If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I’ve spent the last few years working on a book about graduate writing. That process is now drawing to a close: Thriving as a Graduate Writer will be published in June! Between now and then, I’m going to use this space to share brief excerpts. In addition to my discussion of principles, strategies, and habits for effective academic writing, the book has short ‘asides’ that allowed me to engage with topics outside that main narrative. Over the next four months, I’ll share my favourites of those asides. As always, I’d love to hear what you think!
A For-Your-Eyes-Only Font
One strategy for managing the discomforts of exploratory writing is to choose a special font that is just for you: a for-your-eyes-only font. By designating a font as one that only you will ever see, you create more freedom in your composition process. Using your new font, you can expand on whatever you are thinking. The fact that you are writing in something other than your usual writing font will remind you that your eventual reader need never see these ruminations, thus lessening your own reticence. Rather than allowing problems to derail writing, you can use writing to confront the problems. Why aren’t you writing the next sentence? Because you’re worried you’re contradicting yourself? Because your supervisor is skeptical of this approach? Because you’re suddenly afraid that this topic is insufficiently novel? Because you’re worried that you lack the authority to frame this critique of existing work? Letting yourself write about your own writing hesitancy can facilitate resolution. The variant font isn’t strictly necessary, but it does give you a visual assurance that you are exploring your ideas—including your doubts and worries—in a safe space.
Thriving as a Graduate Writer will be available in early June from the University of Michigan Press. To pre-order your copy, visit the book page. Order online and save 30% with discount code UMS23!
What a smart tip!