I had a query via the contact form on my website that said, in response to the prompt “What’s on your mind?”,
not much need help to figure out!
If that isn’t the tip of an iceberg I don’t know what is. Both for the person who sent the email and in the sense that if one person contacted me to say that, how many others are thinking just that and haven’t written it in the contact form.
I replied to ask for more information and discovered that this person is having trouble concentrating, has been finding it impossible to write for the past couple of years, and is not even sure how to begin to find their way back.
You are not alone
I had someone contact me last year for help getting back to writing after many years. As I said, the very tip of a very large iceberg.
This is one reason I created the 15 minute Academic Writing Challenge.
15 minutes doesn’t sound like much and when you haven’t been writing at all, that’s exactly what’s attractive about it.
You can find 15 minutes. Today. Tomorrow. Next week.
You can’t do much in 15 minutes but that’s okay.
Make it a rigorous experiment
15 minutes is not a trick to get you to write more. It is an experiment.
You haven’t been writing at all. This semester you are going to experiment with writing for 15 minutes a day and only 15 minutes a day.
You need to stick to only 15 minutes to learn more about what is possible:
- How much can you produce if you only write 15 minutes per day?
- What kind of writing can you do in 15 minutes per day?
Do not add other goals!
Your goal is to start writing again. That’s it. That’s enough.
What you write in that time doesn’t have to become anything. It isn’t an article. It isn’t a book. It is just writing.
You can make it writing about your specialist area. But beyond that, no limits.
- notes on something you read
- thoughts you’ve been thinking
- explore an idea in writing
- respond to a comment someone made
- rant about why [name redacted]’s argument is so crap
- write about why [name redacted]’s work is so bloody brilliant
Some days you can even write about why it is so ridiculous to write for only 15 minutes a day. If you have to do that every day for weeks, go right ahead. I have faith that even you will run out of things to say on that topic and get sick of hearing it. (You can even contact me [link] to tell me how long it lasted if you like.)
Do this for 1 semester
Or the rest of this semester. Every time you miss a day, just start again. You have not failed. When you get to the end of the semester you can evaluate how it worked and make decisions about what to do next semester.
For now, just focus on this semester and your experiment with writing for 15 minutes a day.
I’ve created some resources to help you. They are free. (Really free. Not even an email address.)
- a poster for your door
- a form (and an app recommendation) to keep track
- suggestions for getting support
Click on the image or go to 15 Minute Academic Writing Challenge