I recently re-read Cal Newport’s Deep Work in preparation for my new book on writing and wellbeing. And soon enough I started to notice that the people he uses as exemplars of doing deep work were … all pretty similar. By my reading, there are only two women in the book who are described as doing deep thinking. And yet, perhaps, ladies* would still like to do deep work.
I am a massive fan of writing luxuries. Somehow the beautiful pencil or the diffuser scent or the ideal snack makes an outsized difference to how excited I am to sit at my keyboard. Maybe it’s a bourgeois trick, and maybe it’s self-care, and maybe it works for me and anything that works is worth exploring.
gap between what you know, what your supervisors know, and what the people who are actually going to approve your work, your examiners, know.
Everyone has a path to expertise, and sometimes it’s helpful to loop back to an earlier time, when I was trying to work out how these book-length things even were possible, long before I accidentally wrote three books in a year. It’s a story involving a typewriter and a very long poem.
I hear a lot of conflicting advice on how to write sentences, and I bet you do too. Should you write short sentences, because they are easier to read? Should you write longer sentences because they sound more academic? Should you write a careful mix of sentences, because that creates good flow?
I wrote about writer’s block, what it is and how to address it, over on the blog for the Research Education and Development team at La Trobe University.
Each revision, taking on board questions and concerns and advice and changes, takes my work a little bit away from me. For me, this is a good thing! Unlike this blog post, which I wrote, editing and published myself (hence the fact that there are often typos!), academic writing for publication has been read and commented on and changed by multiple people over multiple stages. The article or book goes from being ‘my’ work, to being, in some way, ‘our’ work.
A PhD is often inspired by a particular vision–either your own passion project or a passion project of a more senior researcher. When you pitched the thesis to funders and your faculty, the project was going to be a sweeping, world-changing, life-changing research idea that would proceed without any hitches. And then you have to deal with real life.