Advice from the Masters: Helen Sword

Sep 13, 2017 | Better Writing

Helen Sword is, among other things, a faculty member at the University of Auckland who, among other things, helps academics write better. I read an interview with her that’s part of Rachel Toor’s “Scholars Talk Writing” series. That led me to her marvelous book, Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write. She interviewed a hundred successful academic writers to find out what they did. Guess what?

She discovered that every successful writer figures out his or her own way. It’s what Mason Currey said in his book, Daily Rituals. It’s what I’ve learned working with dozens of writers.

Ah, true, but what about the advice to “write every day.” Sword’s book includes a discussion of the benefits of daily writing. She describes six benefits of a daily writing habit. I chose the one below because most of my clients struggle to carve out time to write from their demanding schedules.

“Daily writing keeps your research always at the top of your mind. However cluttered your schedule may become with meetings, teaching, administrative tasks, and other obligations, a daily writing jag guarantees that you have spent at least some part of every workday thinking about your research.”

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts

If you want even more writing advice from writers, check out Jon Winokur’s blog, “AdvicetoWriters.”

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