Book review: Paul Silvia’s How to Write a Lot

This is a short book (only 149, A5 pages), targeted at those that need to write in an academic context – papers, books, grant proposals, etc…


As promised by the book’s full title – “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing” – this book offers guidance on how to be more productive in your academic writing. The key tips offered by the author are:

  • Schedule regular writing sessions (and protect them)
  • Set out specific writing goals
  • Create accountability


If this advice sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The same key tips have been offered by others. For instance, Kerry Ann Rockquemore has offered similar advice for academics here; while Stephen King has covered similar ground (albeit about writing in general) in the book ‘On Writing’. So, in a sense, there is nothing unique about this book. And there are no ‘extras’, either, like worksheets (as in, for instance, Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks).


The book also has a few sections covering style issues. There is some advice on use of language and punctuation, as well as advice on how to structure various types of writing documents (e.g., for a book: start by creating an outline). I am not sure whether I feel that these sections were a bonus or a distraction, though.


In summary, the advice in the book was not ground-breaking, for me. But it is a useful – and easy to read – book. It is short, and it is written in a very straight forward, very accessible style. I actually found it hard to put this book down!


What have you been reading lately?

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