The Discipline of Writing

Last quarter, a professor I admire very highly invited me to coffee with her, and encouraged me to ask her anything about graduate school, admissions, and academia. The first question I asked her was about her writing process. She paused for a moment, “hmmm, I write everything by hand. Out of habit. But I always keep good records and take the time to type up my notes.” I nod, poised to speak, and she interrupts, “but the best thing you can do is to sit down and write for an hour a day. Practice writing. Cultivate a discipline of writing.”

I pressed her for more information on admissions into PhD programs, and she gave me the most candid advice she could as a member of the graduate admissions committee at [prestigious, renown school], “it’s about fit. If there’s a professor you want to work with, and they find your project to be a good fit, you’re more likely to get in. There are other factors, of course. GRE scores, grades, publications…”

I digress.

The discipline of writing. I am not a disciplined writer. I write in spurts of inspiration. I’ve written 60 pages of academic papers in a weekend, recursively refining and editing them until I could read the words in my sleep. I’ve also gone weeks without writing a word. 

So I will be blogging more. If it’s just summaries and reviews of books I’ve read, so be it. I need to just write.


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