Are you a linear or circular writer?

typing on keyboardSome writers feel comfortable and can be productive following the sage advice of the King in Alice in Wonderland to the White Rabbit: “Begin at the beginning . . . and go on till you come to the end.” Other writers, though, wail internally or aloud, “But I don’t know where/how to begin!” Trying to follow that command only increases their angst and intensifies creative paralysis.

No Beginning

When I coach doctoral candidates as they begin writing, I often advise them not to start at the beginning, that is, with Chapter 1. They sometimes think I’m nuts, but, a heretic in the King’s court, I’ve got sound reasons. In the first chapter of a dissertation or introduction in an article, the writer must present a thorough and concise overview of the problem investigated or reported on. This presentation requires (a) great familiarity with the breadth of the topic and (b) greater familiarity with previous studies of the subject. [Read more…]

eBook Download: 5 Distinguishing Features of Academic Writing

5 Distinguishing Features of Academic Writing ebook coverDuring Academic Writing Month 2019, TAA hosted a series of #AcWriChat TweetChat events focused on the distinguishing features of academic writing. Throughout the series we explored five academic writing features: Precision, Complexity, Formality, Objectivity, and Accuracy.

This eBook brings together the discussions and resources from those events.

Download. View TAA’s entire library of ebooks.

Take your work on a date

date nightWhat strategies do you use to make your writing enjoyable? In her TAA Conference presentation, “Creative Scheduling for Those Who Have ‘All the Time in the World’ and ‘No Time At All’”, Katy Peplin shared what it looks like to “take your work on a date”.

Before planning to crash your next romantic outing with your journal article, the following is meant to prepare for an exciting opportunity to grow closer to your work, not your soulmate. Peplin shares a five-step process for this productive writing strategy. [Read more…]

Seize the day

carpe diemThe Coronavirus or Covid-19 has changed the rules of the game for virtually all of us. I hope you and your family are staying safe and that there is a return to normalcy for all of us in the near future.

Until then, we have a lot of disruption to deal with. Perhaps sheltering in place at home, teaching online classes, family concerns, and much more. In the realm of writing, however, perhaps this is an opportunity instead of a concern. [Read more…]

How to battle distraction and maintain consistency in a crisis

distracted studentHaving spent the better part of the last month in social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we are all faced with additional distractions from the media, environmental changes, and perhaps more time with family members in our current workspace than ever before. Whether facing personal fears, trying to maintain a sense of “normal”, or directly dealing with the effects of the crisis, it’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of our goals.

John C. Maxwell says, “a distraction is something that pulls us away from progress and confuses us.” Further, he notes that a distraction is the opposite of traction and identifies three main types of distractions during a crisis: mind wandering, negative thinking, and uncertain anxiety. In this post, we offer clarification on each of those three distractions and ways you can combat them in your efforts to regain traction toward your writing goals. [Read more…]

Steam ahead or swing back?

Do you zap out your first draft at the speed of bees, ignoring all faults just to get it down? Or do you move like mud, planning down to every detail and laboring over each word, phrase, and sentence before inching to the next?

Which were you taught was the single, inviolable method? Which makes for more effective writing? Which entices you? [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #5: Accuracy

accuracyIn our final discussion of this series on distinguishing features of academic writing, we focused on accuracy. Specifically, we considered what it means to be accurate, how understanding and vocabulary affects accuracy, how to check for accuracy in sources we use, how accuracy affects the structure, style, and grammar of a manuscript, and why accuracy is important in academic writing. Below is a summary of the discussion. [Read more…]

If a hummingbird strikes your window while you write: When to compartmentalize and when to stop

hummingbird“Writing a story is like going on a date — you will spoil it if you aren’t living in the moment.” — Pawan Mishra, On Writing Wonderfully: The Craft of Creative Fiction Writing

Halfway into my morning writing session, I heard a thump. I looked down at the deck. A hummingbird lay on her back, shaking. In a daze, I went out and stared at her. Her wings didn’t look broken, but what did I know?

I called my partner and my mom. My mom said hummingbirds need sugar water, so I found an old container of grape jelly and made sugar water. I fed her with a water dropper, put her in a box, and she slowly improved. I called the animal rescue people, and they eventually came and took the sweetie away after a few hours of feeding. Though I didn’t hear what happened after that, I’m sure she recovered. [Read more…]

3 Strategies and 5 steps to developing your dissertation into a manuscript

dissertation to bookLet’s set the record straight. “A dissertation is not a book.” In her recent TAA webinar, “Writing Your First Book: Developing Your Dissertation Into a Manuscript”, Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz of MargaretEdits shared practical strategies and tips for bridging the gap between completing your dissertation and writing a compelling book manuscript.  

During this session, Puskar-Pasewicz offered three strategies for making the transition from dissertation to book and then suggested five steps to get started on the journey. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #4: Objectivity

fresh work area with a blank screen on the laptopA good researcher is objectively seeking answers to their research questions and reporting those findings objectively to the community at large. But what does it mean to write objectively? How do we maintain objectivity where possible? Finally, how do we make efforts to identify and avoid bias in our academic writing?

In our fourth discussion of the distinguishing features of academic writing, we discussed all of these questions. A summary of the discussion and related resources is below. [Read more…]