Doing a PhD, or working in other academia/science jobs, means lots and lots of writing, including writing scientific articles or manuscript. Despite having almost five years experience of scientific writing I still hit writing blocks frequently.
So these are my tips to overcome it:
- Do the small stuff first- Make sure you have finished the ‘small stuff’ first and have everything in order before you start writing. This may be editing tables, ensuring that your data excel spreadsheets are up to date, or rechecking statistics.
- Write notes- Start by writing notes for what you want to cover in each paragraph/section. I know when I’m writing I have a million thoughts a minute- so by jotting down notes I won’t forget any of the important ideas later. It also allows you to stay on track and tell the story you intend to.
- Find a playlist- The right playlist is essential for getting those creative juices flowing. This is my current favourite playlist for writing- Into the woods
- Wait until you’re in the mood- Scientific writing is hard, you have to be thorough, creative, concise, and interesting. So it is important that you are in the right frame of mind to achieve this. Therefore some days when I’m not feeling it I work on something else.
- Go back to old school techniques- I like to think that we got our pen licences for a reason. I always find when I’m struggling with creativity I like to rewrite paragraphs by hand- for some reason I find the words always flow better.
- Don’t fixate on the small things- When you are writing you don’t want to stop your groove. So don’t stop to edit, or add in references. “Just keep writing, just keep writing”. That is what editing is for.
- Coffee- Go buy yourself that delicious coffee just the way you like it, you will need it trust me!