What Poetry Teaches Us

To honor each word. Whether it is 20 words or 6000, each one is a considered choice. Remember – any word that doesn’t add to the reader’s understanding, detracts from it.

To listen. There is music in good scholarly writing. It carries the reader through the ebb and flow of reason, fact, and argument. The use of pacing – long and short sentences, paragraphs and white space, anticipation and reward – creates rhythm and keeps the reader moving forward.

To search for the one perfect way to say something. Each revision edges us toward it. Though we may not get there, we will get closer for the effort.

To go deep. The surface is not of interest, it doesn’t excite the reader. It isn’t where new knowledge lives. When you think you know – read more, think more, and keep writing.

To value discovery. Write to discover what you know and what you don’t know yet. It is not about making it all fit – the evidence, the conclusion, the implications. It is about figuring out where it is taking you, what it is telling you. Scholarly writing is critical thinking on paper. Be open to what is revealed as you write and use it to expand your vision and the vision of your readers.

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