My first year’s “secret”


Thanks to those of you (n=12) who voted that I continue this journey.  Here goes my second post.

For this one, I thought I would pass along my most important lesson learned from year 1 of my PhD studies.  My title refers to this as my “secret”, but in truth, this practical tip is quite common in the academic community and is almost sacred to those who practice it.


Earth-shattering, isn’t it?  Well, no.  In order to learn a craft that is unfamiliar, one must pursue it diligently and practice it.  Once I read about this tip from Tanya over at (her blog is a must-read for all PhD students), it was a game-changer for me in my writing productivity.

And by writing every day, I mean every weekday for at least 1 hour.  Once I figured out that my best writing happened in the mornings, I set aside this sacred time to write first thing in my morning before I do anything else.  I get up, grab a cup of coffee, and dive in for 1 hour.  I know…1 hour per day doesn’t sound all that much, but it is a life-changing daily habit!  I noticed several changes when I started doing this last year:  I was able to turn in all of my coursework paper assignments days early while continuing to work on outside projects (i.e. presentations, publications, GTA work, etc.).

Here are some of my first year writing/scholarly accomplishments:

-Published multiple articles in Counseling Today (monthly professional magazine)

-First peer review article accepted for publication (in press – cheers!!)

-Wrote a book review that has been accepted for publication (in press)

-Submitted a 2nd article for peer review (currently in revise & resubmit stage)

-Gave 2 different presentations (state convention and a local research conference)

-Accepted an associate editor position for a statewide professional journal

These are all in addition to taking 22 credit hours of coursework, facilitating several weekly supervision groups, being a GTA, serving on a national ethics committee, and running a private practice business of seeing 10-12 clients per week!

I hope this is not received as a bragging list, but as a motivation for you to write every day.  Will you be different from me?  Absolutely, you will discover your own level of productivity.  Maybe you will write more.  Maybe less.  However, I challenge you to try this tip for at least 4-6 weeks and see what happens.  If I was a betting man, I would wage the house that you will increase not only your level of productivity, but you will also greatly enhance your skill in this craft that many Jewish scribes consider a holy practice.

12 thoughts on “My first year’s “secret”

  1. Keith,

    May our Lord continue to
    bless you as you study and
    provide strength as you
    juggle responsibilities! May
    He grant you wisdom and
    compassion as you minister
    to your clients.

    I am very proud of you, and
    I love you more than words
    can express. 💖


  2. Great question!

    Thanks for replying Ellsworth. =)

    Well, the good news is that the more you write, the better you will become.

    I would say part of this question is answered by obtaining others’ feedback about your work. Asking a colleague who writes regularly or who is published to review your work is a good idea. Another option would be to submit your writing to a copy editor. Sometimes you can find these for $25 per hour or so. Also, finding a graduate student (MFA in writing) might be helpful, too, and cheaper than an editor.

    These are 3 specific ways you can ascertain if what you’re doing is quality work. Hope this helps!


  3. Phenomenal! I too write best in the morning and edit best at night. This will certainly come in handy when I tame the beast called dissertation. However, there is no need to apologize for being great and accomplished. Brag on. You worked hard for it. Keep up with your Vita and make things happen. I see the potential. Just awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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