This week I started back in on a book I worked seriously on two summers ago and then abandoned for a while. My goal for now is to produce a draft chapter for the core of the book. I’m aiming for roughly 6000 words about the nature of academic writing. The book itself is to be a “how to” book for writing papers that will, I hope, be equally useful to first-year students and full professors. The trick is to define “academic writing” in a way that emphasizes the similarities between students and scholars.
The first week went quite well. I’m writing for an hour every morning between 7:00 and 8:00. I’ve written about 3000 words, but not in a sense that constitutes 15 or 20 discrete paragraphs. (Technically, I’ve only had time to write 10 x 27 minutes.) Some of the words make up paragraphs that are, as it were, second attempts at paragraphs. I’ve written a paragraph and then rewritten it within a single writing moment, or I have written one that was way too long and split it into two, keeping both for now to decide what to do with them later. At this rate, I’ll have twice the 6000-word goal before Christmas. Then I’ll have to read it through and reduce it to 30-40 paragraphs, i.e., 30-40 claims that I think are true about writing in an academic context.
I like the way it feels to work on the book this way. I’m saying things that I’ve known comfortably (or at least confidently believed) for some time, and which I have of course lectured and written about (here) often before. I’m working from the center of my strength for an hour every morning it. It’s a good way to start.