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Tag: writing


…The iterative practice of regular blogging has its own set of joys. For me, writing begets writing. The blog doesn’t distract from my formal academic or scholarly work. It feeds it. It becomes a form of discipline, like doing sit-ups every morning, a practice I long ago abandoned. My abdominal muscles are flabby, but when I sit down to write, whatever the context, I feel strong.

David Perry, “3 Rules of Academic Blogging,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 11, 2015

Requiring Students to Use Chicago Style (or Turabian or Whatever)

While talking in class tonight about forthcoming papers, I heard from several students that many of their professors haven’t cared which system they used, as long as it was clear and they could retrace the student’s steps if necessary. That’s also long been my implicit attitude, even though I ask students to follow Chicago or Turabian and I correct their papers accordingly. Lately, however, I have come to think that teaching a specific style is actually important, even if I have done little more than point students in the right… Read more Requiring Students to Use Chicago Style (or Turabian or Whatever)

Separating Writing from Formatting

As I began writing a manuscript that I plan to submit to a specific journal, I thought it would make sense to follow that journal’s style sheet, which is rather different from what I am used to. I noticed, however, that I was constantly looking things up, from the very first sentence. How do I cite that source with this particular system? How do I spell that word in British English? How do I handle quotation marks for this particular situation? It was hard to get any thinking and writing… Read more Separating Writing from Formatting

From Dissertation to . . . What?

I have just finished reading William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), which I can recommend to any scholar, not just those writing their first books. In my case, it offers food for thought about editing and writing in general. More importantly, it has helped encourage me to take up my research again, even if that probably won’t lead to a book. That has meant picking up the old dissertation—”Wilhelm Groener, Officering, and the Schlieffen Plan” (Georgetown University, 2006)—and rereading it with an eye to… Read more From Dissertation to . . . What?

On Writing

Writing is hard work for almost everyone, no matter how talented or inspired. Writing is thinking. Good writers do not usually have finished ideas that they then type out. The process of writing and revision is an act of thinking and discovery. That is why writing papers can be so frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Want to improve your prose? Keep a journal, in which you produce a page of text per day. The text can be about anything, but use standard prose, not the kind of abbreviations… Read more On Writing

Writing Strategies

I wrote this somewhat confusing piece for my students in a required history survey and posted it on a course blog called History Survey. After I discontinued that, I moved the piece to Language for You and then here. The insight behind the piece is valid, but the attempt to write about it in the form of directions naive. (June 2018) Most people will tell you to build a paper around a thesis statement and an outline. This is good advice, but many of us have to go through a… Read more Writing Strategies