‘Writing is social as well as solitary’

I’ve been struggling with a piece of writing for an academic journal which needs revising. The editor of the journal sent the two reviewers’ comments to me and my co-author with a simple comment “you’ll see that the one reviewer is a tough customer”. This review is nearly seven pages long and feels like somehow we touched a nerve and set this person off. The lecturing tone also makes me feel like an intruder into someone else’s disciplinary home, so the decisions about how to rework the piece feel very fraught. This was the state of mind I took with me into a writing workshop with Pamela Nichols one recent Saturday. It didn’t take long before Pamela’s use of the “Toulminised” method of argument and lots of little squares of white paper with words like “claim”, “context”, “reason 1”, “reason 2”, “evidence for 1”, “evidence for 2” had sorted out this particular fog and indecision. I (and my co-author who was there too) now have a very clear idea of what we want to say, and how to find the important bits in the review and to ignore the unimportant bits. Continue reading “‘Writing is social as well as solitary’”