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The Work of Writing: Insights and Strategies for Academics and Professionals

ISBN: 978-0-7879-5679-0
144 pages
August 2001, Jossey-Bass
The Work of Writing: Insights and Strategies for Academics and Professionals  (0787956791) cover image


Professional and academic writing is often seen as dull, dry, and as boring to write as it is to read. In The Work of Writing, Rankin challenges these assumptions by encouraging the professional writer to develop a strong writing voice and become fully engaged with the writing process, thus producing written work that is lively and engaging. This book will give academic practitioners and other professionals critical help in determining what to write, how to write it, and how to position their written works succesfully for the markets they wish to reach. Rather than a style manual, The Work of Writing focuses on the thinking, strategizing, and decision making that goes on in the heads of academic and professional writers. In doing so, it deals with the complex issues of purpose, audience, genre, and voice that all writers face. Drawing on collective experience of academic and professional readers as well as writers, Rankin offers a framework to help writers think about their writing in realistic, practical, and productive ways. The book offers specific examples and "real-life" scenarios that are familiar to all academic writers--and by extension, to practicing professionals as well.
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Work of Writing.

Chapter 2. Contributing to the Professional Conversation.

Defining Your Contribution.

Getting Into the Conversation.

Maintaining Your Vision.

Chapter 3. Meeting Readers' Needs and Expectations.

Creating Signposts and Roadmaps.

Paying Attention to Genre Expectations.

Making Sense of the Conventions.

Dealing With Difficult Situations.

Resisting the Temptation to Recycle.

Chapter 4. Finding Your Professional Voice.

Claiming Ownership of Your Writing.

Exorcising the Grad Student Within.

Making It Personal.

Keeping It Under Control.

Chapter 5. Starting, Revising, and Finishing.

Getting Started.

Learning to Like Revising.

Getting It In the Mail.


Appendix A: Organizing a Writing Group.

Appendix B: Sample Book Proposal Guidelines.

Appendix C: A Few Good Books on Writing.


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Author Information

Elizabeth Rankin teaches English and directs a faculty development program at the University of North Dakota, where she leads writing seminars and teaching workshops for faculty of all disciplines. She is a consultant-evaluator for the National Council of Writing Program Administrators.
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"The Work of Writing achieves its promise to support writers as they enter the professional conversation." (The Department Chair; Summer 2004)

"Practical advice for academics and graduate students who want to hone their skills and liven up their writing." (Book News, Inc., November 2001)

"I admire this book and feel confident that readers will find it useful and a pleasure too. Rankin deftly chooses stories of actual writers and texts-stories that do a lot of work in a short space."
— Peter Elbow, department of English, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

"Faculty and graduate students in all disciplines who are trying to write articles, books, grants, curriculum guides, or other professional documents, will find Rankin's book an imaginative, sensible, and practical guide to strategizing, organizing, addressing audiences, and combining creativity with convention."
— Barbara Walvoord, director, Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, concurrent professor of English, and fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, University of Notre Dame

"This most engagingly written little book provides a wealth of clear and useful advice about the writing process from formulating a project through planning, drafting, and revising it. Professor Rankin communicates this advice through a dozen intimate stories about writers struggling with articles, proposals, and books, and, with the help of colleagues, bringing them to successful conclusions."
— Joseph M. Williams, professor emeritus, departments of English and Linguistics, The University of Chicago

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