Posts Tagged ‘other disciplines’

How to Write a Lot

September 23, 2009

I was a little skeptical that writing a professional weblog would be of any benefit to anyone, but it has actually already paid off for me. As a response to my post on Getting Things Done, two friends/colleagues wrote to me about How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia. I read this over the weekend, and enjoyed it.

The book roughly says, “To write a lot, schedule time each day to write.” This might seem simple, but it can be a little difficult to implement. Before reading the the text, I had scheduled myself time to do math for 70 minutes every other day. So far, this has not paid off a lot. However, I think that I might change that to daily starting next week. When this happens, I hope to see a rise in productivity.

A second thing that I am doing is to apply for a fellowship. This fellowship will release me from one course next year, giving me time to work on a textbook I am writing. I have to imagine that this, combined with a schedule, will help me to “write a lot.”

A second benefit of the book is that it spelled out the difference between psychology research (Silvia’s field) and mathematics (mine). Silvia wrote that most psychology professors have a backlog of data, and they could produce many papers if they could find time to sort through the data. Basically, psychology professors are not lacking for things to write about. I find this not to be true in mathematics. My struggle is to create original mathematics that people care about. I would love to have the problem of having too many ideas stashed away in my filing cabinet. Because of this, I expect that most of my “writing time” will actually be “thinking time.”