Jul 3, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes


The mere title of this article may have just made you do a double-take. After all, the thought of adding the task of writing a book to your graduate student research and writing commitments may seem laughable. However, delve deeper and you might discover it actually makes a good bit of sense. Read on for five reasons why all graduate students should think about writing books of their own.


1. The process is similar to writing a thesis.

Forbes recently declared writing a book to be “the new master's degree.” Its argument? “The two are actually surprisingly similar. The process of writing a book involves compiling hundreds of pages of your own thoughts, finding sources to back up your findings or inspire your fictions, pouring your heart and soul onto the page - and then taking a critical eye to it all and cutting parts that may have taken days or weeks to write, but are no longer relevant.”

In fact, the biggest difference the article identifies between being a graduate student and writing a book is that the former comes with a built-in support network which you lose when you leave campus. The takeaway? Writing a book while you’re still a student can help you make the most of this benefit. 


2. It’s an investment in your future.

If your goal is to go into academia, publications are an important part of positioning yourself on the career track. While most graduate students publish papers and book chapters, writing and publishing a book can be an impressive differentiating factor.

Of course, this only applies if the book is related to your field or to academia in a pertinent way. But what if you’re finally getting around to writing what you’re sure will be the next Harry Potter? It may not land you a teaching position in your field at a university, but a net worth of $1 billion sounds okay to us, too. 


3. Knowledge is a commodity.

As a graduate student, you’ve likely already amassed a great deal of expertise in your field. This means you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes time to sit down and put pen to paper. But in writing a book, you’re not just calling on your expertise, you’re also establishing it. If you’re not aiming for academia, writing a book is a promising way to market yourself -- both as an employee with initiative as well as an entrepreneur.

Insists Medium, “Simply put, writing books is no longer just for authors. It’s for anyone who wants to gain upward mobility. And it’s for anyone who has something worth saying, or teaching―which is everyone. Power is rapidly shifting from the corporation to the individual, but it won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. You have to seize it.”

The best part? Since you’re in graduate school, you’ve already got the writing skills. Now, you just need to direct them into the task of writing your book. (Put that way it almost sounds easy!)


4. Writing is free.

Most students live notoriously cash-strapped lives. When it comes to tracking down cheap forms of entertainment, you’ll find none better than sitting down and writing.

Not only that, but while many people think extracurricular writing during graduate school may interfere with their theses, the reality is that it can actually help move your research and writing forward.Next Scientist recommends “writing about anything that comes to mind” as a strategy for sparking creativity. “Ideas are born with writing,” the article insists. “And the more you write the more ideas you will have.” 

As you write more, you’ll also continue to hone your communication skills, which will come in handy throughout life -- whether or not publication is in your future.


5. The process of publishing a book also has value.

So you finished writing your book. Take a second to pat yourself on the back...and then a deep breath because your work is far from over. In fact, the act of taking a work from completed manuscript to published book is an intensive process requiring creativity, patience and perseverance.

If your book is academic in nature and you’ll be submitting it to academic presses, your university may have guidelines available to you. (If not, check out these guidelines.)

If your book is not academic in nature, you have many options ranging from traditional publishers to the brave new world of self-publishing. Researching your options, submitting your manuscripts, responding to feedback, and adjusting course if necessary can all help you become a more resilient, persistent individual. (Which brings us back to JK Rowling, whose many letters of rejection are ample inspiration for all aspiring authors to keep at it.)

Still not convinced? Think of it this way: Writing is a habit, and you’re already immersed in the process as a graduate student. So whether you start planning for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this fall or begin writing right now at this very moment, there may not be another time in your life when you’re so primed for productivity.


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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