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One of the things I learned as a graduate student, and that I’ve come to depend on more over time, is the power of the blank document.  Yes, it is scary to face an empty Word (or Pages or TextWrangler) document starting at you from your computer screen.  If you are old-school, it is also scary to open to a new page in your notebook.  If you are green, it can be scary to pull out that GOOS (still Good On One Side) piece of paper and look at the empty space.

However, the way I try to think about it is that I have nowhere to go but up.  Name the file and save it? BAM. Type in “Materials and Methods”?  SNAP.  It’s all downhill from here.  The paper (or grant proposal or talk) is now practically written.  Heh.

I do get stuck sometimes while writing, but generally I try to keep this attitude throughout the process so that I constantly feel like I’m accomplishing something.  This gives me some positive feedback, and helps me get through the rough times.  At no point do I look at a blank document and think, “ZOMG! I have to write a paper worthy of Science in the next week!11!!” (Not that I’ve ever published in Science.)  I just try to think, “Okay! Next: a paragraph about this particular part of the results.”  Then, when I finish it, I give myself major props and move on. It works for me.

I once knew someone who picked a new font every day just to keep herself interested.  Is there anything special that helps you write?

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