Book Recommendation: The Chronicle Productivity Guide to Writing & Publishing

One of my goals for this blog going forward is to offer more resources about writing and research. I’ve posted a few here and there, but plan to be more consistent in offering suggestions.

I periodically read blogs and articles about books about writing. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the seemingly unending resources out there. I’ve started reading books about writing both to see if I can get tips for my own writing, but to also discern what are actually good resources and ones that are less helpful.

One that I like a lot is The Chronicle Productivity Guide to Writing & Publishing by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Though geared towards academics, anyone can find it helpful. What I like about it is that it is short essays from a variety of people. Though there is a cohesiveness, one need not read it in order nor cover to cover to find useful assistance.

This 84-page book distills the most common questions about and challenges to writing that probably everyone can relate to. It is divided into 5 sections:

  1. Finding Time and Managing Your Project List
  2. Conquering Isolation: The Writing Group
  3. Overcoming Inner Obstacles
  4. Ways to Improve Your Writing
  5. Navigating the Publishing Process

Within each section is realistic, practical advice. For archivists, I think sections 1, 3, and 4 are the most relevant. Two interesting essays in the first section jumped out at me. One discussed doing a reverse day planner, where you document everything you do to see how you spend your time. While I like this idea greatly, I haven’t yet done it. But it can help see how to carve out time to write.

The second one was about energy levels. The author breaks energy up into A, B, and C, and assigns writing to A. It is also about finding the time when your energy is at a peak, to designate that as your writing time. Some people are good early in the morning, others late at night. But identifying that can help be more productive.

The third section about inner obstacles has essays that every writer can relate to. Avoidance, doubts, organization, and many other aspects are the obstacles described. Then, there are some practical and unique ideas on how to move past those obstacles.

The fourth section about writing is also very helpful. I’m amused that one essay is called “7 Tips to Write Less Badly,” which is a good indication of how helpful the tips are. Some of the tips in these essays advise to think less about the amount of time spent on writing and more on the quantity of output, various ways to formulate and organize a strong argument, and how to find your voice.

This is not a cheap book, but is truly one of the best ones I’ve looked at if you are looking for some quick and insightful guidance on improving your writing and writing habits.

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