How Do We Write? Two very interesting reflections on ‘dysfunctional academic writing’ at In the Middle.
A conversation has unfolded on Facebook over the last week on the topic of How We Write. Two of us who were involved in that conversation would like to push it forward, first offering our own experiences here, and then going on to collect the experiences of others who are also willing to share, perhaps (if there’s sufficient interest) putting together a collective resource on How We Write. (Note that this is not to be confused with ‘How To Write’ – these are idiosyncratic, self-flagellating approaches to the process.) So please add your experience in the comments, or share it in another way, and let us know if this kind of collective resource is something you’d like to read and/or contribute to.
The impetus for this conversation was a wonderful blogpost by Michael Collins on the occasion of a roundtable hosted by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, on how to facilitate dissertation-writing groups. Michael’s thoughtful engagement with his own experience of writing – posted and reposted on a number of Facebook pages – led to an outpouring of personal accounts of the dissertation-writing years, both from those currently in the trenches and those for whom those years are very much in the rear-view mirror. What emerged was a clear sense of the diversity of writing practices that are out there: there’s no single ‘right’ way to write, and exposure to that range of practices might help those who are in the process of mastering academic writing to feel more confident in their own abilities, most of all by demonstrating that such ‘mastery’ is an ongoing – potentially limitless – effort.