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Writing: celebrate success today

As a researcher, the pressure to publish can seem daunting. When English is not your first language, the pressure can shift from daunting to paralysing and even getting the first words onto paper or screen can seem a lifetime away. One reason for this is because you are thinking about the end result: the published paper, in a respected English-language journal that will express your research with clarity and conviction and impress your peers and your boss.

Banish these thoughts from your head and just focus on today. Set yourself a target of a number of words to get onto a page. Don't think about the grammar and the structure, don’t think about clauses and tenses, don't think about what your boss is going to think. Don't even bother checking the spelling and if you can't think of the word in English, write it in your own language, or any language, or even draw a picture to remind you what you want to say - just get those words (and pictures) down.

Then, when your target is reached - or close enough to it (don't be too hard on yourself!), walk away. Close your computer, make a drink, take a rest, go for a walk. Congratulate yourself on achieving your target for the day. Be kind to yourself. Then, well, I’ll tell you what to do next another time, for today I have reached my word count - I’m off for a cup of tea, a chocolate biscuit and a walk.