This page is dedicated to suggestions I provide to improve scholars, professors and students’ writing. These tips have worked for me, and I hope they will work for you!
My Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Academic Writing
Perhaps my most popular post, this is a list of suggestions for writers in the academic field. The list includes organization and time management, manuscript structure and routine design.
We all know that moment: When you are staring at a blank page, or when you simply don’t want to write because you are feeling writer’s block. These 5 tips may open the door and enable you to continue writing. This post was republished by the London School of Economics LSE Impact Blog.
This post gives you 6 strategies you can use to start writing even if you feel like you’re facing a blank page. This post of mine was republished on the Times Higher Education blog.
This post explains why I choose to do 2 hours of writing every day, or 10 hours of writing a week (which can be 20 blocks of 30 minutes of writing as well).
This blog post offers a systematic approach to editing manuscripts. As many people know, my editing process is quite analog. I print out the manuscript, make notes by hand on the margins, add notes using Post-Its. But I also assemble a Drafts Review Matrix where I compare what the editor or reviewer asked me to do, and what I have done. This systematic approach allows me to know exactly how much work I still have left to do, and what tasks need to be scheduled by when in order to submit the manuscript on time.
One of the most challenging planning processes I have encountered is the design of a publications pipeline. What article needs to be written first to comply with some artificial deadline? I designed a Publications Planner, which I describe on this post, along with other smart colleagues’ suggestions on how they plan their own research output. My publications planner is quite simple, and I keep a digital version but can be printed too.
Many fellow academics had asked me about a process that made sense to create a paper from start to finish. My process isn’t perfect, but it’s sequential and it makes sense to me. It allowed me to write 3 papers in 3 weeks, and it’s given me enough structure to be able to maintain a writing routine/practice.
While many people use different types of reference managers and writing software, I’ve grown accustomed to Mendeley and Microsoft Word. I use the Cite-O-Matic function of Mendeley to simplify how I write my memorandums and my papers. In this post, I explain how I use it. Endnote has a similar function, Cite-As-You-Write.
A reflection on the fact that much of the writing we do isn’t what many people call “generative writing” (e.g. writing that will be published), but it IS indeed academic writing if it helps us move forward our work (e.g. memoranda, notes, emails about specific research projects, etc.)
This is a post that I wrote by popular demand. I don’t think I’m particularly good at editing my own work, because I love my writing and hate cutting paragraphs and sentences, but I am systematic at the edition process, and this post explains how I do it.
On doing the grunt work in academic writing
I wrote this post because I felt that a lot of people were thinking that every morning is filled with writing smart ideas, and so on. This isn’t the case. Sometimes, all I do is grunt work. In this post I describe the activities that this entails.
In this post I explain how I tackle a blank page: I focus on filling up a paragraph, developing ONE idea per paragraph. That way I avoid feeling stuck and unable to write.
As I’ve explained all throughout my blog, I am very analog. This is particularly important for my editing process. I dump words on the page, and then edit, by hand. My post explains why edit this way. As Daniel Nexon noted, this process only works if you actually can read your own handwriting (I can).
Last night I was explaining to a good friend of mine that if you aren’t up on the literature, your writing will suffer. So I integrate reading into my writing. I make sure I read a new article every day at least, and I systematically and regularly schedule reading time. This post explains why and how I justify this strategy.
One reason why people tell me they don’t write every day is that “they don’t always have something research-y to write”. That’s wrong. You can write notes to yourself, you can scribble text in a document that summarizes your current thinking about your research projects, you can draft parts of a paper summary or memorandum. This post explains how.
I write by hand most of the time, so I share here my rationale for doing so. It helps me retain more and conceptualize better. Obviously, doing this requires to have neat handwriting so you can understand what you’re writing!
#GetYourManuscriptOut and finish your paper!
There is a need for a growing community of scholars who support each other in finishing a manuscript. That’s the goal of the hashtag #GetYourManuscriptOut which I created after a conversation with Dr. Steven Shaw and Dr. Mireya Marquez.
I know for a fact that for me, writing in sprees (what many call “binge-writing” from the Boyce book) doesn’t work as well. But here I ponder why I sometimes do it.
I am a fan of tables, and I explain here how you can use it to organize your academic writing, your teaching and your thoughts, more generally