Post Academic


The Benefits of Boundaries

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionEstablishing a shorter time to degree has its pros and cons. One major pro might surprise you: Writing gets better when you are forced to work with boundaries, whether they are deadlines, word limits, or formatting restrictions.

Lifehacker suggests that people are more productive when faced with limits because you have to get creative. The best limit I set for myself is trying to answer one single question in a piece of writing. “What do I want someone to think or do after reading this piece?”

Usually, in the kind of writing that I do, the answer is simple: Buy now, call us, click through, etc. Once you have that goal, you can flesh it out. Otherwise, you’ll get lost, and the reader will get lost as you try to explain several different ideas at once.

This is tough for academics because academic writing involves a slow buildup, and the best academics can build an argument brick by brick. This style has value and can lead to surprising conclusions, but if you want to hook a reader, you need to at least suggest that you will answer one question. Then, once the reader is hooked, you can go all Derrida on them and take them on the theoretical equivalent of a magic carpet ride.

FYI: I hope that, after reading this piece, you set a deadline for finishing your dissertation or turning your resume into a CV.

Image of the seen power of the picket fence by Idir Fida from Vancouver, Canada, from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

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