How to Write a Lot
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Product Description

All students and professors need to write, and many struggle to finish their stalled dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, or grant proposals. Writing is hard work and can be difficult to wedge into a frenetic academic schedule. In this practical, light-hearted, and encouraging book, Paul J. Silvia explains that writing productively does not require innate skills or special traits but specific tactics and actions. Drawing examples from his own field of psychology, he shows readers how to overcome motivational roadblocks and become prolific without sacrificing evenings, weekends, and vacations. After describing strategies for writing productively, the author gives detailed advice from the trenches on how to write, submit, revise, and resubmit articles; how to improve writing quality; and how to write and publish academic work.

Customer Reviews:

  • An engaging, concise text that can inform the least experienced to the most seasoned authors
    Dr. Silvia is both informative and entertaining in his presentation of practical methods for being a productive writer. I have implemented a number of his suggestions and have encouraged a number of my colleagues to do so as well. I have also found the book to be a useful text in courses preparing undergraduate students to write a thesis. Although the book is perhaps directed primarily at professionals, Dr. Silvia's use of humor makes the book accessible to students. His methods, if applied early, could make our prot¨¦g¨¦s surpass us. ...more info
  • An easy, helpful read
    This book is the perfect length, so you'll actually get through it. The chapters are focused, and the topics covered are relevant and useful. I've really enjoyed reading it.

    Silvia's style is funny without trying too hard, which makes a short book go even faster. My favorite chapters... Chapter 2 (on specious barriers to writing a lot) will motivate you and get you to finally give writing a place in your schedule. Chapter 3 (Motivational tools) presents time-tested goal-setting tips that will help you start writing and keep going. Chapter 5 (a brief foray into style) gives you just enough tips on style and improving your writing that you might actually take some of his advice.

    I'm in a PhD program in psychology, so his advice to students and professors (which comes from his experience in psychology) seems really helpful and relevant, but I wonder if the tips in chapters 6 and 7 (on writing journal articles and books, respectively) would be less helpful to people from very different fields. Anyone would benefit just from reading chapters 1-5, though, so I still whole-heartedly recommend it.
    ...more info
  • Useful, with a touch of refreshing humor
    Paul Silvia's volume is a humorous bit of sound advice on how to produce plentiful bits of academic writing. His basic premise centers around the creation of a writing schedule that is immutable and permanent. Whether you spend four weekly hours or ten, Silvia contends that the consistency will produce results far faster than if you should wait for inspiration to strike.

    It wasn't without some guilty recognition that I read Chapter 2, "Specious Barriers to Writing a Lot". However, Silvia keeps the tone pragmatic, rather than condemnatory, and suggests various methods of tracking one's progress and "carrot-on-a-stick" rewards.

    While I am sure Silvia's methods will work (I've had success thus far), I do wonder about academics who have children. The needs of children do not often fall into a schedule, and I can see that parents might find maintaining a strict writing schedule more difficult. I do know a few colleagues who would find Silvia's approach an oversimplification of what it takes to write.

    I recommend this book because it is a quick read and contains some valuable and consolidated insights into writing productively. I think he is overly negative about the act of writing (some of us DO enjoy writing), but addresses it as a necessary evil for those who may not be so inclined. While it is geared toward post-graduates and faculty, it certainly would help anyone engaged in writing a dissertation, particularly in the humanities or social sciences....more info
  • the best book on writing I have read
    This is a great little book on writing. It is a fast read, very practical, and filled with sound advice. My favorite part of it is the way in which it debunks the excuses that are so easy to use to avoid writing. It discusses the process of setting aside time to write, setting prioirities, and monitoring progress on goals. I realize this sounds very dull, and I have definitely read books about prioritizing and goal setting that were boring. But this book is engaging throughout. Reading it felt to me like having a nice conversation with a teacher I like a lot, whose words I really want to take in and use....more info
  • I agree with the fans here...
    Part of my job involves reading how-to-write books, and for purely academic careers this is the best of the best. Some have criticized it as only being about a schedule, but if that's what you take away from it then you've missed the point. Dr. Silvia's research is in what makes something interesting, and he cites various studies that dissect the concept of interest in different ways. If you are willing to look up some of the books and papers he recommends, you'll learn so much about how and why academics write (or don't).

    He writes for psychologists, but any publishing academic can learn from this....more info
  • A Tightly Written Behavioralist Approach to Production of Academic Writing
    I confess I have not been as productive a researcher as I should have been since getting tenure. This little gem of a book is changing both my attitude and behavior toward academic writing. There are numerous articles hidden in the dozen or so new data sets I have collected over the past few years. This book has already helped me establish my writing goals and now is the time to produce. Thanks, Dr. Silvia for help and advice. By the way, as of Nov. 2008, he is at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro which is an excellent university.

