Episode #30

Why You Need a Writing System

What exactly is a writing system and why do you need one? I’m taking you through 3 parts of an effective system, and showing you why you need one.



You might think you already have a writing system if you try to write a certain number of words everyday, or you employ the Pomodoro technique in your writing sessions. But these are goals, not systems. So what is a writing system? And why do you need one?

Here is my definition of a writing system:

“A set of practices, rooted in a value system about writing, that is employed strategically to help you meet your goals.”

Let’s break that down and look at each of the 3 parts that comprise it.


A Set of Practices

These are certain things that you do regularly, combinations of activities relating to your writing. This does not mean a number of words that you try to write each day. These are things like:

  • How and when you schedule your writing time, and how you honor that time.
  • How you keep track of your writing progress.
  • What rewards you give yourself for reaching writing milestones.
  • How you choose what projects to focus on next.
  • How you keep track of the time writing takes, and how you refine your time allocations.

In my Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® 12-week program I teach a set of practices, to pull back the curtain on how women and nonbinary academics actually get their writing done, so you’re not re-inventing the wheel. These practices are flexible, you tailor them to your own life.

Rooted in a Value System About Writing

Our practices grow from the foundation of our values concerning writing and what it means for us as humans and academics. Some values that root and ground a writing system are:

  • Putting writing at the center of our careers. We recognize that by putting writing in the central place and building our careers around it we become better scholars, teachers, researchers and members of our academic communities. 
  • Using the feminization of academic culture as an underpinning for our writing systems. This helps us keep in mind the ways in which patriarchy is infused into academia and reminds us to honor and support the experiences of women and nonbinary academics as whole beings.
  • Reducing guilt and overwhelm and building systems that repel them. Any writing practices we employ must help us make our writing feel good instead of allowing us to become overwhelmed or overworked.
  • Building positive momentum. Our writing systems help us to feel positive, inspired, and excited to write. 

Employed Strategically to Meet Goals

All of your practices are like your bag of tricks; they are a toolbox full of actions you can choose from as needed. Things will always ebb and flow, your life and career circumstances change. As you move through these changes, you can strategically choose the practices that help you reach the goals you have in that moment.


Why You Need a True Writing System

This type of system might sound a little complicated at first. Why do I believe you need to have a system for your writing instead of individual goals? 

  • When you have a system, you have a way back into your writing if you get off track. If your whole system is “write 500 words a day” and then a crisis hits and you can’t stick to that, what happens to your writing? Does guilt over not completing that goal make it hard to get back to it? Not having a system means you don’t have other options to choose from.
  • You have a set of practices to strategically employ. So if writing every day doesn’t make sense right now, you have other things you can do.
  • Without a system, you don’t have a toolkit to help you move projects out the door. A writing system can expand and contract in response to your situation, helping you jumpstart projects and push them out the door.


“You need a writing toolkit to move projects out the door.”


A writing system is a set of practices, rooted in a value system about writing, that is employed strategically to help you meet your goals. And you need one to keep you moving in your practice, no matter the situation.

Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® opens for enrollment very soon! The teaching is rooted in the values that writing should feel good and you should feel good. If you want to be first to know when enrollment is open, be sure to get on the waitlist.


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