Learning to Write


I haven’t written anything for a long time. As Henry Farrell has said

Genius may do as it will; mere intelligence and talent should be appropriately modest in their ambitions.

I did have aspirations that writing a blog would turn me into an erudite genius. Alas it has not, nor in most likelihood will it. I now see this blog as more of a scrap book of my life. A way to clip my thoughts onto others who have thought longer and harder about the intricacies of the world.

I am about to start a Masters program at the Institute of Education at UCL and I am feeling nervous about how my writing ability will stand up. My skill as an academic writer is a wee bit shabby. I think I have the ability to communicate in written form but I fear that much of the academic work that will be required of me this year will not be about communication but about reaching word counts. The problem with clear and simple prose that gets your point across in the least amount of words is that it often doesn’t get the best grade. Academics mistake simplicity for laziness.

I like these sarcy tips for aspiring academic writers, probably because I recognise most of them from the guff I have written on this blog and in essays previously.

I’m going to try and write more routinely as I hope that regularly flexing my literate muscles will help me in my studies. Pat Thompson has explored some of the reasons why blogging can help make you a better academic writer.

In his famous essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell concluded with six emphatic rules, including “never use a long word where a short one will do” and “never use the passive where you can use the active.” But the sixth rule was the key: “Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.”

I’ll leave you with this:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s