Improving as a Writer - From Novice to Expert - Writing as Professional Development

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Improving as a Writer
From Novice to Expert
Writing as Professional Development

Taken as a group, the best academic authors I have met are gracious, humble, responsive to recommendations for improvement and particularly hard working. Some attributes to aim for as you strive to improve as a writer are highlighted in Table 13.5.

Table 13.5

Gift and talents to develop as a writer

Attention to detail. Writers are perfectionists, but not at first. At the outset, they accept they tolerate flaws in logic and poorly written prose. However, rather than despairing, they systematically attack those problems through a series of substantive revisions. They strive for excellence

Creativity. Gifted writers are constantly attracted to novelty and original ways of expressing ideas. They avoid tired phrases and clichés. They invent quotable phrases rather than relying too heavily on quotations from others. Their manuscripts usually begin and end in their own words. When an illustrative example is called for, they draw upon their own experiences

Perceptivity. Due to their immersion in the literature, gifted academic authors are capable of anticipating future directions and emergent issues. They also have learned how to read as a writer. This means that they study, not just the content but also the format of others’ writing as a route to improving their own. They can visualize, for example, the organizational structure of the piece just as an x-ray reveals the skeleton underneath the human body. They notice particularly powerful examples and skillful ways of making complex ideas accessible and attempt to emulate this in their own work

Intensity. Effective writers will persist at a writing task well beyond what others can endure. They are willing to invest tremendous effort and time into a piece of writing and seldom are satisfied with writing that most would consider “good enough.” Even the smallest writing task, such as writing a letter of recommendation, is approached as an opportunity to write well

For more advice on developing as an academic author, see Goodson (2013)

Activity 13.7: Words of Wisdom

There are some universals about writing well that transcend disciplinary boundaries. Quotations from highly respected authors—whether they are novelists or scholars — often are a source of inspiration to aspiring authors. Using books of quotations about writing or select quotes about writing online at sites such as Bartlett’s Quotations or to locate a quotation that speaks to you at this juncture in your professional development.