From: Elisa S Mattison

Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 5:04 PM

To: Shelley L Chapman

Subject: FW: [MARKETING] Productive Writer #9: Need a Writing Intervention?




Elisa Mattison M.A., Director

Graduate School

University of Alaska Anchorage



From: Productive Writer []
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 4:37 PM
To: Elisa S Mattison
Subject: [MARKETING] Productive Writer #9: Need a Writing Intervention?




The Productive Writer














Boice, R. (1990). Professors as writers: A self-help guide to productive writing. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press. 




Some of the information in the Productive Writer draws from previously published work, and I have tried to properly attribute the ideas and work of others. If I fail to do so, please let me know so I can clarify and correct. 







Hjortshoj, K. (2010). Writing from A to B: A guide to completing the dissertation phase of doctoral studies.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.






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Productive Writers from 146 graduate schools in 14 countries.


Need a Writing Intervention?       


A person who has not done one half of his day's work by ten o'clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone. ~ Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights 


How much writing would you get done if you were told to abstain from writing or to write only when you were inspired?


Boice (1990) reported on a "writing intervention" with faculty members, each of whom reported problems getting their writing finished, yet all had perfectly manageable writing projects to complete. Boice assigned faculty to one of three conditions. Perhaps the most desired assignment was given to faculty who were told not to write for 10 weeks except "in case of emergency." Faculty in this "abstinence" group assumed that the 10 weeks away from writing would let them develop more and better ideas for their writing.


Boice told a second group of faculty to schedule 50 writing sessions over 10 weeks but to write only if they felt in the mood to write. These "spontaneous" writers also predicted they would experience more creative writing ideas. Boice told the remaining faculty to schedule 50 writing sessions over the 10 weeks. There was one catch: Those who did not write at least three pages during each of these scheduled times (for a minimum total of 150 pages) would have a check they previously signed sent to an organization they hated. (The Democrats? The Republicans? The NRA? Planned Parenthood?) Faculty in this "expensive contingency" group, clearly having drawn the short straw, predicted that they might be productive but definitely not creative.


Do you know what happened? The group "forced" to write produced over three times as much as the spontaneous group and over 15 times as much as the abstinence group. By the faculty members' self-report, the third group, forced to write with an expensive contingency, had a "useful, novel idea" each writing day; the rate was half as often and a fifth as often for the other two groups, respectively. One faculty member, forced to write, said: "It really isn't what I thought it would be. I don't feel pressure.... It feels good to be so self-disciplined. What I really like, though, is how easy it is to start writing. No struggle. I look forward to it. Sometimes I'm tempted to start sooner. That sure doesn't sound like me" (Boice, 1990, p. 81).


So if you are in need of a writing intervention, schedule your daily sessions for the remainder of the summer, write that check and give it to a friend who will hold you accountable...and write!


How much have you written today?



Jan Allen


Jan Allen, Associate Dean 

Academic and Student Affairs

Cornell University Graduate School






354 Caldwell Hall

Ithaca, NY 14850



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