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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing One Article a Year

Suppose you only had to write one article a year, but had an otherwise busy schedule, like a heavy teaching load or administrative duties? A lot of people just give up and decide do no research, but I think that I could design a plan by which anybody could write one article.

January: Before your semester starts, there are about two weeks. Your task is to come up with an idea for an article. No writing, no research, just an idea.

February-May: Just read. That's it. Just read things that are relevant to your article. Primary texts, secondary texts, theory, whatever it may be. Do this evenings, weekends, spring break, whenever. Treat your job except for research as an 8-5 job so that it doesn't spill over into the weekends and evenings. We aren't talking about reading a huge amount, even. Maybe a novel a month plus a few critical articles.

May-August: Write. Between when classes get out and when they start again, write a 6,000-word draft. You'll need to average about 60 words a day over a 90 day period.

September-December: Revise and submit.

Start the process over the next January, increasing efficiency by learning from your mistakes. Around April you might have to revise the article from the last year when it is rejected or provisionally accepted, so the May-August of the second year might be a little tougher.

Now the problem is that nobody really works this way, this systematically. Almost nobody can sustain a low level of effort on something over a whole year's time. Someone who hadn't done anything in a long time wouldn't have the scholarly base to even come up with an idea in two weeks. My point is that almost anyone could find the time to write an article in the course of one year with a little determination. And one article a year is respectable even in good research universities.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

I made the mistake of having a siesta today, so now I am haunting this blog and leaving endless comments here. :-)

The coach of the Olympics team in figure skating of the Soviet Union once said, "You should never aim to take second or third place in a competition. If you do, you will be lucky to end up in the sixth or seventh place. To take the silver, you need to aim to take the gold. And to take the gold, you need to aim to be the absolute best in the world and then some."