Listen to this interview of Helen Sword, author of Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard UP, 2012). We talk about bad writing, but a lot more about how to make it good. There's even a dog.
Interviewer : "What is it that keeps most students and then, too, many early-career academics away from making the effort to write well?"
Helen Sword : "Writing is seen as this utilitarian thing. You've got to learn it. It's got lots of rules. If you get things wrong, somebody's going to put red ink on there or red tracked changes or whatever. There's a lot of emotional baggage tied up with the hard work of writing well, and yet when I interviewed successful academic writers, what I heard over and over again, was about the pleasures that they take in the hard work of the craft. And that's where, for me, I link the pleasures of writing well back to stylish academic writing, to the craft of writing well. Those two things have got to go hand in hand to be a long-term sustainable kind of enterprise."
Daniel Shea, heads Scholarly Communications, a Special Series on the New Books Network. Daniel is Director of the Heidelberg Writing Program, a division of the Language Center at Heidelberg University, Germany. Just write Daniel.Shea@zsl.uni-heidelberg.de