Writing workshop event summary
The PGN hosted its first event of 2023 on 18 January. Dr Clare Lynch facilitated the online writing workshop with the aim of strengthening writing skills for PGRs and ECRs. Some highlights of the workshop are below.
Understanding what good writing is about
The idea here was to emphasise the importance of the reader in any writing endeavour. The Lede (the first sentence or opening paragraph of a news story) was presented as the most significant point in any writing. In non-academic writing like reports, policy briefs or journalistic pieces, the lede is the end goal. This could be the request made, recommended course of action, etc. while for academic writing, the lede could be the thesis statement/key message.
Questions to bear in mind when writing
- Who is my reader?
- What do I want my reader to do, know, think or feel after reading?
- Why should the reader care?
- The need for clarity in any writing was emphasised.
- The two Es of clarity which are Empathy and Editing were also explored.
- Worthy of note for empathy is the need to avoid expert traps such as gaps (missing definitions, examples, etc); lack of flow (ideas not linked clearly); flab (repetition and general wordiness); long sentences (aiming for 35 words max) and abstraction.
- A number of tools were suggested for writers to use to check that the identified gaps are avoided.
- A number of tips for editing were suggested. Amongst others, they include aiming for UFD (ugly first draft), spending as much time editing as you write, reading like your reader and reading out loud.
Additional tips shared for overcoming fear of starting to write
- Start with the easy bit.
- The Pomodoro technique: setting a timer for a few minutes and focusing on writing during that time. The goal of this is to build momentum and have a draft to edit eventually.