The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: July 17, 2015

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.You need to start somewhere.” –Anne Lamott

No piece of writing is perfect when first written—that’s why they call it a first draft and why editing exists. Pat Thomson offers a bit of comfort in her piece this week in that all academic writers (or any writer for that matter) face the same struggles. She focuses on being ‘stuck’ with a writing piece and how to move thru it. Today, just focus on getting started and let the rest fall into place. The rest will either fall into place or, if nothing else, give you direction for where to go on the page next time you sit to write. Either way, just start and know that you can (and will) edit later.

Happy writing! [Read more…]

Derrington receives TAA Publication Grant

Mary Lynn Derrington, Ed.D., was awarded a TAA Publication Grant to cover expenses incurred for a recently published article and for her co-authorship of a book chapter. The article, “Metaphors and Meaning: Principals’ Perception of Teacher Evaluation”, was published in NCPEA Educational Leadership Review 14 (3), in October 2013. (NCPEA is the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration.)

The book chapter, “The Changing Conditions of Instructional Leadership,” was published in the Bruce Barnett, Alan Shoho, and Alex Bowers, eds. book entitled International Research on School Leadership Volume 4 — School and District Leadership in an Era of Accountability, published by Information Age Publishing, 2013.

Derrington is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

10 Steps to revising your academic article or book chapter

Many novice writers imagine clean, clear prose springing publishingoff of the fingertips of accomplished writers. Most writers will assure you that it does not work this way. We first write, and then, revise, revise, and revise some more.

Trying to write perfectly the first time around has three central problems. 1) It takes a long time; 2) It can be a waste of time, as you often can only see at the end of a paper what needs to be cut; and 3) Your writing will not be as good in the end because the best writing comes out of revising.

Writing a spew draft of a chapter or an article allows you to work quickly, and lets you improve your writing through revising. Although you may be able to type very quickly – as quickly as a whole chapter in one week, revising it will take much longer. In their book, Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation, Sonja Foss and William Waters offer a multi-step approach to revising an article or chapter. I present a slightly modified version of it below, that explains, in ten steps, how to revise an article or chapter.

Step One: Remove all unnecessary information. Take a first pass at your chapter to cut out any sentences or paragraphs that do not contribute to your main argument. To feel better about cutting liberally, save the rough draft of the paper as a separate document so that you don’t lose any writing that you may want to use later. [Read more…]