Writing is a Discipline

Posted on March 19, 2007

Writing well takes discipline, explains Laurence Steinberg (bio).


I don't think there is instruction in how to write for journalists, how to write for policymakers. I think the best way to learn it is to kind of apprentice with somebody who does it well. I think academic writing doesn't have to be bad writing. I think we tolerate it as often when it's bad, but doesn't have to be. What I've learned over the years is that my students don't realize how much time people spend writing and rewriting and rewriting. I mean, I might write 25 drafts of something before I'm happy with it, and I don't think that students understand that. They see it when it's already published. They don't know how many times the person has written and rewritten and gone over and I look at every single word, every single word in every single sentence and ask myself, "Is that the word that I want to use?" That takes a lot of discipline and it's something that not everybody's willing to do.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in March 2006.


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