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A blog on academic writing and language for EAL PhD students and ECRs


Wendy Baldwin
Linguaverse Linguistic Solutions

  • Wendy Baldwin

Ebb and flow in writing

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Today during our Writing Sprint sessions we talked a bit about shifting gears, pulling back, making progress in one session but then hitting a bump in the road in the next (or vice versa), about swapping one writing or productivity tool out for another, about learning which tools serve which purpose(s). Writing is an iterative process. By its very nature, the path between idea and release is full of twists and turns, of climbing hills and coasting towards valleys, of sailing on smooth seas and then hitting choppy waters. The fact that we have so many metaphors available to use to talking about this uneven process is a sign of how pervasive the experience is.

Rowena Murray writes about this in The Handbook of Academic Writing:

Successive stages of advance and retreat might themselves be characterized by different kinds of activities. Certain stages of advance require unbridled brainstorming, while later stages might require the active integration of the critique of others into your writing. Certain stages of retreat require listening to other perspectives on your writing for the first time, while subsequent stages of retreat may require a re-examination of those critiques and insights in ways that might even cause you to come full circle (p. 180).

This pattern of advancing and retreating is a perfectly normal part of writing, so when it happens, don't let it throw you off. Know that when you stop to rest, reflect, listen and reassess, you will return to forward movement and your writing will be all the better for going with the ebb and flow.

Photo credit: Tim Peterson on Unsplash


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