From Blank Page to Article Submission

Decorative: A blank page with "Blank page" written on the bottom


"Dealing with the Curse of the Blank Page" (post) "reverse engineer[s] the writing process" to "break down the big goal [of writing an article] into a series of small projects and tasks."

  • Each step is elaborated more fully in the post.

1. "Identify a template."

  • "[P]ick a journal that you want to publish in." .
  • "[P]ick a recent article that you can use as a template ... select an article that is similar in methodology and subfield."
  • "[D]econstruct the structure of a published article [to] ... create mini writing projects."

2. "Calculate a word count ratio."

  • Use the "recent article from your ideal journal": "go through it and calculate the word count ratio." 
  • "[C]ount the number of sections in the paper, determine the page length of each section, and calculate a ratio to determine how many words should be dedicated to each section." (See the post for an example.)
  • "[B]reaking down the word count ratio per section ... transforms a big, scary goal (draft a new article) into a smaller, more manageable and considerably less scary set of mini projects."

3. "Make a plan."

  • "[E]stimate how many days you’ll need to dedicate to each section."
  • "[A]ssume a modest writing goal of 300 to 400 words per day ... [D]on’t ... be overly aggressive on your daily goal, because you may set yourself up for failure."
  • "[A]ttach [the daily foal] to your calendar, and stick to the plan as best you can."
  • "[A]dd periodic days between working on each section for mind mapping, planning the next section you’ll write, or editing what you’ve written."
  • "The goal is ... [to] get the entire first draft of your article written as efficiently as possible."

4. "Create SMART goals" for each section that you draft.

  • "A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time specific."
  • "[U]se these same SMART goals the next time you are faced with the curse of the blank page."
  • See sample SMART goals for a literature review in the post.

5. "Let it go and celebrate."

  • "[S]hare the draft with a couple of trusted friends who have expertise in your subfield."
  • "[B]e specific about the type of feedback that you need and the amount of time you want a reader to spend reviewing it."
  • "[U]se targeted feedback to get your paper to 80 percent ..." 
  • "[D]on’t ... hang on to papers for unusually long periods of time ... you can count on a journal’s peer reviewers to identify new things they want you to incorporate into a resubmission."
  • "Once you’ve got your manuscript to 80 percent, submit it and celebrate!"
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