’ve edited the bit of the class recording for you to listen to. It’s less than 5 minutes.
Download a transcript: Download "Write Every Day" (transcript) (135 downloads)
The most important point is probably that the purpose of a small amount daily may be to keep the project alive in the back of your head so that when you have more time (e.g. a couple of hours once a week, or even a whole research day) you get back into it more quickly and feel like that longer session is really productive. I’ve said more about this and related issues in my Short Guide, Finding Time for Your Scholarly Writing so if you like what I say here and want to know more about how you can use full days, longer sessions, and short snatches of time to get your writing done consistently even during busy teaching terms, that might be your next port of call.
In the recording I also mention A Meeting With Your Writing. If you are struggling to protect time to write or you feel like you don’t get as much done on your research day as you’d like to, you might find A Meeting With Your Writing helpful. Having a scheduled time to write, knowing other people are also writing at the same time, being able to say “I have a meeting/conference call”, and having paid to be there all help you keep your commitment to write regularly. Even if Monday can’t be your research day, if you can come on Monday mornings the fact of having already written this week changes the way you feel about the balance between your writing and other work responsibilities.
If, having listened to the recording, you think that you’d like to try writing daily for just 15 minutes on days when you can’t find more time, the 15 minute Academic Writing Challenge page has more suggestions (no registration required). You can also use this recording to give your 15 minutes a beginning and an end (with 15 minutes of silence to write in the middle).
A version of this post was sent to the Academic Writing Studio newsletter list on 11 January 2018. It has been lightly edited.