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Tips for putting words on the page

Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Rachel Toor.

“Frequently I talk with academics who feel they don’t write enough. Even people with a tenure blade dangling over their cervical vertebrae don’t usually have to reach far to find justifications for not getting stuff done. I don’t want to use the word ‘excuses,’ because they are often valid and real problems, and I don’t want to minimize how hard it is to have something to say and find the right way to say it.

Friends of mine who are in the creative-writing field (such a strange misnomer; what writing, I ask, is not creative?) mostly don’t have a hard time finding the discipline to get the writing done. It’s the most important thing we do—even those of us who have day jobs as professors—because it often goes to the deepest issues of identity. It’s not only what we do but who we are. If we are not writing, we are nothing. For many academics, however, writing is what comes after the real and engaging work. It’s like having to wash the dishes after preparing an elaborate meal.”

Toor asks, “What can scholars learn from other kinds of writers to help them put words on the page?”