Skip to main content

Posts

Why worry about my presentations when I write well enough to get articles published?

A guest post by Ellen Finkelstein, a Presenting, Powerpoint and Speaking Expert See below for invitation to her free webinar!
You publish your work in order to inform the academic community about your research or field of study.  It matters that your audience understand what you write, or you won’t achieve your goal.  The process of submitting to an edited journal may help your writing become clearer, but what process do you use to spiff up your speaking?
Speaking is different from writing:You write alone but speak to a group.You can edit your writing before you submit it, but can’t take back what you say.Your writing audience can stop reading when they get bored, but your live audience pretty much has to sit there, even if you bore them to tears.When you get a reader’s inquiry about your writing, you can think about how to respond; when an audience member asks you a question, you need a quick responseYour audience members look at your writing up close but usually have to see your slid…

Common sense, but unusual, tips for better writing

5 ways for PR pros to sharpen their writing by Megan Krause

I LOVE this article from PR Daily (click on title to read).  The advice is spot on, and it goes beyond the typical advice, such as "use the active voice."

My favorite tip is:  Stop Being Wishy-Washy.  As the author states:
When you're done writing, go back through your copy eyeing timid words and phrases. Strike out any instance of "just"—as in, "I'm just writing to say" or "I just want you to know"—you don't need to qualify what you're saying. It's OK to have an opinion. I've given the same advice to my academic coaching clients.  And I agree that you should edit later to find the wishy-washy phrases, as opposed to trying to write that way in your first drafts.  See the article for the list of words to look out for.

The wishy-washiness goes beyond words that weaken the sentence.  Writers can be wishy-washy about getting to the point, even hiding their main argumen…

The Second Holiday Writing Challenge for Academics

Here's a little boost for those who need a little kickstart to write over the holidays.  I first offered a Holiday Writing Challenge back in 2005, so I'd say it's about time to do it again.

Here's what you do: Post in the comment section:
what you'd like to work on (if anything) over the holidays, and the maximum amount of time you'd like to spend on it daily. Please keep this time limit reasonable and low unless you're under huge deadline pressure -- in which case you don't need this challenge in order to get something done!

Whether you're a professor or a grad student, make sure you get a copy of the Dissertation Toolkit.  These tools will give you more information and tips for productive and creative writing.

 For those of you who have had trouble making yourself write, you may want to start with VERY short writing goals. Even 5 or 10 minutes will be enough to get you jumpstarted.  Don't go more than 25 or 30 minutes without a break.

Using …

Effective, Efficient, Effectual, and Efficacious: Attempts to Define

Are there some words that drive you crazy because you're not sure which of many apparent synonyms to choose?

Maeve Maddox, who writes the Daily Writing Tips blog, discusses the various ways that the words "effective," "efficient," "effectual" and efficacious can be used. 

I thought that these words may play a part in your scholarly writing; or maybe, like me, you just enjoy thinking about words and language.

If so, then check out her blog.  It will be an efficient use of your time, and may be an effective way to improve your writing.



Poms revisited

Poms, Pomodoros, Tomayto, Tomahto...
I received a reminder today from Ellis Wakefield that this blog hasn't featured Poms for a while.  He wrote me to let me know that he had recently published a short article called "The Pomodoro Technique – The Ultimate Task Ender" in Red Shed, about the use of Poms, or Pomodoros, in getting tasks done.  I thought it was a nice, clear, simple explanation and I refer you there.

We've blogged about Poms before -- see "What on Earth Are Poms?" by Susanne Morgan.

Here is the official Pomodoro Website and the book created by Francesco Cirillo, the originator of the Pomodoro Technique.

Want Your Own Tomato? In case you get inspired to have your own actual tomato timer ("pomodoro" is Italian for tomato) ticking away while you write, click on the tomato timer on the right to access one for $.49.  Many Pomodoro technique fanatics feel the ticking is soothing but also reminds you to stay on task.

The Pomodoro Technique h…

Are you an editorial hypocrite?

Why do some academics still sniff at the idea of using a professional editor?

Some in academia believe that without rigorous standards the integrity of their rarified product is at risk.  I argue that this is not only untrue, but harmful to the productivity of many academic writers. I’m not the first one to raise these questions, but I have a few pretty good arguments that I hope will convince you to use a professional editor if you feel the need.  Let’s look at the myths that keep academics from using an editor
The editor might give you an idea, so it’s not original. I’m tackling the big one first.  Try this on for size:  it’s not where an idea comes from that matters. After all, you get ideas from all kinds of places – colleagues at conferences, from your friends, peers, the guy next door, your professors, in classes. People are noting ideas from each other all the time.  No idea belongs entirely to anyone.

What matters is the originality of an argument and its precise expression, th…

If procrastination is "a common pulse of humanity," then what can we do to stop it?

In "Getting over Procrastination," NY Times writer Maria Konnikova discusses Piers Steel's research The Procrastination Equation, Steel explains that "procrastination leads to lower over-all well-being, worse health, and lower salaries."
on procrastination, reporting Steel's finding that procrastination is "a common pulse of humanity," and that it affects 99% of college students in one way or another and translates to significant monetary losses in the work world.  In his book,

So if procrastination is so bad for us, why do we do it?  According to Konnikova, Steel's research indicates the answer lies on "the flip side of impulsivity."  Those of us who are not good at self-regulating or delaying rewards until after we have engaged in unpleasant tasks will often be the same people who struggle the most with procrastination.

But I wonder -- most academics have been able to delay rewards while they suffered and struggled to achieve their…