How to ... Stay Motivated and Hold Yourself Accountable (A review of the Wordly App)

Katie Trostel's picture

If you’re like me, getting back to dissertation writing after a long summer can be a challenge...

...particularly as the fall quarter tends to be full of other distracting tasks (Job market! Fellowship applications! Getting your teaching materials ready! Conference abstracts!)

As many of my academic advisors over the years have pointed out, you don’t have to write that much a day to get the job done. If you can sustain regular hours of productive, writing sessions at set intervals throughout the week, you will finish the dissertation! The key is motivating yourself to stick to your writing schedule…

As a member of a dissertation-writing group (shout out to my Writing Groupies at UCSC!) we even devised a system of rewards using those gold star stickers elementary school teachers award to children.

This year – which I hope is my final year of dissertating – I wanted to try something new. Rather than focus on how many pages I could crank out a day, I thought focusing on sustaining a set number of hours would be more productive. As I enter this final phase of grad school, and work towards professionalization, I have more obligations competing for my time. Therefore, I needed to be able to hold myself accountable.

For the past month, I have been experimenting with the app “Wordly.” Wordly doesn’t let me cheat. It doesn’t let me round up to the nearest hour. It keeps me honest with myself. Because I don’t care about word count, I made up an arbitrary word goal for my project – and often enter arbitrary numbers. What I care about is the total number of focused writing hours I can put in daily, montly, and weekly.

Below you can find some of the information that Wordly has tracked for me. Basically, you are able to monitor each writing session with a built in timer, and are then asked to record how many words you produce in a given amount of time. You can then review how many words and for how many hours you worked on a project by day, week, month, and year. So far, it’s been surprisingly motivating, and I plan to keep it up for the remainder of the semester.

What do you do to motivate yourself to write? Share your thoughts with us!

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(H-Net is receiving no compensation for reviewing the digital tools featured in the blogposts in this series).



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