I spend quite a lot of time giving workshops for graduate students about productivity. During these workshops, it’s been hard not to feel twinges of hypocrisy about my poor neglected blog. In the past eighteen months, I’ve written some non-blog things and rearranged things here somewhat (see the new and improved Five Key Strategies), but I’ve not written a single new post. Being the shoeless cobbler is terrible since writing here is my very favourite thing. In fact, I like this blog and the way it has allowed me to talk to graduate writers so much that I’ve decided to write a book. Using the material from the blog as a springboard, the book will be a guide to the multifaceted challenges of writing in graduate school (a brief overview can be found below).
Over the next year or so, I’m going to use this space to reflect on my writing process. In the almost-nine years I’ve been blogging, I’ve touched on a great many aspects of writing and productivity. Now I’m going to talk about my own writing practices: how I’m reworking existing material into a new form; how I’m deciding what else needs to be said; how I’m finding (or not finding) time to write; how I’m dealing with sentences that won’t do what I want them to; how I’m working up the nerve to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it; and so forth. Writing regular posts about my process is also an accountability thing: like anyone embarking on a new writing project, I’m terrified of all the ways that I will find to avoid writing. Presumably the official contract (with the lovely people at the University of Michigan Press) will help keep me on track but so will committing to being here regularly, reflecting on my struggles and my progress. I hope you’ll join me as I document my work on my (as yet untitled) book. And feel free to suggest a good title, as I am truly terrible at naming things (as evidenced by the name of this post)!
Overview: This book will provide a comprehensive guide to the challenges of writing in graduate school: how to think about academic writing; how to manage an academic text at both local and global levels; and how to establish an effective writing practice. By combining an overarching approach to academic writing with concrete writing strategies while also attending to the real challenges graduate writers face in developing a writing practice, this book will support novice writers as they learn to write as academics in their disciplines. My approach will acknowledge the inherent challenges of writing and the centrality of learning to write; the book will be informed throughout by a bedrock assumption that writing is an independent activity to be learned and not an ancillary skill that ought to have been acquired along the way. By placing the development of writing skill at its heart, this text will provide much-needed support to graduate writers without condescension or trivialization of the vital activity of constructing an academic text and an academic identity.