Learning from the Pros: UF English Professor Writes Book about How Faculty Write
Instances such as writer’s block and general ambivalence aren’t exclusive to amatuers, as it turns out. “I slog through my scholarly work,” admits Cindy Selfe, a retired English professor and digital composition theorist who has published several works regarding writing pedagogy.
So how do the professionals cope? What are their success methods? How do they “get in the zone” and reach the publication finish line? Nuanced, insightful answers, including the above down-to-earth tidbit from Selfe, are highlighted in “How Writing Faculty Write: Strategies for Process, Product, and Productivity,” by English professor Christine Tulley, Ph.D.
The 178-page book, published by Utah State University Press, aims to tell the writing “backstory” of seasoned academic practitioners, identify patterns, and capture composition’s complexities. But the publication can also be helpful for the rest of us who are looking for practical tips, ideas and encouragement. For instance, some faculty write best in the mornings, some require quiet space with no one else present, some insist on daily to-do lists, and a few set daily sentence or word count goals.
The book is a response to the dearth of published material that addresses how writing teachers write their own material, noted Tulley, who also directs UF’s Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Program, and is its Center for Teaching Excellence faculty liaison.
She was inspired by the 1953 Paris Review “Writers at Work” interview series, which highlighted acclaimed writers such as Truman Capote and Dorothy Parker. By focusing on physical spaces, such as studios, and process, such as writing within blocks of time, the conversational interviews explained how works came to fruition. “How Writing Faculty Write” models that style with interviews from 15 well-known English and composition professors, such as Cheryl Glenn and Jessica Enoch.
“I’m really pleased with how the book turned out,” said Tulley. “Writing faculty are responsible for the hundreds of first year writing textbooks on the market and giving writing advice to students. No one ever asks them if they use the same writing strategies for their own work. ‘How Writing Faculty Write’ explains how they balance the teaching of writing and doing writing.”
“How Writing Faculty Write” is available for purchase on Amazon.