How to Write Academically – or Dream of It?

How do I write? What are my favourite writing habits?

Honestly, I sometimes wonder how I manage to get any academic staff written out at all, what with my work and teaching and extra commitments… I mostly dream out exciting new projects of research and never seem to get anything out… These thoughts are probably familiar for everyone in the academe.

So, how to get things wriiten out – and published? I have read an exciting post on Thesis Whisperer about using blog posts foracademic writing, and this sent me immediately to my own post.

I am one of those people who are wary about letting out their raw ideas into the www. However, I have used my blog a few times to test new ideas or share thoughts. Some remained in draft form, some got published, and it was fascinating reviewing the published ones a couple of years later, to see what I was thinking at the time and to revisit some of them. I do not have many published blog posts, and I publish infrequently, so reviewing my posts is easy.

I am a post-doc now, and have a part-time teaching position, but I am still eager to do research – trying to get funding for it, at least. Right now, my favourite technique for writing is to apply with a paper to a conference, write an abstract and, if the paper is accepted, I begin with a ppt, which works as a plan and draft for me. I can even make notes to slides, then re-work them into the finished paper. If I have a chance, I then write a solid article for conference proceedings. I did this for my recent paper on the ‘Representation of India through European Eyes’, and I posted both the ppt and the finished paper in my account, under Conferences and Drafts respectively. For this paper, I also created a short note in my weblog. Once, I got it the other way round, first writing a journal article and then giving a paper, on the Middle English poem ‘Capystranus’, which is a fascinating and bloody, fast-paced account of the siege of Belgrade by the Turks and its delivery by a Hungarian general, Prince Hunyadi, with miraculous intervention from God. The poem reads like a script for a Hollywood movie, really, and I was inspired by it. Both papers I mentioned are out of my field of research, so I drew on a lot of resources to prepare them, and apparently it worked, as I got both articles accepted and forthcoming!

Another way for me to get myself organized and inspired for a project is by creating a poster or something visual, a challenging image that crystallizes my ideas about a project. I work a lot with medieval art, so finding suitable image is not a problem. Most often the poster ends up in my folder, but potentially I can use it for my blog. My first published article, ‘An Alternative History of the Grail Quest’ , began with the image above, the same one as, in unedited form, introduces the journal article.


About thegrailquest

Anastasija Ropa holds a doctoral degree from Bangor University (North Wales), for a study in medieval and modern Arthurian literature. She has published a number of articles on medieval and modern Arthurian literature, focusing on its historical and artistic aspects. She is currently employed as guest lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education. Anastasija’s most recent research explores medieval equestrianism in English and French literary art and literature, and she is also engaged as part-time volunteer horse-trainer. In a nutshell: Lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education Graduate of the School of English, University of Wales, Bangor. Graduate of the University of Latvia Passionate about history, particularly the Middle Ages A horse-lover and horse-owner
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