Preparing Future-ready Writers

Helen Sword

8:30 – 12:00 (half-day morning workshop)

Seasoned academic writers understand that the joys of writing are inextricably bound up with the hard labour of craftsmanship.  That message, however, is not always so clear to our students.  Books, blogs, and websites aimed at undergraduate writers tend to focus mainly on analytical thinking skills, productive writing habits, and stylistic conventions rather than on fostering intellectual nourishment and delight.  As a result, all too many of our students regard formal writing as an irritating chore on the way to a degree, the educational equivalent of “Shut up and eat your vegetables.” 

How can we bring pleasure back into our students’ writing – and our own?  Building on recent research findings about the writing habits of successful academics, this workshop will take participants through a staged process designed to help them empower their academic development colleagues, energise their students, and transform their own writing practice.  First, they will investigate their personal pleasure points (that is, the writing genres and situations that they most enjoy) and identify the writing-related tasks that drain their energy and sap their enjoyment.  Next, they will be introduced to five key principles – social, physical, aesthetic, creative, and emotional – associated with both productivity and pleasure. Finally, they will work individually and collaboratively to imagine new ways – for their colleagues, their students, and themselves – of finding pleasure in and taking pleasure from writing.