Abstract - From Trepidation to a First Draft - Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

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

From Trepidation to a First Draft
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

Many academic authors are hobbled by the fear that they will invest considerable effort in writing only to have it rejected. When expectations are low, motivation to persist at a task drops off and avoidance is a common response. This chapter begins with the primary source of academic writing’s excellence; namely, creativity. Across the disciplines and throughout the world, originality is a highly valued attribute in scholarly writing. This chapter first coaches aspiring and experienced authors in strategies to generate ideas for a manuscript. Next, it offers advice on identifying suitable outlets and getting feedback on writing before it is subjected to formal review. This chapter offers examples of manuscript revision and appropriate responses to manuscript rejection. The chapter is replete with activities that support authors in becoming more productive.

For 30 years, I taught a doctoral seminar called Writing for Professional Publication. In 1994, I posted a copy of my favorite Chronicle of Higher Education cartoon by Vivian Scott Hixson on my bulletin board. It pictures a young student seated across the desk from a haggard, matronly professor. The bright-eyed newcomer inquires, “Do you think I’ll ever be a beautiful writer, like you?” Although the cartoon supplied no answers, my customary answer is “It depends.” The reason that this fundamental question of aspiring authors cannot be answered easily is that academic authorship is more than a wish or a toolkit. Contributing high-quality writing to your field involves complex understandings about scholarly discourse, writing genres, expectations of peers, personal/professional identity, and dedication to the craft. This chapter begins with what we see as foundational to academic authorship: flexible, fluent, original, and effective thinking or creativity. From there, we address major concerns of authors, including: identifying and narrowing a topic, locating suitable outlets, generating a first draft, seeking feedback from others, and coping with rejection.