Exercises to help your writing

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a book written by Patricia Goodson…

My favourite book for academic writers is They Say, I Say, which is designed to identify the key rhetorical moves for grad students. At the heart of the matter is learning how to summarize what other scholars have said (also known as a “lit review”) and then learning how to marshal your own arguments.

Another book, with a different objective, is Becoming an Academic Writer by Patricia Goodson. Building on the concept of Deliberate Practice, Goodson provides 50 exercises aimed at helping struggling writers become more productive.

Here is part of what she has to say in her preface:

As I learned, practiced, and saw the positive outcomes in my own writing, I became convinced anyone can write—as long as they learn the steps to developing a healthy writing habit.

I share Goodson’s belief that anyone can write and that deliberate practice will help. Her chapter on editing and proofreading is likely to be useful to anyone struggling with those tasks, and particularly useful for English-as-a-second-language students, for whom she offers specific tips.

Now in its second edition, the book offers an appendix titled: “How to Stop Making the Literature Review an Excuse for Not Writing,” which I know many PhD students will find useful.