Hurdles in the Writing Process Can Inspire the Largest Leaps
Writing academic or scientific prose is never easy. A great deal of thinking, planning and outlining is usually required before writing even begins, and although the drafting process can proceed very smoothly at times, this is far from always the case. Sometimes the seemingly simple act of beginning a text can present an enormous hurdle that requires a powerful act of will to surmount, and it is an unfortunate fact that such hurdles can arise at any point in the writing process. Facing them can be frustrating and overcoming them can be challenging, but doing so can mean achieving the significant leaps in thought and understanding that will ultimately benefit your work and produce a far better document.
Common to many hurdles encountered when writing scholarly prose is uncertainty about exactly what to write. There may be many thoughts in the mind of the author – too many perhaps – but it sometimes proves difficult to decide which one should be the focus at a particular point in the discussion. That is no doubt why the beginning of a text so often presents so tall a hurdle. Finding the perfect place to begin can be notoriously difficult, after all, even when you thought you knew exactly where to begin, and as you struggle over the problem, everything that will follow in the document seems to hang on those opening words. There are several strategies that can be helpful, such as reviewing notes and plans and imagining what your anticipated readers might find most interesting and engaging, but often the discovery of the perfect beginning requires a slight alteration in your thinking and occasionally a much larger one. Do not be afraid of beginning your document in a way that comes as a sudden revelation. Instead, give the new idea a chance by following it through for a paragraph or two. You may just find that it takes you exactly where you wanted to be or perhaps to a better place.
Hurdles encountered in the midst of writing a scholarly text are often associated with unexpected developments. Perhaps while reporting your results and your initial analysis of them you begin to see new patterns and have very different ideas about the meaning of your findings. Although this can seem maddening when you are working within a tight timeframe and were convinced that the plans you laid were the best imaginable, such developments are in fact very positive. The ideal of scholarship is to advance knowledge, after all, and seeing your own research in new ways that promote you to explore new conclusions and implications is an advancement of knowledge, for others as well if you can get your research and ideas down in text and publish them for your scholarly community. It is therefore wise to take a little time and explore new possibilities as they arise so that you can leap over those hurdles and call them intellectual accomplishments instead of authorial struggles as you produce a more thoughtful and more publishable document.
When you find that revisions are necessary, perhaps because a colleague has offered helpful critical feedback or an acquisitions editor or peer reviewer has requested changes, the hurdles can multiply all too quickly. Maintaining an open mind and a willingness to see your own work through new eyes will help you surmount these as well on the path to the success you desire.
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