Is that notion of pen hovering above paper, with words whizzing round in your head, but somehow never making it to the page, one that you can relate with?
Too often, we find ourselves stuck when it comes to academic writing. How do we get started on our work? What do we write? How do we ensure that everything is explained clearly? Do we really need those extra 100 words….?
The challenge of academic writing has stumped many a professor, student, budding author and researcher. So in a bid to help you get that pen to paper, we spoke with Gillie Bolton, author of Inspirational Writing for Academic Publication to get her top tips for academic writing. Here are her top 4:
Identify your reader
In your imagination, sit your reader in front of you. Write him/her a letter telling them about the book/article you want to write. Say WHATEVER you want to say: NO real person need ever read this.
An example: Professor Stephen Rowland got completely stuck with a book for which he had a contract. I told him to sit with a laptop anywhere but at his desk and write these letters. He was initially VERY suspicious (‘stupid waste of time’), but once he’d started, he didn’t stop, and wrote the whole book with no further block.
Ask yourself – “What is it that I am REALLY writing about?”
You are at a crowded party; someone approached you and asks about your work. To keep their interest you have to respond succinctly – in ONE SENTENCE.
Write that sentence.
This sentence is an open sesame: once you have it, writing all the rest becomes easier, because you know what it’s about.
Go somewhere else!
When you feel jaded or blue with writing, take your laptop/iPad somewhere entirely different (bed/by a tree or lake/the beach/a cafe). Allow yourself to write about your subject in a ‘non-academic’ way for a while (you can easily redraft later).
OR try writing at a different time of day: try 5am!
Lost focus? Got a real block?
Think up the kindest, most insightful, helpful person you can imagine.
Write them a letter telling them your worries about your writing.
Write her or his reply.