“Code-switching” for Productivity

As you might guess, writers often contact an academic writing coach because they feel stuck — either in making progress on a single project or with their larger writing agenda. These writers are looking for guidance on how to write more efficiently, more productively, and with less pain and frustration.  Of course, there are many, many strategies available, and part of the work of the coach is to help each writer identify and develop strategies that work for him or her.  For those open to a counterintuitive approach, I recommend this strategy from Theresa MacPhail: “code-switching.”

Code-switching usually refers to the practice of switching between two different languages in a single conversation. MacPhail uses the term metaphorically, to describe a process of working “on different subjects, in different fields, or in different genres all at once.”  MacPhail offers the image of a writer having several different documents open during a single writing session, toggling from one document to another as ideas develop or barriers arise. A writer could use the approach in more structured ways, too, such as working on different projects at different times of the day or on different days of the week.  The key, though, is to be writing in different “codes” in each document. For example, one work-in-progress could be an academic journal article, another could be a private diary, and another could be an op-ed or magazine article for a general audience. By switching to projects in another code, the writer has an opportunity to take a mental break while still maintaining momentum in the writing process.


MacPhail, T. (2016, January 8). Code-switching to improve your writing and productivity. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1242-code-switching-to-improve-your-writing-and-productivity?cid=VTEVPMSED1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s