    Wllliam Bailey, Ph.D., University of Arkansas ...more info
  • Student enjoys use
    From a Student's Perspective
    This book is an excellent tool for students to conquer roadblocks to BEGIN writing. There is a an important and very well laid out emphasis on setting a schedule for writing.
    Reading the book does really make you see that writers are not born, they are people who devote time to writing and practice it. This book is also NOT one of those books that tell you SIT DOWN and DO IT! - because if it really were that easy wouldn't we all be accomplished writers in junior high?

    Compared to most other writing books, the sheer size of this book made me choose this book first to buy and/or open it. Don't judge it by it's size, in fact be glad of it's size. It's valuable information in a concise manner....more info
  • Simple Point, Repeated Frequently
    Paul Silvia received his PhD in psychology from the University of Kansas in 2001. Since that time, it appears that he has been busy writing; he has written or co-written twenty-five journal articles and three books including this one. This book is the culmination of his study of books on how to write a lot combined with conversations he had with prolific writers. Paul Silvia begins the book with the idea that the key to productive writing is to plan time for writing. Time to write is not something that a person can just find. As Silvia explains, "Instead of finding time to write, allot time to write" (12). The book continues to reiterate that idea throughout.

    The book needs some tweaking in order to have crossover appeal to all fields, which it is so close to already having. Too much of the book is embedded in Silvia's field of psychology. The principles still can be applied, but the work that could have been done by the author to make this book more appealing to a wider scholarly audience was not done. Silvia wrote an exceptional book for writers in the field of psychology and an adequate book for writers in other fields. His overarching principle of scheduling time to write is applicable no matter what field you are in. ...more info
  • You knew most of this but still very helpful
    I bought this several months ago and have found it truly helpful. I am writing more. As noted by the less favorable reviews the key to his system is write based on a schedule. There is more to the book than this one line. I enjoyed the author's dry sense of humor and the details of his own experiences. The next most important thoughts in the book are avoid binge writing and form a writing group. It may be most helpful to academics. Although I am not in psychology I did not find the references to his field distracting. Some of the critics say there is not enough depth to this, but I re-read sections from time to time to motivate myself....more info
  • Writing is hard, writing is hard, writing is hard, ...
    If you're looking for a book on how to research a paper, layout a plan of attack for a disseration or thesis, or simply trying to figure out how to be a more productive writer, try another book.

    This book can be summed up quite easily: writing is hard, make a plan, writing is difficult, stick to the plan, writing is hard, get a good mentor, and, writing is hard.
    ...more info
  • Practical tips that really work
    Easy to read and quick to implement. The book brings valuable tips on the crucial thing we need to do in order to make writing something more normal in our academic life. ...more info
  • How to Write A Lot
    Very simple reading, concise and to the point. I enjoyed the author's humor. I put his suggestions to work immediately and it has helped a lot!...more info
  • belly aches!
    When I sit down to write, I get the jumblies in my tummy and it hurts like a force of nature took the wind right out of you. I can't read that well, and I only started English class two years ago, but I am going to write the next grate american novel (I hope!). Thank you Dr. for you tips that sometimes strangers will read to me if they're not in a hurry and I'm well dressed....more info
  • Good practical advice
    The book is compact and written with a good sense of humor. It offers a lot of hands-on, well-motivated tips for productive writing. While academics are the target audience, the book would be useful for anyone with big writing tasks.

    The main message of the book is self-evident: to write a lot, you need to -write a lot.
    ...more info
  • 409 words/day over the last 28 days
    All of my grad student friends went to a talk by Dr. Silvia during a recent conference. I decided to go to a different talk on some boring topic I don't remember anymore. Everyone came back raving about what a good talk it was and how helpful the advice seemed. So I decided to buy this book because I didn't want to be left out of the conversation.

