This one-month course is intended to introduce you to the basic principles of Writing Process Reengineering. It consists of two 3-hour seminars, a master class, and 20 hours of individual writing. The structure is very simple and practical, requiring about 1 hour of writing per day outside of the formal instruction.
The course is organized around the composition of a roughly 8000-word draft research paper in the social sciences. Though a participant who follows the whole course should end up with a complete draft, however, the aim is not to get a paper finished and ready for publication. The aim is to become a better writer and to master a discipline that will foster continuous progress also after the course is over.
This course should be of particular interest to doctoral students and early-career researchers, but anyone who wants to improve their writing should be able to get something out of it.
It runs “live” in the spring of each year at the Copenhagen Business School. But this page can also serve as a basis for self-directed study at any time. Watch the introductory seminar, and read through the relevant pages on this site (linked below). Then make a plan for 9 hours (18 paragraphs) of writing, to be carried out over roughly two weeks. If you wish, you can now attend a virtual masterclass (held at the middle of every month from September to June). Follow that with another 11 hours of writing and wrap it up with the capstone seminar.
Your commitment is about 9 hours of instruction and about 20 hours of writing. The “deal” is that you write each paragraph in a disciplined and deliberate fashion, always deciding the day before what you are going to say. To support you in this endeavor, I have provided 20 podcasts that are intended to be listened to at the end of each weekday during the four-week process. Like I usually say, if you want to work in some completely different way I will try to help if you ask, but I’m not sure how good I’ll be at it. If you are doing things my way, I know exactly how to help you do it better.
If you have any questions, either before you begin, or as you go, feel free to contact me by email.
I. Introductory Seminar
In this seminar, I present the basic idea of WPR and the structure of the course. We talk about how we can approach the relationship between knowing and writing, what paragraphs are, how to become better at composing them, and how to arrange them into full research papers. I emphasize the importance of having a number of deliberate, formal writing experiences before the masterclass.
Here’s the video from the May 2, 2023 seminar:
For next time (in preparation for the master class): 9 hours of writing. Using the “standard” outline. Write 18 paragraphs, covering all of the sections of a research paper — the three paragraphs of the introduction, two for background, two for methods, two for theory, six for analysis, two for discussion, and one for the conclusion. This will constitute a short draft.
To get started, you may want to read my post “Five Easy Paragraphs”. To remind yourself of what a “writing moment” is, check out “Composing the Moment, Part 1…” and “…part 2”. If you want to be guided through the moment step by step, try the virtual paragraph-writing workshop.
II. Master Classes
Master classes will be held on an ad-hoc basis near the middle of every month. Please contact me before the first day of the month if you are planning to take the self-study course to arrange a suitable time.
About mid-way through every calendar month, there is an online master class for people who are taking this course as self-study. Participants submit their short drafts of about 18 paragraphs in advance of the master class and select one paragraph to receive feedback on. We take the selected paragraphs and read them out loud, analyze them, and work-shop them as a group. (You can read more about my master classes in this post.)
For the first master class (in 2022), I made some introductory remarks. The audio can be heard here:
For next time: 11 hours of writing. Participants will write another 22 paragraphs, filling in the holes of their short draft, resulting in a first draft of a full paper. You will of course decide yourself which 22 paragraphs need to be written, and you may even decide that your time is best spent rewriting some of the paragraphs you have already written, but a rough estimate is that this time you’ll be writing three more paragraphs of background, three of theory, three of method, nine of analysis, three of discussion, and one last paragraph for the conclusion.
III. Capstone Seminar
The experience of the preceding weeks is discussed. Participants will ideally have had 40 highly structured, very explicit experiences of writing, and there will be much to talk about on their basis alone. The seminar also offers a model of time management particularly suited to scholars and some tools for implementing and maintaining the process going forward.
Here’s the video from the the November 2022 capstone seminar:
In addition to the seminars and masterclass, participants are encouraged to listen to a daily, 10-minute podcast at the end of their working day, before they decide what they will write the next day.
Over the next seven podcasts, I will be going through the “Seven Little Disciplines” of scholarly composition. Below each podcast, you’ll find a link to a blogpost that covers some of the same ground.
See also: “The First Discipline: Objectivity”
See also: “The Second Discipline: Assertion”
See also: “The Fourth Discipline: Knowing”
See also: “The Fifth Discipline: Simplicity”
See also: “The Sixth Discipline: Orality”
See also: “The Seventh Discipline: Perfection”
See also: “Discipline Zero”
See also: “The Paragraph”
See also: “Enjoy the Company”