You are probably worried about being able to write high quality academic prose, to get it published, to write and publish enough of it, and so on.
You may look at my advice to write for 15 minutes a day and think that is never going to help you with that. What useful writing can you do in 15 minutes? How can you possibly do enough in that time? and so on.
The fact is, that if you don’t have a writing practice then quality, quantity and all the rest of it are impossible. You have to be writing.
So we start there.
Let’s go back to my yoga practice for a moment
In my previous post, I talked about starting to develop a home yoga practice using the principles I suggest to you for building a writing practice.
I started with the equivalent of learning to juggle by tossing one beanbag. My yoga teacher gave me 2 exercises, one for shoulders and one for hips. It takes me less than 15 minutes. I am lying on the floor. The movements are very small.
Really, it doesn’t look like much.
Although they look like not much … although I move my arms and legs very little … those poses are designed to strengthen the smaller muscles that stabilize my arms and legs in the joints and to increase my range of motion.
By focusing on small movements of small muscles, I build the core strength that means I won’t need to use my larger muscles (like my hip flexors) for things they really shouldn’t be doing. At some point, I’m going to be able to do much more with my hip flexors because they are only going to be helping me lift my legs, not trying to stabilize my pelvis, hold my leg in the hip socket and who knows what else while they lift my leg. (I’ve written about what it looks like after 3 months in another post.)
It’s the same for your writing practice
What you do in 15 minutes a day not only helps you develop the practice of sitting down and writing every day, it also helps you develop a practice of getting started, stopping and leaving breadcrumbs so it’s easier to start next time.
You learn what you can do in 15 minutes, a chunk of time you might otherwise never have thought to use for writing (thus making much more time for writing magically appear in your schedule).
Once you’ve established a habit and start incorporating longer writing sessions into your routine, you observe your focus and attention and learn how you can get the most out of various blocks of time. You learn what your optimum length for a writing session is. You learn what conditions are not conducive to writing so you don’t try to force yourself to write in those conditions no matter how much you have to do.
Then when you have a regular practice, you are able to focus on the actual writing instead of on how to stay in the chair, what to do while you are there, and so on. Your energy and attention can be focused on what you are writing.
But first, you need a practice.
I’ve put together some resources for a 15-min/day Academic Writing Challenge to help you get started. Try it.
This post was edited on June 18, 2015.