How do you feel when you think about writing?
In this article I’ll let you know what the keys are to positive writing experiences. Many PhD students have had little or no positive writing experiences, and because writing is one of the most important skills you need, it is very important that you experience writing as positive, and not as something difficult, hard and complicated…
How do you feel when you think about writing? When I ask this question when I’m teaching, generally negative feelings surface, such as:
– I get depressed when I think about writing
– I get stress
– I feel that I can’t do it
– I notice that I procrastinate when I have to write
– It seems that everyone knows what to do, and that I’m the only one who doesn’t
– I think if people read my text that they can see how stupid I am
– I do have ideas, but I seem not to be able to get them on paper
You’re not the only one who has that kind of feelings! Most writers – even those with a lot of experience – will suffer from an inner critic, who whispers about all kind of fears when they write. It may be worthwhile to find out what your biggest fear about writing is, so you can work in a more targeted manner towards a solution.
Luckily I’m not only hearing negative feelings, but there are also positive ones:
– Sometimes when I’m writing it comes across exactly as I meant or even better, that is fantastic!
– It’s great when I’m writing the conclusion that the whole text somehow clicks; I love it when that happens.
You may want to ask yourself when you feel good about your writing. What can you learn from those experiences?
The interesting thing is that research shows that there are four types of experiences, actually four keys to creating positive writing experiences. What are the four keys? Wendy Laura Belcher describes them as follows:
1. Successful academic writers write.
That may sound simple, but for many people it is not. Many PhD students have negative experiences with writing because they procrastinate; the positive experiences have to do with the actual writing. So make sure you write! Plan it, put it on your to do list. And if possible, make sure you write daily. Use free writing for that. Fifteen minutes a day is sufficient.
Writing is a bit like working out: it is difficult to do, but if you actually do it, you feel great afterwards.
2. Successful academic writers make their writing social
Writing is not something you should do on your own, that is just a myth. It helps you to make writing social and public. So: start a writing group, find someone to write an article with, meet someone and agree on writing for an hour, follow a writing course. The more you do those kinds of things, the better your writing experiences will become.
3. Successful academic writers do not give up, despite rejections
When you write, you get many rejections. That is inevitable. Journals will say no, supervisors will say no. But don’t let that stop you.
The difference between being published and not being published is perseverance. Whether your article is published or not, often has nothing to do with the quality of the article. Don’t be upset by rejection, keep in mind that it will happen, just make the revisions that are needed, based on the comments, but do not let it stop you. Keep submitting your articles, keep rewriting. The criticism is often not as bad as you think.
4. Successful academic writers follow their passion
If successful writers talk about their positive writing experiences, they often have to do with the fact that they have genuine interest in their subject. Those successful writers do not write for their supervisors, their colleagues or for a journal, but they focus on their own fascination. So follow your interest, don’t follow hypes.
So do you want to feel good whilst writing? Make sure you
– Actually write
– Make writing social, so don’t do everything on your own
– Continue, despite rejection
– Write about what really interests you.
Let me know how this works for you!
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