Writing: But where do I start?

My good friend and fellow PhD student requested a blog post about how to start writing, as she is currently stuck. I have been struggling for blog post inspiration so I was happy for the suggestion.

The hardest part of writing is probably starting to write. I feel like as PhD students we do everything else possible before we will actually start writing an article/chapter/program.

So these are my five tips for how to start:

  1. Organise your readings- While you are reading the relevant articles make sure you are writing a summary of the important information from the articles in a word document. This is a great way to keep track of all of the information and also the references.
  2. Start to collate the information- Once you have read widely on a topic it is time to start collating the information. You will never, ever be able to read everything on a topic so you need to know when to stop. Go through your summaries and pick out the important information. Then start a new document with different paragraph headings, start to put the relevant information and the reference under each section.
  3.  Find well written articles-  While you are reading through the articles, if you find one that you think is well written save it or print it out. I find that looking at sentence starters or paragraph structures is really helpful for inspiration.
  4. Start to write the paragraphs-  Once you have split the information into sections you have no more excuses, you have to just start writing (after making a cuppa of course). Just start writing, no matter how silly the words sound. Just start.
  5. Leave it for a little bit-  Once you have your poorly written paragraph that makes you question how you even got into a PhD (or whatever degree you are in), save it and close the document. Work on something else for a day or two and then come back to the paragraph(s) with fresh eyes. It is the editing that will make it good, but just remember, in the end you just have to start.
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