Are you in self-isolation and required to work from home? Then this is an excellent time to finish those articles that were already half-written and start writing the ones you had planned.

Before you start working at home, check whether you have all the essentials: a good computer and screen, the required computer programs (such as a reference management program), a printer with enough paper and ink, all data, and a good internet connection. If your housemates (partner, children) are also working from home, make clear agreements about times when you can write undisturbed and set up a real workplace as much as possible.

writing from home starts with a good workplace
writing at home (image: Ikea)


If you were not yet using a program for managing the references in your articles, this is an excellent time to start using one. Then you can begin writing your article. If you don’t know where to start, the order described here might help. Many people start with the figures and tables to develop the story: what is a logical order, should you show more data? If you have many illustrations in color, then it may be useful to adjust your figures for color-blind people.

While writing, you will often have to search for additional articles for background information and as references, etc. You may never have given it any thought, but there are ways to improve the way you search the literature, you may want to check them out. The PDFs that you then want to read are sometimes difficult to get, because access through your institute is cumbersome or because they are behind a paywall. Read here how you can obtain almost all PDFs quickly and for free.

If you are not the only author, you should ask one or two co-authors for feedback on the content of your manuscript at an early stage. When the manuscript is almost finished, you can look for the journal that best suits your article. Here you will find tips for selecting a suitable journal. Once you choose a journal, read the instructions for authors carefully so that your article has the correct format before submitting it.

Most articles are not accepted for publication by the first journal to which they are submitted. If your article has been reviewed and was not immediately rejected, you can revise the article based on the comments of the reviewers.


Make sure you plan distractions in between writing sessions. Try to avoid corona information on social media and news sites, you know most of it by now, and the rest won’t make you any wiser or happier. Try to watch the news only once a day and get your corona information only from trustworthy sites such as the CDC or WHO. If you are not in total lockdown, try to go outside every day, for example, by working in the garden, taking a walk, cycling, or any other activity without contact with other people.

If you find it more challenging to keep writing rather than to take enough breaks, you may want to try out the Pomodoro technique. This technique was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that was used by its developer Francesco Cirillo. How it works: You set a timer for 25 minutes to write non-stop, then you set the timer for a minute break. One Pomodoro is 30 minutes. It is a simple and effective method.

Success!  Try to make the best of this difficult time!

writing with the Pomodoro technique may help you focus
the Pomodoro timer