I argue that academic writing process is no different from any other writing, although the results differ. I realise writing an academic text is a different genre from writing for example a novel. As an academic reader, soon into consuming, I expect an argument (delivered here in the first paragraph). Pretty soon after that, evidence. And as I skip to Conclusions, I really expect to find conclusions, i.e. how this stuff is related to anything outside the text. Goes without saying that the detective stories aren’t supposed to share up front who did it. And also goes without saying that delivering genre fitting text can be difficult.
I have learned all this from attending excellent academic writing workshops, blogs, and reading about academic writing from books such as How to write a lot and Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. These references emphasise that academic writers experience writing blocks, fear, and anxieties like any other writers. Also academic writers seem to have their own routines how to deliver text regularly. These sources and others are excellent in explaining what happens in academic writing. Put it shortly, academic writing is a skill that can be developed.
I want to share what has developed and inspired me as an academic writer:
- (science) fiction writing and reading
- writing groups
A lot what I have learned about writing as a craft has come from non-academic writing and reading. As a story, book, and (science) fiction enthusiast. I enjoy good writing. It is like breathing: I inhale stories of others’ experiences and different worlds and exhale joy. Therefore, I have tried my share of writing fiction. It gives me more energy than it most likely will ever be able to deliver to those poor souls reading my texts. As a side kick, my fiction writing hobby has enhanced my academic writing skills. Genre, plot, characters, surprise, dialogue, language, style… Many obvious connections. This doesn’t mean I understand research as fiction. The metaphysics of doing research is much more complex. Yet, research reports, articles, and text books are read by people. And what do people like? Good stories. No wonder narrative approach to research is a well rooted tradition.
My development as a writer is dependent on others. Making writing social is more important than I first realised. Support and understanding makes us flourish. I want to give full credit and appreciation to my superb academic colleagues: I would have not been able to write research texts without you. You know who you are. You put up with me as potentially deliverable.
Finally, it comes down to sitting down and writing no matter what the style is. Texts need to come from somewhere. Words need to be written. This is what I have read and reread in many quotes about writing regardless of the genre.
So better get back to my academic writing projects and start generating words!