(Science) fiction and writing groups as an inspiration for academic writing

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:

  1. (science) fiction writing and reading
  2. 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!

From being a writer to writing

I’m about to attend a writing course in Oriveden opisto. It is my first get-away writing course and it feels like starting primary school. I have no idea what to expect! Although I want to take someone’s hand and ask him or her to escort me I know I need to do this by myself. Only I know how this will sort out. Thus, it is better that there is no one bothering my concentration.

When hearing I’m attending a writing course, a relative of mine asked me “So, you want to become a writer?”. I was struck by this question and in a short moment went through several thoughts. Of course I want to become a writer! Being a writer is my secret dream of all ages I have dared to think only for some times now. Oh, but do I need a permission to become a writer?

And that’s it. The question of “Do you want to become writer” is also a matter of others’ recognition. My self-confident me would tell you the following. I am a writer. You see, I’ve been working on a BIG book for two years already and aside written a short story or two. Additionally, I have been purposefully writing every day for more than a year, and sometimes even this blog. However, my less confident me insists adding some clarifications. Yeah, the BIG book is a non-fiction PhD research gaining an audience of 3 people (my supervisor, examiner, and mom). And the one single concluded short story is unpublished and quite clumsy. So not much of recognition there.

Great. No matter how much I detest identity work it seems that that’s just what is going on here in relation to being a writer. Silly me, I thought there would be absolutely no space left for such a debate after drastic academic identity drudgery. Yet, I find myself asking: What does it require to be a writer? Who decides that?

Before waiting for my answer, my relative commented that Finland is full of detective story authors. I sighed and smiled. To my relief I was not required to revel my unsure identity. Thus, I just replied that detective stories are not my cup of tea, as I seem to prefer science fiction, at least as a strong side flavour.

Conversational wittiness will not save me from private Analysis Paralysis. Thus, I have decided to just write. It is quite simple actually. You write.

Dear blog

Dear blog,

I apologise I have ignored you. It has been [excuses, excuses, excuses]. As if it wasn’t bad enough, I HAVE been writing but totally different things, such as my PhD research, creative writing in a form short stories (in Finnish), and two other blogs as an occasional visiting writer (Aikaa pankista and Aallonhuiput). The problem is that this blog and these other writing projects don’t seem to interact.

I’m the one to blame. Thus, I have decided to do something about it. First, I will link my other online writing projects here. I have no idea how is it going to happen technically but no doubt it is possible. It’s about the time to explore the secrets of WordPress!

Second, from now on, I try to write at least one entry every month. And now that I have a dedicated place for writing, this should be no problem. I know the minimum of once a month sounds very little. But with the other stuff taking place elsewhere and miraculously to be added here, my appearance will add up to more than once a month.

My place to write

Third, I will start writing here about my (not-so-secret-anymore) passion, namely science fiction literature, and occasional excursions to fantasy literature. What a dim place this world would be without sci-fi, like Mordor.

Yours truly,