Timed Writing

The best tip we can give to any dissertator is simply this: Time your writing. 

All you have to do is find a simple timer. It can be an egg timer, but we prefer downloading an app to your desktop like one of these. Don’t use your cell phone! In fact, try to keep your phone off and in the other room to avoid distractions.

Set your timer for 30 to 45 minutes.

Open your document, start your timer, and write.
Write! Write like the wind!

Stay in your document until the timer goes off.
Don’t leave the page for anything. Can’t think of the date that the atom was discovered? Put in a big blank space, or write DATE THAT THE ATOM WAS DISCOVERED in all caps and keep going. (Dr. Diana Glyer calls this using space holders.) When the timer goes off, stop!

If you’ve only scheduled 45 minutes of writing today, go on with your day and feel good about yourself. If this is a longer session, set your timer for ten to fifteen minutes and take a stroll or get a snack (of course, your ideas will still be brewing during this time, but you’ll avoid muscle atrophy.) When the timer goes off, set it again, and get back into your document.

For many, this technique is a way to plop down large, messy clumps of clay, which you will later come back to and revise. It is also a way to stay focused on one task, like editing your introduction, for a solid period. Try it!