The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: September 18, 2015

“The best way to learn about writing is to study the work of other writers you admire.” – Jeffery Deaver

The best way to learn about writing_Deaver quoteIsn’t this an excellent bit of advice that Jeffery Deaver gives us? Do we not do this in our own writing, but also in other aspects of our lives? I think one piece is missing from his advice, however. I believe that you also have to find and study writers that have a similar tone, style, and voice to that of your own. All of those things make up who you are and who you are as a writer. Although, that isn’t to say that you still couldn’t learn something from someone that has a completely different kind of style. What is of importance, I think, is to always be reading and admiring, and of course writing, to help you grow as a writer. Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: January 16, 2014

“Writing: somewhere between torture and fun.” writing-somewhere between torture and funI’m not sure about you, but this is how I often feel about writing—more specifically the writing process. Writing can often be pleasurable and fun, but at times it can be torture to try and get words down on the page. Even more torture is the feedback and rejection that can come after pouring everything you had into a piece. Yet with all of that, I dare to say that the pleasure outweighs the torture and that true writers, whether textbook, academic or otherwise, can never stop because it is how they interact with the world.

My hope is that the articles below will help aid in making writing more pleasurable. And, as always, happy writing! [Read more…]

How to Write a Sophisticated, Dynamic Scholarly Argument

Tweed Gears

It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.

Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.

Another quirk I’ve noticed is that less effective manuscripts—whether they’re written by early-career scholars or not—tend to organize information into lists. That may not sound so damning, but lists become vulnerabilities when they are presented as arguments. [Read more…]

How to identify yourself as an academic writer

Identify yourself as a writerDoctoral study involves a transition from student to researcher; a key aspect of that transition is becoming an academic writer. This is not to say that most new PhDs would readily describe themselves as academic writers. But that level of accomplishment requires the development of a set of academic writing skills that were likely not present at the outset of doctoral study. It’s also likely the case that the development of those crucial skills was a significant challenge.

Why is doctoral writing such a challenge? This question is a vital one given the centrality of writing to all that we do as academics. It’s common for new graduate students to feel as though their writing skills have suddenly become worse, as though the adequate writing skills honed over their undergraduate years have abandoned them just when they need them the most. A linear trajectory that would naturally make us better writers with each passing year may seem a reasonable expectation, but the reality is more complicated than that. Understanding this reality can help novice academic writers start to approach writing in a more confident and efficient manner. [Read more…]