    Over the last month, I followed the advice in this book and tripled my average writing output even though I had a master's thesis to defend and was teaching my first class. I owe 3908 words in my thesis and 11452 words overall to the method in this book. I think I owe a piece of my sanity to it as well. ...more info
  • short and to the point
    This book is excellent for anyone - I mean absolutely anyone - who is struggling with their efforts to be a prolific writer. The book is addressed to academics in the field of psychology, but the central lessons of the book are relevant for writers in any discipline, as well as those who write fiction, memoirs or whatever. I love the no-nonsense approach and the author's straightforward, easy to remember, easy to follow, advice. Best of all, the book is very short - it can be read in one or two sittings - so you can stop wasting your time reading and get back to what you really should be doing: writing. ...more info
  • Perfect. Absolutely Perfect.
    I take great pleasure in being the first person to review this gem. I am not feeling particularly eloquent; my words will not do justice to this fine book, but I am not going to let that stop me from suggesting that if you are having any problems getting pen to paper, fingers to keys, or butt to seat, this book is for you. Dr. Silvia presents scientifically sound AND entertaining, engaging information. It is a quick read, which is good. You have to write after all. Speaking of which, I'd better get to it! This book is super. TOC: Specious Barriers to Writing a Lot, Motivational Tools, A Brief Foray Into Style, Writing Journal Articles, Writing Books, and a couple more. This book is published by the American Psychological Association, which tells you a lot about the quality. It is part of their LifeTools imprint. Dr. Silvia is a very talented young man, obviously a talented writer, and a darned good psychologist, too, I bet! The book is targeted for those interested in "productive academic writing," but I think it is perfect for anyone interested in productive writing of any type. Okay, now back to my writing....more info
  • Fun and Motivating!
    I enjoyed this easy-to-read book. As a grad student, I am always using the myths that are debunked in this book. I recommend it to anyone who needs a kick in the pants and a little encouragement to begin that big project! There is also useful info about grammar and structure of academic writing....more info
  • GREAT
    I purchased this book to have for a reading group with other graduate students in my psychology department. We are starting to talk about this book and how to increase our productivity. The writing in this book is very easy to read and understand and the author doesn't make you feel stupid at any point. Excellent book for those who want a career in academics, but is having a hard time being productive to make that vita stronger!...more info
  • Great book
    This is a fabulous book, with wonderful advice. It is funny, short, and I will be recommending it to everyone. Paul gives great advice, and he encourages work and family balance, which I can certainly appreciate. I am already setting up a spreadsheet to track my productivity. If I get tenure, I bet this book will have a hand....more info
  • Short, and very sweet.
    I am a graduate student in behavior analysis and was recommended this book by one of my advisors. I've done good in all of my classes to this point, but I could never find the time to start the research/writing aspect of my degree. There was always something better, more interesting, more pressing that I needed to do instead of writing. As I read this brief and to the point book, I found the author addressing every last one of my excuses for not writing. And while I cannot completely credit this book (I have to take a little bit of the credit), I can say that I have written more in the past few weeks since reading this book than I have over the course of my entire career in graduate school.

    This book focuses on scientific writing, but would be useful to anyone struggling to complete any type of academic writing. The main point of this book is that the only way to write productively is to make a schedule (daily, weekly, etc.) and stick to it, no matter what. In addition, Silvia discusses how to create your own writing support group, tips for other scientific writing endeavors (grants, book chapters, etc.), and also offers some stylistic recommendations. All this is done is an informal, tongue-in-cheek tone that keeps the book a light and fast read. Whether you are graduate student just starting out, or a distinguished professor, if you struggle with becoming or remaining a productive writer, there's something in this book for you. ...more info
  • "How to Write A Lot" is incredible.
    As a graduate student of psychology, I can always improve my writing. The strategies that P.J. Silvia's offers are the best tips I've ever received. I feel so confident that this book will make a big impact of my future writing. With a quick read, it's the greatest writing book out there....more info
  • Hi, my name is Meg and I'm a binge writer.
    I picked up this book knowing that it was going to tell me to stick to a writing schedule. I thought, "Well, I'll just ignore that part and pick out the stuff I like." I really did not want to hear that in order to be productive, I would have to schedule several hours a week in order to write. I am a busy person; where on earth will I "find the time"? Long weekends and school breaks are when the writing will get done. Well, P. J. Silvia shattered that illusion into a million pieces... He made it clear that I will never complete my papers if I keep waiting for the perfect moment, because during those perfect moments I will find something else that needs to be done (e.g. catch up on sleep, call my mother, wash the laundry, etc.). Unfortunately, it is my job to write. Problem, no?

    But you see, I DETEST writing. I become paralyzed by anxiety, and I dread the exhaustion that inevitably follows a bout with my computer. So, I avoid it. But Dr Silvia argues that if I wrote at a specific time, on specific days, every week--and gave myself small goals for that session (e.g. write 200 words)--there would be no anxiety. Afterall, who can't write 200 words in an hour or two? Moreover, that small task won't drain me of energy. Research would not become enjoyable, but it would lose its status as cruel and unusual punishment. It would simply become an unpleasant part of my work, comparable to having to attend boring committee meetings.

    I picked up this book intending to ignore the nasty scheduling piece, and I left converted. This book shatters any illusions you may have about binge writing being the "technique" that works for you. So, if you don't want to schedule writing time, maybe you should ask yourself why--and then read this book. ...more info