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How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing [Paperback]

Paul J. Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.95
Price: 10.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Jan 2007
All students and professors need to write, and many struggle to finish their stalled dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, or grant proposals. Writing is hard work and can be difficult to wedge into a frenetic academic schedule. In this practical, light-hearted, and encouraging book, Paul Silvia explains that writing productively does not require innate skills or special traits but specific tactics and actions. Drawing examples from his own field of psychology, he shows readers how to overcome motivational roadblocks and become prolific without sacrificing evenings, weekends, and vacations. After describing strategies for writing productively, the author gives detailed advice from the trenches on how to write, submit, revise, and resubmit articles, how to improve writing quality, and how to write and publish academic work.

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How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing + Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success + Stylish Academic Writing
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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: American Psychological Association; 1 edition (15 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591477433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591477433
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to write a lot on how to write a lot 27 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
Paul Silvia is a prolific academic psychologist, so the advice herein is not to be sniffed at (the examples and graphs that he embeds of his own working strategies and productivity are particularly interesting). As one reviewer notes though, this short book proclaims a simple message that can be condensed in a sentence: "Set regular, dedicated time to write, set specific goals for each writing session, and then write!" This is the secret, and despite his whimsical, entertaining style, Silvia should not and does not flesh over these bones with unnecessary flab. The result is a short and important message, bulked up into (short) book format by some excursions into style and tips for writing books and journal articles. Though the section on writing books is novel, these sections overlap considerably with Sternberg's edited volume 'Guide to Publishing in Psychology Journals', and though useful, are slightly tangential to the book title. If you already own said text, the book's innovative core slims further. The author also discusses the motivational value of recording a writing log and meeting with a writing group to keep you on track through peer pressure. Despite its brevity, the importance of the key message (in terms of long-term career impact) and Silvia's affable prose make this book a worthwhile investment for anyone who finds themself feeling guilty about their unfinished manuscripts.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to write a lot of drivel 27 Oct 2011
By Susie J
Format:Paperback
On page 110 of this book the author writes 'I spent fewer days writing this book's first draft than I spent writing a recent funded grant'. It shows.

This is a very thin book, in all senses of the word. It says one thing: create a writing schedule and stick to it. Yet somehow the author has managed to spread this out over 132 repetitive pages. These are bulked up with vacuous comment, pointless charts, unfunny cartoons clipped from the New Yorker, and self-regarding ramblings. It is nothing more than a cut and paste job, given a veneer of authority by a whole five pages of spurious academic references at the end. Moreover, for a book supposedly aimed at academics, it is impressively banal. For example, the author writes: "People read books when they want to learn about a new area, to gain a broad perspective on a new body of research, and to see what you have to say'. Any academic that gleans new insights from that is, presumably, in the wrong job.

But what is most astonishing is that for a book that purports to explain how to write more and better, it is so badly written. On almost every page there is a reference to one or more of the following: the author's friends, how much coffee he drinks, or the use of the word 'mittens'. A good editor would have knocked this stuff out of the manuscript. A good writer wouldn't have put it in there in the first place. And if you need further evidence of the vacuous ramblings within its pages, here's a sample quote from p125: "Writing books is clean family fun without the fun or the family (or even the cleanliness if you spill your coffee as often as I do)".

Towards the end of the book the author says: "It's ironic to write a short book about how to write a lot, but there isn't much to say". Quite. Save your money and spend your time writing instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped Me 26 Nov 2012
By Rebecca
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was struggling with academic writing, finishing a paper and putting together a research proposal. I agree this book does put forward a very simple message, however it is done in an extremely motivating way. Helped me when I was stuck, I would recommend this alongside Howard Becker's 'writing for social scientists.'
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really constructive book 3 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
Really helpful for academics who need or want to change their writing mindset, writing habits, and writing productivity.
Though written by and primarily for academic and broadly experimental psychologists, this is a very helpful book for any academic writer (I am a social scientist working mainly in qualitative methods).
Silvia usefully discusses writing schedules, blocks to writing, and various tools to help get into and maintain good writing habits.
He has a personable, clear and nicely humorous style. I have found some books of this type rather admonishing, but I did not find that here.
I have already recommended this book to both postgrads and to faculty colleagues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this as a 1st year undergraduate 19 Mar 2013
By Ywan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I discovered this book two weeks before the submission of my undergraduate dissertation. My academic life would have been much simpler, had I discovered it two years earlier.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small but mighty! 11 Jan 2012
By Ben
Format:Paperback
This is a very motivating short read. The message is simple and effective - to write a lot you need to set yourself a schedule and stick to it. But the book has much more to it than just this. It also has some really good tips on how to keep yourself motivated, and some notes on writing well.

The central message is well researched and argued, and written in a way that is straightforward and direct. This is a small but mighty little read, and I would recommend it to friends.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sit down and write regularly -- no more, no less 10 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback
This is a useful book for those totally new to academic writing, yet I am not sure if seasoned writers will take much away from it. It entails no detailed insights into how to generate new ideas or how to organize lots of material. It simply says: don't "find" time to write but "allot" a time for writing in your daily schedule, then stick to it religiously. Useful and true, but why write 135 pages on it?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you struggle as I do with a weight of worry about how to get...
This book states the obvious, yet it does it in such a way that it is certainly an obvious that never occurred to me before. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful
The book says a lot of things we already know - 'just get on with it' - but is done in a humorous and well structured way that motivates and reinforces the desire to write. Read more
Published 1 month ago by decisivedave
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful for PhD
I have only discovered this book recently, read it in a day, and change my wrong writing habits. I was one of those saying "I am waiting for an inspiration to write" and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by maria
5.0 out of 5 stars Persuasive, entertaining, encouraging
Useful book! Most useful on academic writing so far. Very persuasive. Technical but written clearly in plain speak for non-English types to really start improving the appeal and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nora Ann McIntyre
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, easy to read and motivating book
I'm in my final year of a biology PhD and starting to struggle with all the writing deadlines I have. Read more
Published 6 months ago by H. Speight
1.0 out of 5 stars what a waste of time
I find it really hard to understand how books like this get published in the first place. From start to finish many repetitions. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Frankimoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
First book purchased on Amazon, worth reading and learn a lot about how to carry on academic writing. You should not miss it.
Published on 1 Nov 2011 by Xinhong
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for all PhD students
This book is an easy-to-read book that helps a student plan writing time! Does exactly what it says on the tin (...well, book cover! Read more
Published on 26 July 2011 by Bangor Student
5.0 out of 5 stars This book just might have changed my life for the better
It's too early to say whether the development in the last couple of weeks, since I got this book, is significant and lasting, but my feeling is that the book has nudged me towards... Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2011 by Scientific Underdog
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