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"Writing With Soul" - on academic writing


Senior Member
"Writing With Soul"
May 22, 2013
By Rachel Toor
The Chronicle of Higher Education

I came across this on Twitter a while back (possibly via this Tweet from a doctor: https://twitter.com/trishgreenhalgh/status/337861043793563648 ).

Anyway, people who write may find it of interest.

I think the comments are well-worth reading if one reads the piece as they trash out the issues a bit more: I'm inclined to agree with those who say it's easier said than done to write with soul in technical situations. Also, one is dealing with lots of other issues with writing in peer-reviewed publications e.g. peer reviewers have to be happy, word counts, etc.

She concludes:

There may not be much call to write with soul in many types of scholarly work. And bravery in academic writing may not be rewarded with a standing ovation; it may, in fact, cause some trouble. The personal essay may not "count" on an academic CV. But acquiring the skills required to write with soul—learning to be honest and vulnerable on the page so that the reader sees not an author but a person, will help you find more readers, make you a better writer whatever the genre, and may even help you discover bits of your own well-armored soul.

This chimes with what an English teacher told us: he encouraged us to show vulnerabilities when writing compositions.
Try to be as honest as possible. Always worth remembering.

It is odd that what has become seen as the style of academia seems to make real honesty so difficult.


Bundle of purpliness
Writing semi-popular articles/books (not sure what the correct term would be here) about e.g. science or other academic pursuits - aimed at interested lay public - would be a good target group for writing with soul.