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How to write a lot: a Book Review

Review of the book by Paul J. Silvia “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing”

Unleash Your Inner Wordsmith: Academic Writing Mastery with “How to Write a Lot”

To my fellow students and academics: welcome to a place where ideas flow freely and productivity knows no bounds. Are you tired of staring blankly at your computer screen, grappling with the elusive art of academic writing? Never fear! In this post, I share a great resource that can revolutionise your writing habits and free your inner writer: Paul J. Silvia’s “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing”

We all know the feeling. You make yourself a cup of coffee and settle down to face the daunting challenge of academic writing. But as the clock ticks on, your cursor refuses to budge, and your brilliant ideas seem to evaporate. When perfectionism and procrastination work together, they form an impenetrable wall between you and your masterpiece.

Paul J. Silvia emerges from the shadows as our guiding light, our guru, and our writing muse. Silvia’s book, “How to Write a Lot,” is a gold mine of information for writers who want to increase their output and overcome common roadblocks.

Silvia understands the importance of routine and will assist you in developing one that will make you forget all about your fear of the blank page. Learn the value of frequent, brief writing sessions that fit neatly into your busy schedule, and say goodbye to the days of waiting for elusive blocks of uninterrupted time.

Every writer’s worst enemy—writer’s block—has met its match in Silvia’s arsenal of methods. Get ready to vanquish this formidable foe by practising freewriting, establishing reasonable goals, and appreciating the value of rough draughts and bad writing days. Silvia shares the keys to effective academic writing, including the necessity of clear objectives and the practise of revision.

In this review, I will discuss the key strengths and weaknesses of the book, as well as its potential audience, the impact and the verdict.


  1. This book offers students, researchers, and scholars concrete advice on how to increase their productivity in academic writing. 
  2. Paul J. Silvia’s writing is clear and concise, making it simple for readers to understand and implement his ideas in their own writing.
  3. The book stresses the necessity of establishing a regular writing routine, which is essential for sustained productivity and academic writing success.
  4. Silvia recognises the difficulties writers face, including procrastination and writer’s block, and provides strategies for overcoming these issues.
  5. The author emphasises the importance of setting clear and attainable writing goals to help students, researchers, and academics maintain their motivation and focus.
  6. Silvia stresses the significance of editing and revising academic writing, supplying helpful advice on how to enhance readability and consistency.
  7. REALISTIC, with a healthy regard for the work-life balance. In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial traits. Silvia doesn’t advocate putting in excessive hours, becoming a workaholic, or devoting one’s life to writing. 
  8. My personal beliefs about academic writing and publication are reflected in this book. Enjoy writing, write good ideas, don’t publish for the sake of publications. Make science that is both engaging and high-quality. Don’t fall for the “publish or perish” culture.

My favourite quote: 

“While you read this book, remember that writing isn’t a race or a game. Write as much or as little as you want. Don’t feel that you ought to write more than you want to write, and don’t publish fluffy nonsense just for the sake of publishing. Don’t mistake people with a lot of publications for people with a lot of good ideas. Our aim is to write up what we’re passionate about while still having a life.”

(Silvia, 2007, p. 8)


  1. The book covers academic writing in general, so it’s useful for students in a wide range of fields, but it doesn’t go into great detail about how to write in specific disciplines. In any case, there isn’t enough room. The article writing section would satisfy those, who are writing following the IMRAD structure.
  2. Some readers may find that particular topics are only scratched at the surface, and they may wish for more in-depth instruction in those areas.
  3. The book focuses primarily on the writing process and does not cover the research process, which may leave some readers wanting guidance in conducting research.
  4. While this book is great for writers who thrive on routine and organisation, it may not be a good fit for those who thrive on the freedom of experimenting with new forms and techniques.

In general, there are fewer weaknesses than there are positives.

Controversial quote:

“Writer’s block isn’t a real thing: it’s a shorthand label for “sometimes writing is especially hard” that some people elevate to an inscrutable, fickle force. Just as aliens abduct only people who believe in alien abductions, writer’s block afflicts only writers who believe in it. Productive writers follow their writing schedule regardless of whether they feel like writing. Some days they don’t write much—writing is a grim business, after all—but they’re nevertheless sitting and writing, oblivious to the otherworldly halo hovering above their house.” 

(Silvia, 2007, p. 45)

Potential Audience

Who should read this book, and why, and how will they benefit?

  1. Firstly, students who are constantly required to write would benefit greatly from reading this book. Undergraduate and postgraduate students who are new to the world of academic writing will find this book helpful. It gives them actionable advice on how to boost their writing output without sacrificing quality. 
  2. Second, the broad spectrum of academics and researchers would benefit greatly from reading this book. It offers guidance on developing effective writing habits, setting goals, and navigating the publication process. Even if you’re well into your academic career, this book will still provide you with useful advice and strategies.  It’s a helpful reminder of how vital it is to stick to a regular writing schedule, overcome obstacles, and keep honing one’s writing skills.
  3. There is a lot of useful information for non-academic writers with research-heavy jobs in this book. Industry researchers, policy analysts, or consultants, can also find value in this book. The principles and strategies discussed can be adapted to their writing needs, allowing them to increase productivity and effectively communicate research findings. 

The book is written primarily for an academic audience, but the principles and strategies it presents are useful for any type of writing. Therefore, individuals outside the academic realm who seek to improve their writing productivity may also find value in this book.


One of the key impacts of the book is its ability to help readers increase their writing productivity. The book equips writers with the tools they need to produce more writing on a consistent basis by offering guidance on developing a writing routine, defining specific goals, and overcoming common obstacles like procrastination and writer’s block.

Another important impact is that the book focuses on developing effective writing habits and strategies. It urges authors to make writing a top priority, schedule regular, short writing sessions, and enjoy the editing process. By adopting these habits, writers can enhance the quality and coherence of their academic writing.

Last but not least, Silvia’s advice and insight can give authors faith in their own abilities. The book provides a road map for navigating the academic writing process and provides practical techniques for overcoming obstacles. Writers can improve their writing and approach their work with a more positive and productive frame of mind by using the suggested strategies.

Three main reasons for reading the book

  1. Writing isn’t easy. Every day won’t be a breeze.  It can be fun, hard, flowing, stalling, slow or fast. This book gives you a realistic way to look at writing. 
  2. The book gives you some great tips on creating your writing schedules and write regularly, calmly and without stress.
  3. The book is very practical. This is a fantastic manual, not just for theoretical considerations.

Final verdict

Do I recommend this book to students and clients? Yes!

Is it the ONLY resource you might need to learn writing your articles? No. It is always a combination, isn’t it?

Will it fit all disciplines? No. But this book is more about writing strategies than discipline-specific advice.

Is it REALLY possible to write a lot? I believe so. It’s a matter of dedication and schedule. Make up your mind and just do it.

Hope this was helpful. Do you have any questions? Or do you have another book/topic you’d like me to write about?

Silvia, P. J. (2007). How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. United Kingdom: American Psychological Association.

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