Toolkit: Writing

  • General advice: Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams, Parts III and IV in The Craft of Research, 3rd (University of Chicago Press): 103-268;
  • If you’d like to experiment with less orthodox writing structures (and I hope you do!): John McPhee, “Structure,” The New Yorker (January 14, 2013).
  • If you have trouble overcoming blocks: Anne Lamott, “Shitty First Drafts” and “Perfectionism” in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anchor Books, 1994): 21-32.
  • If you have a tendency to overwrite: John McPhee, “Omission,” The New Yorker (September 14, 2015) [on cutting things out] and William Zinsser, “Simplicity,” “Clutter,” and “Style,” in On Writing Well, 5th (HarperPerennial, 1994): 7-25.
  • If you’re curious about other writers’ processes, or if you’re a non-native-English speaker: Helen Sword, “The Craft of Writing” and “The Other Tongue” in Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write (Harvard University Press, 2017): 78-101 [on different writers’ processes; writing tips for non-native English speakers + writers]
  • If you’re writing a thesis: Umberto Eco, “Writing the Thesis” in How to Write a Thesis, trans. Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina (MIT Press, 2015): 145-84 [on audience, clarity, footnotes, quoting things, etc.].
  • If you’re concerned about the aesthetics, ethics, and epistemologies of citation — which sounds super-boring, but isn’t!: Helen Sword, “Points of Reference” in Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard University Press, 2012): 135-46.

Image: Kyle Bean