The Four Cornerstones to Writing More: Create Positive Feedback Loops

by | Aug 2, 2018 | academic writing

How does your writing make you feel?

When you think about writing, do you feel excited, happy, and encouraged?

Or do you feel guilty, sad, and overwhelmed?

You are never going to write and publish as much as you want to if you feel yucky about your writing. But feeling good about your writing doesn’t just happen randomly or by accident.

You have to create that positive relationship with your writing.

I call this creating “positive feedback loops.” It means that when you write, you feel positive feelings, which make you want to write again, in a super-happy loop of unicorns and rainbows.

I exaggerate, but you get what I mean.

These positive feelings are created by you by implementing certain writing behaviors.

You are never going to write and publish as much as you want to if you feel yucky about your writing. But feeling good about your writing doesn’t just happen randomly or by accident.Click To Tweet

Behavior #1: Start with small wins

If you are currently not getting the amount of writing done that you want to, do not try to suddenly write for eight hours a day.

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of writing with focus. Getting in one hour of focused writing per week consistently is the first small step. Then you can expand to two or three hours consistently.

The idea is to set yourself up to win at writing. Small goals. Easy consistency. Writing with focus so that the writing feels good.

Be purposeful and gentle on yourself.

Behavior #2: Reward yourself

Set up an easy-to-maintain reward system so that you are giving yourself positive feedback for small and large writing successes. This can be as simple as a literal gold star stuck to your calendar on each day that you have a focused writing session.

A member of the I Should be Writing Facebook group puts a pebble in a glass vase in her office for each day that she meets a small writing goal.

Jar filled with stones to represent each day you meet your writing goal

You should also have bigger rewards for reaching bigger goals, particularly for when you submit work for publication. You could go out to dinner, open a nice bottle of wine, or even just plan an at-home dance party in your living room.

Get into the habit of acknowledging your work by creating a positive experience for yourself.

Behavior #3: Adjust your mindset

So much of writing is about mindset. We all struggle with impostor syndrome, guilt, and overwhelm around writing at one time or another.

We all struggle with impostor syndrome, guilt, and overwhelm around writing at one time or another.Click To Tweet

There is so much pressure around writing and publishing in academia. The stakes are very high: getting the job, keeping the job, getting the promotion, getting the grant. Much of it is dependent on your publication record.

But at the same time, academia sets us up for failure at writing in different ways. Most of us aren’t trained in writing as a practice, so we are making up systems and behaviors as we go along. When these systems and behaviors come from a place of pressure and fear, they often don’t feel very good and end up creating negative cycles of feedback between us and our writing.

Instead, we must realize that writing is about caring for ourselves and our career. It is about getting your message out into the world, where it can change your field and help people.

Writing is worth your time, reflection, and energy, perhaps more than any other academic undertaking. Your teaching is better when you feel good about your writing. Your research is better. You are happier.

But these positive interactions with and feeling about are writing must be actively created and fostered by you. Take time today to implement just one of the behaviors here, then comment on this post and tell me which one you tried!

To create positive feelings about your writing, set goals, and learn more about creating a sustained and supported writing practice in a group of like-minded academic women from around the world, join The Academic Women’s Writing Collective today!

Click here for all the details and to join us in the Collective!

Academic Women's Writing Collective


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