Manuscript writing: Starting projects / Writer's blockHere are some techniques I use to start projects and get out of writers block:
- Get out of writers block it using Zero draft writing - basically write everything you can think of, as quickly as you can, as often as you can, without deleting anything. See Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day, by Joan Bolker https://www.margaretedits.com/2015/04/14/writing-a-zero-draft/
- Use a whiteboard to plot your ideas, question, new directions and sketch out the arc of the project
- If you feel like you aren't making progress each day, remember to mark how much time you spend doing things, and just write out what your thought process was
- When you get to the tough parts of a project, write everything out, then do things one step at a time.
- take frequent breaks
- choose a vice / hobby to distract you that doesn't come with additional guilt
- Print our your results tables and figures so you can physically see them and reference when you are writing
- What is the question you are actually trying to answer
- What do you need to show to prove your argument
- Write up as you are going along in methods and working, not everything will be used immediately, but it will help you stay on track, feel like you are making progress and not waste time
- Start simple
When I feel really stuck:
- For example, trying to respond to reviewer comments when I really don't want to. Write down each section of the paper (Abstract, Introduction, etc). Then say I'm going to spend 1 hr on each one. Then just put on earplugs and do it. Just for an hour.
- or even 20minutes. You can do anything for 20 minutes!
- If you are really stuck, try writing about why you are stuck. Acknowledge and validate this!
The right environment:
- put Word in draft view, turn on the new focus view, and set the style area pane to 1inch (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2010/08/09/show-the-style-area-pane-in-word-2010/)