Thinking… and Writing Part 2: Be a thinking writer 思考與寫作 第二步:當個會思考的作者

As a scholar, an academic writer has a responsibility to read critically. This is not a difficult task for a person dedicated to scholarship; critical thinking comes naturally. Even so, sometimes there is a tenuous relationship between reading, thinking and, ultimately, writing. This 2-part series examines how mental activity translates into richer academic papers.

Part 2: Be a thinking writer

Having developed skills as an engaged and reflective reader, an academic writer’s next step in enriching a paper is to become an engaged and reflective writer. By doing so, a scholar is able to critically analyze a subject and paper as a writing project proceeds. This leads to constant refinement of a paper. Status quo is not a mental condition that serves a scholar well. The better condition is progressive evaluation, in which a writer keeps an open mind to fleeting thoughts, tangential considerations, and nuanced angles. In this way, a writer can surprise even himself.
學會做一個積極閱讀的反思性讀者(reflective reader)後,學術寫作的下個步驟即是豐富文章內容,成為積極並具反思性的作家。只要做到這點,在寫作的過程中便能從批判的角度來分析主題和文章。要達到這個目的,必須不斷地精煉文章。作為一名學者,切忌安於現狀,最好是不斷檢討,並時時放開胸懷捕捉偶發想法、注意相關細節、見微知著,這樣一來,就連作家也會對自己的作品感到驚訝。

Where beginning writers sometimes go wrong in this is to become chronic in their open-mindedness. While an open mind assures that the topic of a paper is explored thoroughly, resulting in few if any gaping holes in logic or fact, only pure philosophers perched on mountaintops have the luxury of pondering endlessly. The rest of us must reach conclusions and, in respect to academic papers, express them conclusively. So at some point, exploration must cease. Shallow scholarship can occur from too much indecisive exploration just as it can from material-skimming.

To avoid the embarrassment of being unable to sum up and finish a paper, a writer should be systematic in his exploration. Don’t just have a flash of insight, ponder it a moment, and work ahead with the good intention of returning to it. Rather, take time to write down the essence of the thought in a ledger. Then in a free moment, return to the noted thought and really examine it. Does it have sufficient merit to develop and include in the paper? Does it add value to the paper? If not, dismiss it. If it has possibilities, take time to explore it. Stay alert to insight; it can change a paper.


Posted at 2013-02-01 13:24:59

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