Cultivating your writing garden

cultivate your gardenI admit to being addicted to quotes. I have kept a list for years and it grows with each book I read. “Let us cultivate our garden,” is a well-known aphorism by Voltaire. It applies to so many areas of life: relationships, work, gardening, and of course, writing.

Quite a few authors or would-be authors I speak with feel unsure or uncertain about their writing and editing skills. I get it. Most authors have spent years honing their content mastery and little of their precious “free time” on becoming better writers or editors. [Read more…]

The changing nature of ye olde academic writing

classic booksLikely we all remember Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. It was written in the late 1300’s in Middle English. Here are the first few lines:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,    

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,        

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;          

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

I am sure we are all flashing back to high school and suffering though this classic long work. Most of us read an updated version written in modern English, thankfully. Likely you remember the discussion of the evolution of language. [Read more…]

Can blogging help get you published?

blogging to publishedBlogging is often discussed and sometimes misunderstood, as it relates to academic publishing. Some people feel it takes away from valuable book or article writing time.  This can be true, depending on how disciplined (or not) a person is. Others feel the format is so free form that it does not help hone the skills of an academic writer.

I think blogging can be a valuable addition to your writing life. The blog can be professional, like my relatively new blog on scholarly publishing, or personal. Regardless, here are some reasons to consider blogging and how doing so may help get your work published: [Read more…]

Why we write

Why we writeWhy are you writing? Next week is Peer Review Week which makes this a great time to discuss what may seem like a simple question. Perhaps all peer review (or all writing endeavors) should start with Why.

To fully understand what drives your effort as a writer, ask yourself why you are embarking on writing that article, textbook, monograph, etc. Here are some reasons that I have heard in the past. [Read more…]

Stop and speak

read aloudI have been listening to a lot of audiobooks. Add these to the podcasts I subscribe to, and I have converted much of my leisure and professional “reading” to listening. In turn, I have come to appreciate a good narrator or speaker more than ever before.

What I have also become cognizant of is non-optimal writing. I have suggested for years to the authors I work with, to read all their work out loud. And yes, that includes scholarly journal articles and books. It can seem duplicative or even laborious, but it is very beneficial. [Read more…]

Open access is now: Good news or bad news?

open signAt the TAA Conference in Philadelphia this past month, I heard many comments about open access. They varied widely from support, to derision, to misunderstanding, to apathy.

First, what is open access? In its purest form, open access is offering or publishing material online, free of cost or barriers with an open license that removes most restrictions on use and reuse. The open access or OA movement has been around twenty plus years with its roots going back much farther than that. [Read more…]

Improving your research, writing, and publishing through networking

conference networkingTo many, the word networking is business-speak, a bit like strategic planning, buy-in, thinking outside the box, leverage, or core competencies.

But your network, however big or small, can be the key to improving all aspects of your academic output. It is no coincidence that this blog entry appears the week of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. This event, and others like it, offer the best opportunities to make connections and therefore improve your scholarly work. [Read more…]

Self-editing: Making your work its best possible self

self-editingThe thought of editing your work evokes many responses. While some people do enjoy refining their writing, some people view it as a chore. Others feel insecure about their ability to edit anything, let alone their own work.

Here are some self-editing best practices to smooth the tasks ahead: [Read more…]

Choosing an editor: Making sure you are on the same page

choosing an editorAcademic authors often feel confident in their subject matter expertise when writing a book or journal article. Many authors, however, feel less secure about their writing and editing skills. In my twenty-five plus years of experience, this assessment is usually off base. Most academic authors actually have solid skills needed to express themselves and their complex material.

Nonetheless, authors many times want editorial support prior to their submission or while they are writing their work. I have previously written about whether to “Go it alone or with a Guide.” If you have decided to utilize an editor, this post will focus on how you go about choosing one. [Read more…]

Editing: Going it alone or with a guide

editingYou have a vision of the work you want to write. You’ve laid out a plan for a textbook or monograph (or article). You might have a book contract, or you may be doing the work prospectively. The writing is done. You breathe a sigh. But how about the editing?

Many writers and academics feel comfortable with the content creation, that is the writing. But they may feel less qualified with that pesky editing. Split infinitives, that or which, ending a sentence in a preposition, and a thousand other archine rules haunt some writers and sap their confidence about their work. [Read more…]