I’ve never considered myself a writer. But since my livelihood is dependent on what I produce–articles and books–it’s time to start honing that craft more seriously.
1. Write 3 pages by hand everyday.
About anything, so long as you’re doing some non-academic creative writing. I’ve found this is much harder than it seems, mentally and physically–when was the last time you wrote by hand non-stop for 20 minutes? While the writing coming out of those pages is hardly the stuff of sharing, it has been an helpful daily activity to get use to writing and thinking on my own about issues not having to do directly with my research.
2. Write a blog entry a week and 5 tweets a day about issues that interest me.
Being part of the conversation beyond just research articles and conferences should also include involvement in social media, that could open the way to developing ideas further or future collaborations. A mentor of mine, Kim TallBear, advised me to keep a blog for working out new ideas that, in her case, became the seeds of paper talks and chapters.
3. Create a community of writers through writing groups.
I’m connected to an university, so every Wednesday is a dedicated writing day. The aim is to approach every Wednesday as a day to write, and to schedule everything else around that day. I’m hoping to start an off-campus writing group as well, so I can connect to fiction and non-academic writers as well. In South Africa, I’ve recently connected to the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ of South Africa–ANFASA for short–where I’m hoping to link up and write with others here in Joburg.
4. Reach out to experienced writers for feedback and guidance.
I often hold onto my work for too long and avoid sharing it with others until it’s often too late, like right before a major deadline. I’m learning to bring in mentors and other writers in earlier if I want to give myself time to reincorporate feedback back into the final product.