I love Dr Inger Mewburn‘s The Thesis Whisperer blog. When I was doing my PhD there was nothing like it, and although it tends to focus on thesis writing I think it’s equally relevant for early career academics who still have a lot of reading, writing and publishing to get done.
Take this excellent advice on how to read like a mongrel:
“Reading like a mongrel means you forget about chapter order, reading the introduction or checklists to help you do proper ‘critical reading’. You scan the text rapidly, use indexes, the search function, Google books or whatever and go straight for the bit that you absolutely have to know and leave the rest for later. It isn’t pretty, but it works. I think the key to reading like a mongrel lies in knowing what it is you need to find out…When I am feeling overwhelmed I try to identify the exact problem I am trying to solve, or the missing information I need to find, and write it down in a sentence. I put the sentence on a post it on my computer monitor so I don’t forget. This is surprisingly effective at keeping me focussed.”
Step one: spend less time at your desk
“If you give yourself the whole day to write, you will spend the whole day writing.”
Step Two: remember the two hour rule
“[M]ost people only have about two really good, creative writing hours in a day…So writing new stuff should be almost the first thing you do when you sit down to your desk.”
Step Three: start in the middle
“Once you have planted the seed, just start adding on words around and over it – this builds a chunk. Don’t worry about where it fits yet – that’s a rewriting problem.”
Step Four: Write as fast as you can, not as well as you can
“The surest way to slow the process is to worry too much about whether your thinking is any good. So give yourself permission to write badly.”
Step Five: leave it to rest… then re-write
“Carving off the excess crap in the editing process will reveal the 1000 words of beautiful substantive text you are after.”
And this wonderful prezi on how to Write that journal article in 7 days:
Excellent stuff – thanks Inger!