The beginning of a new academic year is a great time to set intentions and think about goals. Goal setting can seem arbitrary or ambiguous, particularly for large projects that take months or years to complete. What if you thought about your goals in terms of the final product of a semester? Deliverables. Deliverables are the concrete items you will deliver to yourself or others at the end of a period.
My writing buddy’s face turned dark pink as she shouted over her latté. “No one can write anything decent without a private place!” She jabbed with her finger. “It’s gotta be your own!”
I was as adamant. “Oh, come on! All you need is the desire, will, and your stone tablet and sharp tool. It doesn’t matter where you write!”
Our little debate embodies two often-discussed viewpoints about writing. My vehement response to my friend brought up again my long puzzlement about the most effective place to write. Other writers have explored this topic, with many suggestions. They are all fine, but I believe something is missing. Especially if you’re in a quandary about where to write, I’d like to help enlarge your perceptions of your own physical and mental writing places, spaces, and times.
These languid summer days, after some necessary business with my dissertation coaching and editing clients, I resist doing my personal writing. Generally, I manage to balance (or struggle with or squeeze) the ever-ongoing writing projects—novel, stories, essays, poems—with the client work. If I don’t do something on my own writing, the day will feel wasted and I didn’t fulfill at least a little of my writing promise to myself.
To tease myself into writing on a particularly steamy day (despite the air conditioning), I remembered a technique that academic and creative coach Dr. Dominique Chlup (2016) teaches her clients. This is to first set your writing intentions: ask yourself how you want to feel writing during this session or having written.
Erin McTigue, a writing coach with The Positive Academic, and Wendi Kamman Zimmer, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, answer four frequently asked questions about writing scholarly abstracts.
Q: How long is an abstract?
Zimmer: “While this depends on the journal you’re publishing in and the requirements of your field, it is generally 150-300 words.”
Q: What tense should I write an abstract in?
McTigue: “Usually the present tense is used for the opening statement, the past tense is used for the methods and results, and the present tense again for the conclusion. It is definitely okay to switch the tenses.”
In academic writing, abstracts are the most powerful aspect of a manuscript, says Erin McTigue, a writing coach with The Positive Academic. “Realistically, to extract key findings, busy researchers may read only the abstract, and for those who proceed onward, the abstract provides an advance organizer framing their comprehension,” she says.
Abstracts need to be clear, and they need to have well-structured sentences, says Wendy Kamman Zimmer, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. They should include concrete examples, words, and ideas, active voice, and human elements, she says: “Arguably, abstracts that are stronger have a contestable thesis or a very strong argument, something that you can touch; something that’s tangible.”
TAA is offering two writing-themed t-shirt designs for a limited time. Choose between two popular writing quotes. ‘Write Without Fear. Edit Without Mercy.’ and ‘Writing: Somewhere Between Torture and Fun’. Or, get both!
Super-soft high-quality fabric T’s. Both designs available in crew neck (unisex) or v-neck in Graphite Heather or Royal Frost. Sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Order by August 10. Shirts ship the week of August 30.