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V. Academic Blogging: Becoming a Better Writer

Oct 17, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

It may seem counter-intuitive to think of blogging as a tool to help you become a more productive and effective writer for your “regular” scholarly output. You may protest “How can it increase my over-all productivity when it takes up so much time?” Think of it this way: By forcing yourself to write down those things that perhaps would continue to roll around in your head, you can more quickly deal with issues, solve problems, and have opportunities to receive feedback. And I cannot emphasize enough how supportive a community the academic blogosphere can be.

Blogs are opportunities to just let yourself go and write. Blog posts are not peer-reviewed journal articles. They are not conference presentations, nor are they book manuscripts. Blogging is writing for a different purpose, writing for yourself. When you take the pressure off yourself, pressure that comes from the peer-review process (not to mention the hiring and tenure processes), you can feel free to just write. And this can lead to a better relationship with your writing.

When I am struggling with an issue, distracted, or frustrated (often all three), I take the time to “blog-it-out.” I basically free-write my way through whatever is bothering me to try and work out my issues, proofread for spelling mistakes, and then publish it. This helps me get out of my own head while also connecting with people who may be struggling with similar issues and makes me feel less alone. Plus, on Twitter and in the comments, I receive advice and support that helps me keep going and work through the tough spots. Even one unsolicited email from a reader thanking me for writing what I did can fuel my productivity for months.

Blogs are an effective way to find your writing voice. There is space to play in a blog, to experiment, and to try on different writerly personae. Some bloggers go as far as creating an entirely new personae for the blog. For example, Roxy’s blog, is supposedly written by a dog. One thing I have experimented with is creating a “series” where I can write in a new and different way, but the reader knows that this is what I am doing, and thus they can modify their expectations. My Bad Female Academic series was one such experiment.

Blogging also nurtures a daily writing habit. Writing every day, if only to “write-it-out” on the blog can help with your overall productivity. Rather than binge-writing, you can write a little bit every day, working towards your overall goal.

When thinking about whether you want to start to blog, consider how blogging might help your academic writing. If you do decide to start a blog, you have to have a vision for your blog and your writing. In the next post,  you will learn how to develop a clear vision for your blog.
 

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