Tips for Grads: Summer Writing

By Luke Urbain and Gabrielle Isabel Kelenyi, PhD candidates

Writing over the summer can be tricky. While many of us begin the break with best intentions to write, write, and write some more all summer long and enjoy some rest and sunshine, it can be hard to strike such a balance. At the Writing Center, we are regularly helping writers develop manageable summer writing plans. Here are a few of our most helpful tips:

Motivate and Organize Yourself

  • Consider what you hope your project will accomplish, why you chose your topic, and your personal motivations for writing in order to determine and stick to a plan.
  • Organize your space by keeping all project materials in an area appropriate for your task. This includes saving your work frequently and backing up your writing in multiple places often.
  • Organize your research by recording important information, thoughts, and connections in a journal and/or writing your own abstracts of what you’ve read. Bonus: you can synthesize these journal entries and abstracts later in free writes, literature reviews, and outlines!

Manage Your Time

  • Set specific, achievable goals that match the time you have.
  • Schedule research time regularly. Instead of “finding” time for research or writing, schedule regular blocks of time directly onto your calendar.
  • Give yourself a deadline. This deadline can be external or internal. As the deadline approaches, check in with an “accountability buddy” or advisor, and make sure to plan something celebratory around bigger deadlines.

Seek Support

  • Avoid the typical graduate student trap of feeling guilty for working too much and not working enough by taking intentional breaks.
  • Make writing social by choosing to join a labmate at the library or dropping by one of the Writing Center’s Summer Drop-In Writing Groups to help make independent work feel less lonely.
  • Come to the Writing Center! The Writing Center has one-on-one appointments throughout the summer to help with everything from grammar to getting unstuck.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.

This column was written by guest contributors. Read more about being a guest columnist for Tips for Grads.