Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問
The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I am a slow, slow writer, or so people tell me. I admit I take longer than most people to complete a paper. It is because I try to choose each word rather than just to fill up a page with them. Isn’t it virtuous to select words carefully?

An old maxim is, “Moderation in everything.” I don’t believe in it. (Is it better to swallow moderate amounts of water while swimming, or none?) But the saying does address the issue of being inflexible to the point of becoming an extremist. Most of us know where the line generally falls between being faithful to a principle and being obsessed by it. It really is a question of judgment. In regard to writing, while word choice indeed is a key ingredient in effective written communication, words ultimately must be chosen reasonably fast or nothing gets expressed.

So, you are exactly right to care about each word. Such dedication is one mark of a good writer. If you are as careful in your research and attribution, you undoubtedly are producing scholarly papers to be admired. However, another virtue a writer should cultivate is efficiency. With notable exceptions, successful writers learn to write with certain dispatch, marshaling their thoughts and effectively matching the thoughts to words—and completing the creative exercise within a reasonable timeframe. This economy allows them to write at length in an allotted time.

The process is helped immeasurably by development of a vocabulary from which a writer can extract a perfect word. Reading, writing, thinking, and listening are tools that build vocabularies. A tool for learning to write more quickly is confidence. This comes into play in rewriting. A good writer can feel comfortable assembling words at a fast pace that captures fleeting thoughts, knowing that the wording can be revisited and revised as part of a general rewrite. A writer is freed from worrying over a first draft when he has an ample vocabulary and the rewriting habit.

cron web_use_log