Everybody has one’s own approach to academic writing, one’s own style and way of doing things. It is alright – it defines one’s work and gives additional ways of standing out from the crowd. But still, there are a number of practices, ideas and simply tricks that are widely used by the majority of successful researchers and writers. They are not necessary – but they surely can make one’s life easier and their work more effective.
1. Utilize Your Interest
The best foundation for a good article is to write about something you are genuinely and passionately interested in, for the boredom is the worst enemy you have as a writer. Ideally, write about something you a fascinated about. If you don’t care for the topic but have to write on it, try to make yourself interested.
2. Set Your Worktime aside
Lack of organization is what kills more promising projects than anything else. To battle these tendencies, especially if you know yourself to be a disorganized person, set aside a fixed amount of time to work on your current project. It doesn’t matter how it will be organized: a particular number of hours every week, or from 2 to 4 hours daily, or something else. The only thing important is to have a plan and to follow it.
3. Set Time
Break down your research into meaningful and not very big parts – then set a deadline for completing each of them. It is especially important in case of big projects – enormous tasks tend to loom over you and occupy your entire horizon, making it impossible to tackle any separate aspect of it. When they are broken down into segments, they get much more manageable.
4. Don’t Waste Time
If you have set aside time for research, make sure to use it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel too well, or are too tired, or don’t have inspiration for any meaningful work right now. There is always something you can do, however small a task. Prepare the literature, contact a potential source of information, proofread what’s already written – there are always things to be done, whereas ideal work conditions are an utopia.
5. Make a Start
If you don’t know what to start with, start with anything. It is often one of the most troublesome stages of research, so there is a number of tricks you can use to get yourself going. Create a text file on your computer and give it the name of your project. Write the title inside. Sketch an approximate table of contents. Start writing a preface, even if you know it is going to be terrible and you will have to rewrite it from scratch later – it isn’t important; what’s important is to get started.
But don’t push yourself too hard. Sometimes the best thing you can do to progress with a piece of work is to set it aside for the time being and work on something else. You will be amazed how easy it will go when you come back a week later.