From the Writing Studio: 5 Quick Writing Tips

March 03, 2020
Doctoral students working at the GSAS Writing Studio

The GSAS Writing Studio is dedicated to supporting Arts and Sciences doctoral students who are in the process of writing the dissertation—but their advice for doctoral students is helpful for all writers, no matter what their project. After all, writing can often be a solitary process for anyone. Whether you are just starting your writing project, or are in the thick of it, or have a draft already in hand, you can always benefit from these helpful tips.

  1. Flesh Out a New Idea: Are you about to get started on a new chapter or section? Are you turning a corner from research into writing? Team up with a writing partner to help you clarify the big ideas and the big stakes of your project. You don’t even need to have anything written down—often, just thinking out loud with someone gets the creative juices flowing.
  2. Make a Writing Plan: We all feel overwhelmed and exhausted by projects sometimes, or struggle to balance writing with other obligations. Instead of tackling your writing project as one large task, break it down into smaller tasks and develop a writing plan that fits into your schedule.  
  3. Give Yourself a Deadline: Help yourself meet writing goals by setting low-stakes deadlines along the way. Even if you don’t meet each deadline precisely, they help keep you on track.  
  4. Zoom In or Zoom Out: Ask your writing partner to close-read your draft with an eye toward clarifying individual sentences or put the draft aside and ask them to help you map out a stronger argument structure — whatever will allow you to offer your readers the most compelling version of your work.
  5. Help Your Writing Partner: Fair is fair — if you are asking a writing partner to review your work, then you need to do the same for them. The good news is that helping your writing partner will sharpen your own thinking and writing. Witnessing how another writer tackles their work will give you fresh ideas, both for strategy (how to set incremental deadlines) and language (using appropriate tone and style).

Dissertation-writers: Talking with smart, fellow writers can be useful at any stage of the writing process. It is a myth that you need to have finished a draft in order to take advantage of the GSAS Writing Studio’s one-on-one consultations.

Make an appointment for a forty-five-minute session with one of the Writing Studio’s trained consultants. The Studio’s interdisciplinary team of Writing Consultants can help you figure out how to respond productively to reader feedback, and they are ready to address your various writing questions.

The Writing Studio’s forty-five-minute, one-on-one consultations are available Monday through Friday, and take place in the Studio’s mezzanine space, 319M Lehman Library (view map), Room D.

Make an appointment here.

Cancellations must be made more than twenty-four hours in advance.