500 WORDS OR DIE

 

I’ve recently had a lull in output, and so I’ve set myself a target to deal with it. Some of the Ph.D-ers I follow on Twitter set themselves goals of a certain number of words per day, and so I thought I’d give it a go. I’m starting off small, but 500 words is better than No Words. I’ll be distributing my 500 words across reports, drafts of papers, and blog posts. They all contribute to my overall Ph.D aims, so it’s a great way to ensure that I actually get something done, even if it’s just a rehashing of previous work to consolidate my thoughts. The only rule is that the words have to contribute to something that I will publish in one form or another. I’m tempted to include posts on forums, or replies to blogs. I could split the 500 words over multiple pieces, but I’ll try not to diversify so much as to make individual contributions meaningless. Like I said, 500 words is just a start. I’ll build up to more words as time goes by. 500 words can sometimes be a lot when you’re studying part-time, but I’m determined to get better at writing and being more productive. That’s the whole point of this exercise. Who knows when I will go up to 750 or even 1000 words daily? Then I could end up with the problem of too many words. Numerous individuals I follow on Twitter complain of having to cut superfluous verbiage from their theses. I am permitted a maximum of 90,000 words in my final submission, but 80,000 is the recommended figure. Not Writing Anything is a problem I suffer from terribly. My supervisor often encourages me to just submit what I have in its current state for review – it’s not possible to monitor progress if it’s all in my head. But I’m a perfectionist – I don’t like to submit anything unless it’s complete and done exactly to my liking – this is a very dangerous vice to have. And so, 500 words that are meaningful in some way, but not necessarily perfect. There’s always room for editing at a later stage. 500 words amongst all the other things I have to do – the research, the reading, the thinking, the discussing, the presenting. But that’s really half the battle. There’s no record that I’ve done and understood the work unless I get it down on paper. 500 words might be the optimal quantity – enough to get me writing something, but not so many that I waffle on about anything for the sake of production. And what if I go over 500? It doesn’t matter. I can’t save up my words to get out of writing another day. I must be strict on myself, or I’ll slip back into my old ways. One idea I have is to create a graph of my daily output over time (tracking progress motivates me). I love graphs. And I love words.

Word Count: 499

POSTSCRIPT: I found this rather neat productivity suite while messing about online (ha, the irony!): http://prod.uctivity.com/

 

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