The purpose of writing is to transmit ideas, says Andrew Johnson, professor of Holistic Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, not to show the reader how much you know about a particular subject. “I approach articles and books as if the reader knows nothing,” he said. “I enter a teaching mode, trying to make things as simple as possible. I have to bring my ideas to the reader. I’m not famous enough for the reader to come to me.”
Many people struggle greatly with writing reports and essays. From developing topics, to conducting research, to formulating their non-fiction documents, the process of writing reports and essays can be such an unwelcome task that some people consider it a cruel punishment.
Here are five successful strategies I have used with many professionals and students that can serve as a stepping stone to transforming these experiences of dread into confidence:
It may be intimidating to have to turn in a paper according to a specific set of style guidelines, but if you just follow a step-by-step process it’s not all that difficult. Here’s a basic checklist of the fundamental issues. It’s just a starting point, but check it against your style guidelines and you should be set. Style manuals are hundreds of pages; universities and journals often have additional specific requirements. But don’t be intimidated. There’s a lot of detail that you probably won’t face. This list is primarily aimed at dissertation writers, but the principles are the same for journals.
Rather than seeing the peer review process as negative, veteran academic authors William Stallings and Francine McKenzie encourage authors to see it as a valuable opportunity to improve their work.
McKenzie, an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, said authors should see peer reviews as part of a process of improving a piece and one’s writing skills in general. “Think of peer review as more an intellectual exchange than a judgment,” she said. “With this mindset, authors can approach peer review with enthusiasm instead of apprehension.”
Receiving a TAA Textbook Award is not only a great honor, it can also be used to increase book sales and advance your writing career.
Judy Rasminsky, coauthor of Challenging Behavior in Young Children and Challenging Behavior in Elementary and Middle School, both of which have received TAA Textbook Excellence (Texty) Awards, said she and her coauthor Barbara Kaiser have leveraged the award in several ways, including:
If you develop a good business and personal relationship with your editor, you can get a better feel for how they can provide you with support, said Marilyn “Winkie” Fordney, the author of insurance billing and medical assisting books.
“Find out where the person came from and whether they have been in business for a long time,” she said. “Find out about their personal life. Do they have children? If they do, you’ll know that if sometimes they are unavailable, it might be because their children are sick. When you visit with them, bring toys for their kids. This shows that you remembered about their children.”