The Productive Graduate Student Writer

How to Manage Your Time, Process, and Energy to Write Your Research Proposal, Thesis, and Dissertation and Get Published

June 2019
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  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    21st June 2019
  • ISBN 9781620368916
  • Language English
  • Pages 180 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"
June 2019
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    24th June 2019
  • ISBN 9781620368909
  • Language English
  • Pages 180 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"
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July 2019
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  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    2nd July 2019
  • ISBN 9781620368923
  • Language English
  • Pages 180 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"

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July 2019
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • Published
    2nd July 2019
  • ISBN 9781620368930
  • Language English
  • Pages 180 pp.
  • Size 5.5" x 8.25"

This book is for graduate students--and others--who want to become more productive writers. It's especially written for those who want to:

• increase their motivation, focus, and persistence to move a project to completion
• overcome procrastination and perfectionistic tendencies
• reduce (or write in spite of) their anxiety and fear of writing
• manage their time, work, energy (and advisor) for greater productivity

The process or craft of sustained writing is not a matter that’s taught to undergraduate or graduate students as part of their studies, leaving most at sea about how to start a practice that is central to a career in academe and vital in many other professional occupations.

This book grew out of conversations Jan Allen has held with her graduate students for over 30 years and reflects the fruit of the writing workshops and boot camps she has conducted at three universities, her own and numerous colleagues’ experiences with writing and advising, as well as the feedback she receives from her popular Productive Writer listserv.

While Jan Allen recognizes that writing is not an innate talent for most of us, she demonstrates that it is a process based on skills which we can identify, learn, practice and refine. She focuses both on the process and habits of writing as well as on helping you uncover what kind of writer are you, and reflect on your challenges and successes. With a light touch and an engaging sense of humor, she proposes strategies to overcome procrastination and distractions, and build a writing practice to enable you to become a more productive and prolific writer.

Jan Allen proposes that you read one of her succinct chapters – each devoted to a specific strategy or writing challenge – each day, or once a week. When you find one that increases your concentration, motivation or endurance, make it a habit. Try it for two weeks, charting the resulting increased productivity. It will become part of your repertoire of writing and productivity tools to which you can progressively add.

"Writing proficiency is not just for graduate students in literature and history. Practicing professionals, regardless of field, devote much of their time to writing memos, policy briefs, proposals, reports, and other documents. This book is a gem: A gifted scholar and graduate school dean provides precisely the kind of practical, tested advice that all students need to write theses, dissertations, grant proposals, job applications, and scholarly articles efficiently. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who has ever suffered from the barriers to successful writing: procrastination, distractions, self-doubt, writer’s block, and an inability to accept any standard short of perfection."

Steven Mintz - University of Texas at Austin

"I wish I had had this book when I wrote my dissertation! Writing can often seem to be a lonely process. This book helps overcome that sense of isolation and offers important and practical suggestions for how to get unstuck and keep writing. It’s full of great advice, grounded in insights from many top writers and tested by the author herself.  I particularly liked her description of the power of writing groups to hold one accountable and provide an ongoing critique of your writing."

Jeffrey Engler, PhD, Vice President, Special Projects - Council of Graduate Schools

“Unfortunately, few graduate students start their programs with well-established habits of writing. Instead, they figure it out on their own; often relying on strategies that sufficed during their undergraduate years. Binge writing. Procrastinating. Mired in perfectionist gridlock.

Those strategies, however, don't work for doctoral writing. What to do? Shed the old habits and develop new ones. Easier said than done, of course. Fortunately, there is help. This book will set you on the right course.

Jan Allen has seen it all. For decades she has brought her empathetic wisdom to help graduate student writers find their voices and their writing rhythms. This book is a pithy distillation of her wisdom. She serves it up in bite-sized chunks. Use it as an energy burst to start your daily writing time and set your new habits into place.”

Chris M. Golde, Assistant Director of Career Communities for PhDs & Postdocs - Stanford University

"You eat a whale one bite at a time. As this practical book will convince you, you write a doctoral dissertation – or any other daunting assignment of scholarly writing – in much the same way.   Jan Allen’s encouraging voice and useful tips have helped graduate students at Columbia and Cornell finish the whale and earn the degree. The Productive Graduate Student Writer now makes her optimism and wisdom accessible to graduate students everywhere."

