Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
Address Aversion to Writing
From Aspiring Author to Published Scholar
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing
People who see themselves as poor writers typically have had some bad experiences as learners. One strategy for overcoming this is to intentionally avoid writing—at least at first. For example, when a doctoral student and school superintendent confessed to “hating to write”, the instructor recommended that he read, interview fellow administrators, and dictate into a voice recorder to motivate himself to write a practical article. The article was published in Principal magazine and earned a national award from Educational Press Association. Rather than allowing echoes of past writing failures to inhibit future efforts, implement some new approaches. Someone may have told you that: You must have a perfect first sentence. You have to begin at the beginning. You need to use all of the jargon and multisyllabic words you can think of to impress others. Try breaking all of these rules that have been inflicted on others by nonwriters. Begin by reflecting on your past as a writer using the questions in Activity 1.4.
Activity 1.4: Your Personal Writing History
What do you remember about being taught to write as a child, an undergraduate, and a graduate student? How would you characterize the feedback that you received on your writing from teachers? What types of writing tasks are you now expected to do in your professional life? How did you learn to accomplish those writing tasks? Are there some writing habits that you need to change or acquire?
Those who hate writing tend to view the process in a very simplistic way: they turn in a hastily prepared manuscript, someone in authority identifies all of the deficiencies, and then the manuscript is returned to them with a negative evaluation. One of the best ways to confront an aversion to writing is to recognize that, while the process used in the past was inadequate and unsatisfying, writers are capable of dramatic change. Rather than approaching the writing task as a collection of rules, accept that scholars are expected to revise their work and find their own mistakes. Technology certainly can support these efforts, yet many writers do not take the time to run the spell or grammar check feature of their word processing programs or, worse yet, ignore the wavy green underline that identifies possible errors. Another issue that surfaces is resisting recommendations for improvement in the manuscript. Doctoral students may be unwilling to let go of the way that they wrote to get through their master’s degree programs and protest with, “But, this is the way I write”. Likewise, the majority of scholars who submit their work to a publisher are asked to revise and encouraged to resubmit. Henson (2007) estimated that nearly 70 % of the manuscripts that were revised and resubmitted were accepted for publication; for those who withdraw the manuscript, the publication rate is zero. A recommendation for revision is an invitation, not a rejection. It means that the editor and reviewers see publication potential and are giving you another chance to make the work even better. Nevertheless, personal experience with editing a journal since 1995 suggests that the vast majority of authors fail to follow through when they get recommendations for revision.
For more advice on rethinking writing, see www.discoverwriting.com.