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Writing from Home

In the midst of the current public health crisis, social distancing has required us all to spend more time at home than we might be used to. As a result, many of us are having to adapt and take up new writing practices. Below are some tips and resources compiled by the OWRC to help make the transition easier.

Do you know of any additional resources or tips you would like to share? Let us know at owrc@uw.edu!

Seven Tips for Writing from Home:

  1. Prioritize
    • There are always competing interests for your time. During this moment of uncertainty, the stresses of managing these competing interests can be exacerbated. Before you commit yourself to a writing goal or plan, take a moment to map out your priorities and figure out where your writing project(s) fit in relation to your other commitments. It is okay if writing is not your first, second, or third priority. Devote some reflective time to figuring out where writing sits in relation to your other priorities so that you can triage and proceed accordingly.
    • Not sure how to prioritize? Here is one approach to prioritizing from Duke University’s Duke Emerging Leaders Institute.
  2. Set Goals for Yourself
    • Once you have a clear vision of how your life and writing priorities are situated, set a mid- or long-range goal for yourself. What do you want or need to accomplish? What time to you need to allot to do accomplish this goal? Consider using the SMART acronym to help guide your goal setting.
    • You may also choose to set smaller, incremental goals to help you stay focused and track your progress. If this is more your speed, try methods like the Pomodoro Technique, a time-based technique that can help you balance writing and break time as you work toward your goal. This technique can also be used as a helpful way to set manageable time goals for your writing practice.
  3. Stay Connected to Your Peers and Advisors
    • Keep in touch with your advisors and mentors. Let them know how you are doing and what you need. Consider establishing regular check-ins via email or Zoom.
    • Stay connected to your peers. Take time to virtually check in with one another. You can use platforms like Zoom, Slack, or Habitica to stay connected and provide mutual support and accountability.
    • Establish a virtual writing group or pair up with a writing buddy. Make sure you have shared goals and expectations, then commit to regular check-ins and writing times where you can touch base, chat, and provide feedback.
  4. Designate a Workspace
    • Designating a workspace can be a helpful way of setting boundaries for yourself and/or carve out time and space for you to focus on your project(s). A well-suited workspace can also help you be more productive during your worktime by saving you from time drains like having to retrieve things you need or continually needing to readjust to create an amenable writing environment.
    • Not sure how to create a good workspace for yourself? Check out this post from Ideas on Fire, Finding a Work Space Where You Can Thrive.
  5. Establish a Routine
    • Establishing a routine can be a helpful way of keeping yourself on track when you are working from home. If you can, try to set aside an hour or two at roughly the same time every day (or however often is possible for you) to focus solely on your writing. This might feel strange the first few times you try it, but the more often you do it, the easier it will become to focus when your writing time rolls around.
    • What does a good routine look like? The answer is whatever works best for you. Check out some examples from The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers.
  6. Set Parameters for Yourself
    • One challenge of working from home can be managing your work-life balance. When your academic/professional life and personal life are all centered in the same space, it can be difficult to keep one from taking over the other. One way to deal with this is by setting boundaries for yourself. What time will you devote to tasks and projects? When will you reserve time for yourself?
    • Ready to set some parameters but not sure how? Have a look at this article from freelance writer Jen A. Miller, How to Work From Home, if You’ve Never Done It Before.
  7. Practice Self-Care (for graduate writers) 
    • Graduate school is stressful as it is and added uncertainty only compounds that stress. Be patient and kind to yourself. Remember to look after your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Graduate writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You would not expect a runner to complete a marathon without taking care of their body and mind, nor should you expect yourself to complete an intellectual project without taking the same care for your mind and body.
    • If you are not sure how to practice self-care or are just looking for something new to try, here are some tried and true tips from a fellow graduate student, Tested Tips to Battle Burnout with Better Self-Care.