Wednesday’s #phdchat session on Wednesday focused on academic writingWednesday. Although I have been in academia for about a decade now, first as student, then as professional, and now back as student again, I’ve never really seriously reflected on “academic writing”. As a former journalist, writing came easy, and I love the research process – in fact, taming the research fiend in me is a bigger challenge than writing, but that’s a post for another day – and so I turned in my papers and called it good. It’s a whole different ball game as a doctoral student/research scholar in-training. The rules of the game have changed. So, as we pondered on the existential aspect of academic writing, I confess I came away with more questions than answers.
- Is it a process, a skill set, voice, writing fluency (habits), tone, lexicon, writing for an audience, all of above?
- Is it driven by specific goals (publication, dissertation/thesis completion, tenure…)
- How is it different from non-academic writing?
- Who is the audience (journal, dissertation committee, peers/colleagues, self…)
- Can academic writing be “sexy”, or does it need to be straitlaced, formal, and distant?
- What drives the tone and voice (context, publication, discipline…)?
- Who am “I” in the process? Where am “I” in the process? “What am “I” in the process? Take a look at Who am I when I write? for one perspective.
In her book Demystifying The Dissertation Process, author Peg Single advocates developing habits of fluent writing, i.e. writing regularly, daily if possible. I suspect some of the answers will reveal themselves as I write further. In the meantime, meditate in this direction, to quote Sandy (Grease).