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Academic Coaching & Writing

XXXI. An Academic, Writing: Ending the Blog Series

Sep 12, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

When I started this series over eight months ago, I came in with the goal of completing a full book manuscript. I was ambitious, overly-so. I’m ending this series with a different completed book manuscript, a revision of my dissertation, which I have just sent off to an academic publisher. In between, I’ve learned so much about myself as an academic writer.


I need routines and structure in order to be a productive academic writer. I might be able to write a blog post just about anywhere, but I need my sacred writing time in order to get the hard work of academic writing done in any sort of productive and meaningful way. I am grateful for the Virtual Academic Writing Room, particularly the opening visualization exercises to help get my mind in the right space to be productive.


For all of my success as a blogger, I still held on to a lot of anxieties about my academic writing, questioning my own authority. This not only made it difficult to write, as I would keep reading in my quest to shore up my expertise, but also made for weak academic writing. I would bury my own ideas and my own voice under piles of block quotes and tentative language. I need to write academically the way I blog: confidently. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing the ordering of two sentences, so that my voice comes first, before the quote, rather than the other way around. Sometimes it’s relegating a quote or reference into the footnotes, acknowledging its existence and importance, but allowing for my ideas to be in the foreground. Other times, it’s just using more active, confident verbs (for example, This book will rather than this study tries to). These are academic writing habits that I had long had and practiced; they are second nature to me. But I can see them much more readily now, and it gives me a “way in” to my editing work, both on this project and future projects.


I’m still not a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, but at least I am more aware of my habits. Now that I can more readily identify my writing patterns, I am in a better position to fix them. Revising will always be a chore for me, and I will continue to value a fresh set of eyes looking critically at my work in order to make my writing better. But, I now feel more confident in my own ability to improve my writing, as well as now having a deep sense of satisfaction and pride when I see how my work gets significantly better through my efforts. I’m going to remember this feeling, because I’ll need it the next time I want to give up and just submit something “good enough.”

Just Keep Writing

I still love writing. And I still love the topics that I am studying and writing about. Sometimes I need to take a break from the work, to gain some distance and perspective, to remember why I took on these projects to begin with. But at the end of the day, I need to remember not to give up, and to just keep writing. I have something to say, and I’m going to keep trying to say it.

Thanks to Sally for giving me this opportunity to work in the Writing Room, to Nisi for her excellent facilitating skills, and to my academic coaches, Moira and Amy, for all of their hard work and patience with me. This whole experience has had a profound impact on me and my writing.

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