I wrote last year about how I became someone who writes every weekday. This habit has been a game changer for my scholarly productivity and for my schedule. But times are tough, being inside for 4 months straight is lonely, and my academic writing habits have required some tweaks to deal with pandemic writing. Here’s the simplest change I’ve made to keep writing in 2020: not writing alone.
I can’t recommend virtual writing parties highly enough. My friend Mackensie (last featured here, also running this great Instagram!) and I have been writing together 2-3 days a week using a very simple formula: get on Zoom, share your goals, set the timer for 30 minutes, and write. After the timer stops we regroup to discuss what we’re working on, take a short break, then start again. It’s like being in a coffee shop together, but with social distance.
Isn’t that distracting?
Yes, who your writing buddy is for this exercise matters. We’ve gotten good at chatting for 10-15 minutes and then seriously getting to work. Definitely pick someone for writing parties who you know can agree to hit “mute” and start writing!
Timers and trackers
One of the hardest parts of big writing projects is the lack of instant gratification. That’s why I’ve started tracking time spent per week. In my bullet journal, I shade in a box for each 30 minutes I write. As a bonus, you’ll be AMAZED at what you can get done in 30 minutes. The timer also stops me from drifting off to do other things–if I feel the pull of instagram, I remind myself that it’s only 30 minutes and that tends to keep me on track.
Should we really use cameras?
YES. Is it a little creepy to supervise each other writing? Maybe. But humans like credit and the fact that someone can see me working or not working has been very helpful. Not that you really see your writing partner much once the timer starts and the tabs of research bury the Zoom window 🙂
We have benefited so much from writing parties at this point it’s become difficult to go more than a couple days without them. I have appreciated the feeling of a virtual workplace–writing always feels isolating, and this one simple trick keeps me talking about and working on my research.
Have you held a writing party? Have you adapted in other ways to writing and research this year?
Want more from Mackensie? She also talked about her morning routine here!