Last year I resolved to spend 30 minutes a day writing scholarly papers. It’s been a year and I thought I’d give you an update on the “project” of devoting time to writing.
I kept up writing 30 minutes a day on my own papers through April. During this time I completed two manuscripts and made it over halfway through a third. I was also keeping up with other people’s papers on which I was a coauthor, providing timely feedback to the main author. It was working out very well for me.
For some reason, in the summer progress on my first-author papers slowed to a sporadic crawl. My paper time became limited to only shepherding my submitted papers through to publication and helping others get papers submitted. I think I was pretty good at keeping close to 30 minutes a day, on average, but it was not consistent and it was only rarely invested on writing towards a first-author manuscript.
I can see several reasons for this stagnation. The summer is a time with extra travel, disrupting the regular class-driven routine of the academic term. The summer is also a time for proposals, and I wrote many words towards those documents. The summer is also the season when students have more time to progress towards completion of manuscripts, and more of my “paper time” was taken up by being an active and helpful coauthor.
The disconcerting reality is that the trend from the summer continued through the fall semester. Instead of getting back into a routine of regularly writing towards papers 30 minutes a day, I continued with the rare and sporadic spurts on first-author manuscripts. There were still a lot of coauthor papers coming through, as well as a number of proposals that were written and submitted in the fall.
Here in 2016, I have rededicated myself to the resolution and so far I am keeping it up with it. I have one paper draft completed and two others rapidly approaching complete drafts. A large paper on which I am second author with significant writing duties is also progressing well. I hope to have all of these done in the weeks ahead.
I will tell you, though, that it’s hard to keep this going. It takes a dedication to making this time a priority each day. Otherwise, it is easy to kick it off the daily schedule and let other tasks fill the time. I hope that I can maintain the writing momentum past the end of the term.
Here’s some Charles Schultz to motivate us all to greatness:
You, go, Snoopy!
Just for completeness, here are my stats for 2015: I wrote 2 first author papers in 2015 and saw them all the way through to acceptance (one in Annales Geophysicae, another in an AGU Monograph). I was coauthor on many others: 13 in print in 2015, 4 more in press, plus 6 more submitted. That’s a pretty full year of writing. I’ll take it.