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Friday, September 09, 2005

Publishing And The Power of Accountability

One of the blogs I recently came across if one called The Program. It's just been added to the blogroll, and I'd recommend it to any academics in the audience.

In it's latest post, the author has collected a list of materials on being a more productive writer. While geared primarily towards academics, its advice is worthwhile for writers of all stripes. Here's the most compelling part:
  1. Write daily for 15 to 30 minutes. Many scholars believe that writing requires big blocks of time. They're wrong. Research shows that scholars who write daily publish far more than those who write in big blocks of time. The problem with big blocks of time is that they're hard to find. In contrast, when you write daily, you start writing immediately because you remember what you were writing about the day before. This leads to impressive production. In one study participants who wrote daily wrote only twice as many hours as those who wrote occasionally in big blocks of time but wrote or revised ten times as many pages (Boice 2000:144).
  2. Record time spent writing daily, share records weekly. Writing daily increases your productivity as a writer. But to write daily you will need to keep a daily record of your writing, and share those records with someone weekly. What difference does keeping records make? Robert Boice led a series of workshops for scholars who sought to improve their writing productivity. Boice stressed the importance of writing daily, keeping a record of the minutes spent on writing, and being accountable to someone weekly. Participants were divided into three groups: (a) The first group ("controls") did not change their writing habits, and continued to write occasionally in big blocks of time; in 1 year they wrote an average of 17 pages; (b) the second group wrote daily and kept a daily record; they averaged 64 pages; (c) the third group wrote daily, kept a daily record, and held themselves accountable to someone weekly; this group's average was 157 pages (Boice 1989:609).
Without records and someone to share them with it is too easy to convince yourself that you will write "tomorrow." But "tomorrow" never comes-or at least it doesn't come very often.
There's lots of other good advice - click here for the whole thing.

The second item is truly astounding - an almost ten-fold difference in productivity (157 pages vs. 17). As I read it, I realized that I need to get a "writing buddy" that I'm accountable to.

Then I thought, "I don't need a buddy, I've got a blog". I know that authors of personal finance blogs often open their finances up to their readers. I'm not all that comfortable with doing that (although hearing how we at the Unknown Household do things might be the Finance equivalent of the Jerry Springer Show - even though there's no dwarves involved, it'd at least make you feel better about your own circumstances). Instead, I'll do it with my writing. So, each week I'll give a short report on the daily time spent writing.

This should fit in well with my goal of getting up earlier. While other stuff got in the way for a while, I've been back on track since school started back up. Although I'm not there yet, my goal is to get up at 5:30 daily and work until 7:00. At that point, it's breakfast with the Unknown Son - our time for male bonding - talking about school, boogers, and whatever else is on his little mind.

Not bad - increased productivity, more to blog about (and talking with my son). Such a deal!

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