Becoming an academic writer

Word count: 277 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers.

A participant in my Extreme Writing Makeover course alerted me that she was writing a book on writing and, better yet, last week she sent me a copy, hot off the presses. Patricia Goodson — a professor and director of  the Writing Initiative at Texas A&M University —  believes passionately that anyone can write.

Her book, Becoming An Academic Writer, will provide special solace to the professors and students who must write but who often hate or fear doing so. Written in an informal, helpful manner, the book’s strongest feature is the series of 50 exercises it provides.

For example, exercises 9 to 11 aim to improve academic vocabularies. Goodson’s tips?

#9. Learn one new word and use it in your writing as many times as possible that day.

#10. Develop a list of words commonly used in your field and put them into the following categories: verbs, adjectives/adverbs, transitions, phrases. Then write one sentence using a word from each of the four categories.

#11. Create your own glossary relating to your field. Begin by spending 10 minutes (no longer!) reading a journal article, slowly and carefully. Mark any terms you don’t know or aren’t 100% sure about. Then spend another 10 minutes adding these words and their definitions to your own glossary. (Do this regularly.)

If the idea of Deliberate Practice resonates with you, know that I consider Goodson’s exercises to offer real-life examples of how academic writers can use this fantastic learning method to enrich their professional lives.

Scroll to Top