However, just as the mystery of Math can be made easyso too can the tedious task of exercising. We all know that physical movement is necessary for a person to stay healthy.
Being in a literate society means that writing is a bit like eating — we all have to do it in order to get by and get around. Maybe it is because writing is ubiquitous that we all assume that we ought to be able to just do whatever writing task comes before us. We all recognize that it is not only learners who have to practice scales, and who rehearse and rehearse before they perform something in public.
We also may know about artists and designers who keep sketch books of ideas, and do multiple trials and test pieces before they arrive at something that they are satisfied that they can and want to take to completion.
And yet this is not how we approach academic writing. Most of us seem to operate as if all we have to do is to sit down facing the screen and we ought then to be able to write. In our book on doctoral writingBarbara Kamler and I talk about writing along the way of the thesis.
This is writing that is done simply to orient the thinking and the writing to come. It contains 50 exercises, each of which uses a 10 minute timer, so these might be especially interesting for pomodoro aficionados.
She suggests establishing a routine of academic writing practice consisting of 10 minutes each day. She suggests working on a relevant exercise over a series of sessions. Her first tranche of exercises are arranged around general academic writing — daily writing, building academic vocabulary, identifying and rectifying your grammar mistakes, feedback and editing.
The second tranche are designed to support the thinking about and writing of specific sections of a thesis — introduction, methods, findings, conclusions and abstracts. Goodson always provides a structure for the 10 minute sessions.
These are either in the form of questions to answer, or as skeleton sentences or prompts which focus the writing. She also provides some specific pointers for non-native speakers.
Let me give you a flavor of a Goodson exercise. Compile all citations lending support to your topic. The reason s they carry such authority is….
Exercise 33 for example not only requires a review of the entire set of readings that have been undertaken but also categorization and evaluation. The exercise requires the writer to make a decision about where things fit.
It explicitly works against what Barbara and I call the laundry list approach, where a set of texts are simply organised around a theme and no evaluation given at all. This kind of grouping and assessing work is fundamental to any work with literatures, and indeed to work with any form of data.
The exercise also positions the writer to find the warrant for their work within the literatures and to identify the space in which they will situate their specific contribution.
So it does a lot of work in an apparently straightforward bit of practice. Barbara and I always begin with abstracts rather than leave them till the end. However, it seems to me that this is an extremely useful text which could equally be used by individuals, writing groups or writing classes.
Its focus on practice is very helpful because it directs all of us to the work that needs to be done in order to write well. BTW, this was a book review post. Just so you know. Goodson, P Becoming an academic writer.If you want to lose 1 lb.
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The interactive tasks in this activity will teach how to avoid personal and emotional language in academic writing to make it more subjective and formal.