book writing, day two

Well, it’s always about getting started. Despite knowing yesterday what we wanted to say today, we didn’t quite know how it was going to go.

Overnight I had the idea that it would be good to go back to the very first thing we wrote together – a conference paper – in 2001. We’d structured the paper as an email conversation about how we hated the term ‘writing up’. ’ We used this ‘dialogue’ form to develop our initial views about writing and writing research. It was very interesting to go back to this piece and see how much of it we still believed – most of it in fact. So this became the start of the introduction.

We then moved on to spell out the key characteristics of this new book – our mode of address (you), the pedagogic nature of the writing and the ordering of events into four major chunks of work that have to be done in order to finish the PhD.

We stopped for lunch at about 1 30 and headed off for a noodle soup and a bit of time to think about what we were trying to do. We were of course still working on the text even though we had changed locations. We eventually decided that we needed to provide better guidance for the reader about what was coming up in the book – and we knew this would work for us as writers too. Saying the equivalent of “There are six things we have to tell you about this book…” helped us get our act together. We not only had to spell out the way that each point lead to the next and built on the last, but we also had to think about how much we needed to write about each point.

We’re about half way through the introduction now, and we both hope it’ll be slightly easier going tomorrow. We still have to write something about pedagogy, and about why we say we are offering strategy and not advice or tips and tricks. In theory, writing these sections ought to be easy as we’ve made these points before. But we’re trying not to repeat what we’ve said in previous books; we really are having to come up with new things as we go along. So it could be time consuming rather than the quick-write we are hoping for.

It’s been a bit tough today, truth be told. I’m more frustrated with this than Barbara and I am certainly hoping that we can get cracking on the book proper by this time tomorrow. Right now, I am suspecting I may not have quite finished with writing. Even though it’s nearly six in the evening, I reckon I may well just have to see if there’s anything I can tidy up tonight in order to save time when we start tomorrow morning, bright and early.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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2 Responses to book writing, day two

  1. Dear Pat,
    Thank you so much for allowing us to peek the behind the scenes” of your progress writing the book. I always enjoy hearing about the highs and lows which accompany the construction of text. As an early career researcher, it is important for me to be reminded that even experienced and published authors are challenged by the task (even when they know what they want to say).

    I am equally interested in your special writing relationship with Barbara. At this stage, I’m constantly aware that for me writing is a very solitary activity – despite my belonging to a doctoral writing group and having wonderful supervisors who give me constructive feedback.

    I first read “Talking down “Writing up”” while I was attempting to write my MEd thesis; your paper really helped me see how varied academic writing can be.
    I am already waiting to read how your writing develops tomorrow,
    best of luck! Nikki


  2. residentjudge says:

    I’m interested in watching a shared-authorship project unfold. I must admit that I can’t really imagine co-writing with someone else. You’ve done it before and have obviously established trust in each other as writers.


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