There is another intermediate stage of editing, which is typically called ‘line edits’ in creative writing. This is the edit that is all about style and grace, about flow, about clarity and voice. In other words, this the edit that is absolutely not essential and many academic writers don’t bother with it. It’s a ‘nice to have’, a cherry on the cake, which is why I haven’t written about it before.
The doctoral journey looks different for everyone, but there are some common hard parts. Knowing that these parts can be hard for lots of people is often a bit reassuring. It also helps you to plan—I had a lot of friends doing their PhD ahead of me, so I was able to watch them and know what might be coming for me.
The book is now in with the series editor and going out to reviewers (2 weeks late, but also 2 weeks before the deadline I had written on my otherwise trusty whiteboard… a story for a later post!!). So in this little writing block I had in my day—too small for getting back into another big project—I thought I’d warm up the blog machine.
When I was part of the La Trobe RED team, and we were running our Accelerated Completion Programme for late-stage PhD candidates, we got people to do a thing we called a ‘writing audit’, where you counted up what was in all the sections of your PhD, and then worked out what was still missing. It could be scary, or a massive relief, but either way it gave you a sense of where you actually were.
In other words, yes add to your word count and update your EndNote library. But also take time to mull things over or let things mature. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Do your front burner and your back burner work to sustainably, excellently, elegantly, enjoyably create writing that will wow your readers.
Writing advice gets under people’s skin and into their guts and hearts. When I chat to a person whose self perception of their writing is a long way off the reality I see on the page, I often ask them ‘who told you your writing was like that?’ A school teacher, an undergraduate lecturer, a supervisor. Those comments stick, sometimes for decades.
There is no one ideal posture that you should take and maintain for the full working day. Instead, the best posture is actually a series of different positions. At home, you already have a range of furniture and spaces available to you, so it’s easier to switch it up. Changing how you sit every so often, even if it’s just moving chairs every few hours, can make a huge different to your comfort and mobility. Move from the desk to the sofa and back again, or out to the balcony. Stand at the breakfast bar, or use that treadmill or stationary bike in the living room.
This post encourages us to think deeply about how authorship debates are part of broader questions of what authorship is for, who it is for, and who benefits from it. The examples in this post help us to see that there are established of ways of attributing authorship that can acknowledge these collectives, and perhaps encourage us to be innovative or accurate in our authorship practices.