Quotes on the process of writing

Some interesting ideas about writing have called my attention while browsing through “How to Get a PhD”. This book was recommended to me by my MSc thesis supervisor as a source of insightful observations about thesis writing; though it focuses on the PhD process, many ideas are also applicable to MSc theses. Here I quote some useful bits.

Authors often write and rewrite to discover what it is that they have to say.

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Written language has been referred to as “the means of discovery of new knowledge”.

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Writing makes people think about their work in a different way.

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You should deliberately leave your work in the middle […]. Your psychological need to complete the task provides you with extra internal pressure to return in order to finish what you have started. It also makes re-starting easier and quicker.

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They suggest that “think-while-you-write” strategies be consciously adopted from the start of the writing process and not lapsed into by default when “think-then-write” strategies have failed.

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The process of writing and rewriting is key.

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Our recommendation is that you approach every piece of writing in the following way. […]

  • generate the main points […], putting down everything that comes into your mind;
  • organize them into an acceptable structure; […]
  • construct the points into grammatical paragraphs.
Interestingly, the “writing to learn” idea is in tune with some popular ideas about blog writing: