Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost rethink academic life and writing productivity in this on-going series of hints, tips and hacks.
READ. Good writing practices usually start with good reading practices. You need to read not just to be more informed about your subject, but about your process. Notice not just what other people say, but how they say it. If there is a book, article or writer you return to again and again, start to think about why that is. How do they shape their ideas for others to understand and work with? Can you read and use a book just for its style? Read your own work over and over too. 1. Sense read it. Stop looking for typos and focus on whether the argument makes sense. Or, perhaps, read only for style, structure, or pace. Too often, we get so caught up in the micro-details that we fail to see the obvious. 2. Proof read it. There are always mistackes you won’t notice yourself which will be glaringly obvious to others. Don’t let them slip through. When in doubt (read: always), get help with this step. Plus, while your proofing-pal looks it over you’ll be getting some valuable distance from the piece. 3. Read it aloud. Reading your writing aloud will be one of the best ways to spot problems. (This can work even better if you can find someone to read to.) As soon as you vocalise your sentences and ideas, you’ll hear what doesn’t work. 4. Alien read it. Even just printing your work out and reading it on paper can help you spot stuff you hadn’t noticed. But you might like to try printing it in a different font or sending it to an e-reading device like a Kindle. This will trick your mind into seeing it afresh and you’ll be surprised what issues sneaked passed you in 12pt Ariel!