Suzanne Daughton

Associate Professor
Southern Illinois University.
(Ph.D., 1991, Department of Rhetoric, Supervisor: Dr. Roderick P. Hart)

"I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy or its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better."
--from Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, p. 52.

(In other words, even professional writers feel this way. Just sit down and give it time.)Suzanne Daughton

Make writing your first commitment and stick to it, as you would a class or a meeting. Do not answer the phone or email or grade or water the plants during this couple of hours a day or whatever you have.

Set small goals--at least edit this section here, three paragraphs there. Then hopefully you can get caught up in it and do more.

Experiment a little--do you write best doing a sloppy first draft and then editing it or retyping? or do you prefer to work from an outline and make it as good as you can as you go along? Find out what enables you to be more productive.

Give yourself little rewards if that motivates you: Once I finish X, I get to do Y. If rituals (making a cup of tea before you sit down to write) help, honor them.

Do not wait for big blocks of time. Keep your computer on (if you're at a writing stage) or carry your books/data with you (if you're at a reading/analysis stage). Do a few minutes' worth of work whenever you have a few minutes, even if it's not on your writing schedule. It will keep it on your mind and you will be wanting to get back to it, to get the next thing done.