Professors as Writers by Robert Boice

November 6, 2014 by Claudia Scholz

As art of OSP’s support of Academic Writing Month, we’ll be posting words of wisdom from key books and blogs.  These are not posted here so that you’ll spend November reading!  We’ll summarize the key points so that you can focus on writing!Screenshot 2014-11-03 15.12.50

Published in 1990, Robert Boice’s “Professors as Writers is a self-help manual for colleagues who want to write more productively, painlessly, and successfully.”  The first part of the book discusses various reasons that faculty struggle with writing productivity. Among these, he lists fears of failure, internal censors, procrastination, perfectionism, work habits and negative early experiences.  Clearly, writing has as much to do with emotions as it does technical skills.

Boice’s solution is for faculty to engage in regular free-writing practice.

…writing often proceeds most smoothly and fluently when writers work without conscious reflection… When they do so, writers master a most important skill. They learn to write without feeling “ready,” without feeling fully in control, without awaiting inspiration. (p. 41)

Through free-writing, authors begin “to separate the producing process from the revising process” (p. 53).  The idea is to write about anything that comes to mind, in order to et past the emotional hindrances to writing.  This process is expected to clear mental cobwebs, aid in thinking, and possibly even generate ideas for later, more purposeful writing.

Another author who has advocated for free-writing as a tool for creativity and purposeful writing is Julia Cameron who, in the book The Artist’s Way, coined the term “morning pages” to describe the act of writing three pages every day in order to clear the mind for creativity. In this video

Basic Tool: Morning Pages from Julia Cameron on Vimeo.

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