Dr. Candi Cann talking with HESL doctoral candidate Jeff Strietzel at Dissertation Writing Lab last week.

Twenty-three Baylor doctoral students gathered every day last week for an intensive dissertation writing workshop (D-Lab). We met in the  Graduate Research Center (GRC) and spent most of our time (from 8:30-3:00) actively writing.  But before the hard work began, we opened with short guest talks. Professors from different departments throughout the university came and talked for 15 minutes each morning about their own writing strategies. I am so pleased to share with you one of these presentations. Dr. Candi Cann is an Associate Professor of Religion who also teaches in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. Her research focuses on death, dying, and the impact of remembering the dead. She is the author of three books and her scholarship is so well known that she was recently quoted in National Geographic.

Dr. Candi Cann’s Writing Strategy

I think acronyms are a little corny, but they DO help us remember things, so I’ve developed this one on writing, and thought I would share it.



Have a Life: This is probably the most important– have a life so that you come to your writing refreshed and ready. Exercise, read, hang out with your family. You will have a lot more to write about if you actually have a life. Having a life prevents the luxury of writer’s block.


Always Stop Before you are Finished: Stopping before you are finished means you are ready to write and know what you are going to write the moment you sit down (credit to Robert Boice on this one).


Be Consistent: Write for a set goal every writing day– whether it is 5,000 words or two hours…. just set a goal for every writing session that is manageable and meetable, so you have small victories along the way. These small victories will keep you motivated.


Integrate your writing into your daily life (not the other way around): Writing should be one piece of the puzzle, but is the piece that results from a life, not the part that becomes a life (I know, I’m sort of repeating myself here, but it’s important).


Time Yourself (write from habit, not inspiration; my preference is 9-11am everyday, and no more than that; a short time goal allows for consistency and is a manageable goal) Don’t write more than your goal, and don’t wait for inspiration to drive your writing. Write regularly and habitually.


Hope some of these tips help you and happy writing!