The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: February 5, 2016

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it W. Somerset Maugham — 'I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.'strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
—W. Somerset Maugham

Do you sit and write religiously at the same time every single day? Disciplined like a marathon runner is to running every morning? Sometimes discipline and routine come easy. We have a goal that we want to achieve or a passion we are pursuing. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to be disciplined. We have to force ourselves to show up every day. Rewards and fast approaching deadlines do this well. Even frequent breaks and a change of scenery can help. But what other strategies do you use? What do you do on those days when anything at all seems more appealing than sitting to write?

Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: April 10, 2015

It’s a gloomy day here in Wisconsin. Rain hasWriting is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. been falling steadily out my window since sunrise. You might think that on a day like today the words would flow easily on to my page, no outside temptation would be there to pull at my desires to be biking or running instead of writing. In fact the opposite happens. Raining days make me want to curl up in a blanket in my big comfy chair, read a book, and sip hot coffee from a large mug. On sunny days my motivation is in full force, the sun shining through my window and pushing me to work harder and faster so that I can get out the door and onto my bike. [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…]