Cole M. Crittenden, Deputy Dean of the Graduate School - Princeton University

"Anyone interested in becoming a better writer will learn from The Productive Graduate Student Writer. Inspired by some of the best writers and grounded in extensive research, Dr. Allen offers up an easy to read, step-by-step, practice-based approach to managing the process, time, and energy it takes to complete a writing project. Graduate students as well as new faculty who follow the author’s pragmatic advice will not only become more productive but may also discover that, indeed, they are writers.”

Laurie Bellows, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs - University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"The Productive Graduate Student Writer: How to Manage Your Time, Process, and Energy to Write Your Research Proposal, Thesis, and Dissertation and Get Published provides students with all-in-one guide to managing grad school's demands. From working on and finishing a project both without and under deadlines to defining essential tasks, conducting research, and translating it to a dissertation, this addresses the basics student writers need to know to get projects completed in a more efficient manner. Unlike more general college how-to guides or creative writer's guides, The Productive Graduate Student Writer's focus on the routines, demands, and processes of grad school makes for a specialized presentation that provides exact details on the process of research and writing for grad students."

- Midwest Book Review

"Dr. Allen’s book is divided into two sections: tips on how to be a productive writer and tips on writing specific documents, such as grant proposals, a graduate thesis, a dissertation, and a journal article. She bases her theories and comments not only on her own experiences and research, but also cites other scholars and authors in making her case for how to be a productive writer. Her appendices at the end of the book provide step-by-step suggestions on how to monitor your progress, as well as steps for writing a dissertation proposal and planning for additional writing projects.

This book does present a concise and easy-to-understand methodology for being more productive in your writing. Her suggestions are simple and easy to follow, and come from her many years working with graduate students and scholars at multiple universities to help them with the task of writing. She also supports her experiences and research with that of other scholars who have written on helping graduate students be productive writers. I have shared this book with my doctoral students to help them in the writing process."

- Teachers College Record

Foreword—Chris M. Golde

1) Write Every Day
2) Schedule Your Writing
3) Write Early in the Day
4) Write a Very Bad First Draft
5) Set Writing Goals
6) Chart Your Progress
7) Preparing to Write
8) Write Before You Wake Up (What?)
9) Write with Deadlines
10) Develop and Use an Outline
11) Fill Your Reservoir
12) Avoid Distractions
13) Think Ahead and Plan Backwards
14) Getting to Flow
15) Avoid Binge Writing
16) Overcome Perfectionistic Tendencies
17) Stop Procrastinating—Now
18) Staying Motivated
19) The Last Five Minutes of Writing
20) Your Writing Environment
21) Stuck?
22) Revising and Editing
23) Time Management
24) Energy Management
25) Advisor Management
26) Practice Writing
27) Using a Writing Support Group
28) Responsible Writing
29) Writing a Graduate Fellowship Application
30 Writing a Grant Proposal 
31) Writing a Research Proposal
32) Writing a Thesis
33) Writing a Dissertation
34) Writing a Journal Publication
35) Writing a Book Proposal for an Editor or Agent
36) How to Think and Act Like a Writer

A) Your Writing Slogan
B) Writing Goals and Journal
C) Word Count Progress Chart
D) Twenty Steps to Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation Proposal or Prospectus
E) Think Ahead and Plan Backward
F) Sample Schedule for My Next Writing Project
G) Obstacles to Productive Writing
H) Working Through Writing Obstacles
I) Proposal, Thesis, Dissertation Progress Meeting Date
J) Peer Review and Critique
K) Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe
L) Writing Tips and Strategies
M) Resources for Academic Writers
About the Author

Jan E. Allen

Jan Allen is associate dean for academic and student affairs in the Graduate School at Cornell University, having previously served as assistant or associate dean of graduate studies at the University of Tennessee, Northwestern University, and Columbia University. She presents workshops on mentoring, teaching, and graduate student survival skills. She also hosts the Productive Writer listserv and curates a popular academic Web site,

writing skills; graduate students; time management