Academic writing month starts tomorrow!

November is Academic Writing Month: What are you going to work on?

This past week I’ve been participating in a 14-Day Writing Challenge with the National Center for Faulty Development and Diversity. The idea here is to log in every day, set a timer, and start writing. Participants are encouraged to read others’ comments and send good vibes by writing positive comments for others in their groups. I’ve tried the strategy of participating in writing groups online and logging writing time and it has always worked well to help me write and to keep writing. By being accountable to others, I’m able to find at least 30 minutes a day to write — even on those days that are filled with meetings and teaching responsibilities.  This helps reinforce habits that continue after the challenge ends. If you’d like to try this, the Spring 2020 14-Day writing challenge is now open at the National Center for Faulty Development and Diversity (although you will need to check if your institution provides faculty access to this resource).

But what about you? What are some things that might inspire you to think about writing, representation, and of course, to experiment with trying something new in your writing?

Creative approaches to representation

For those who would like to try out some creative approaches to writing, Ron Pelias’ (2019) book provides lots of writing exercises to explore. Read on if you would like more detail about Pelias’ book. 

Another text that helps us think more about how researchers represent others in their work is John van Maanen’s (2011) well-cited book, Tales of the field: On writing ethnography, now in a second edition. This book explores how findings might be written in “realist”, “impressionist” and “confessional” styles. Miller, Creswell, and Olander (1998) provide an example of how these approaches to writing up findings might be applied to ethnographic research conducted in a soup kitchen. Another book written by feminist anthropologist Margery Wolf (1992) represents tales from her ethnographic fieldwork in Taiwan in three forms: anthropological fieldnotes, a fictional story, and a traditional social science article. For those inclined to post qualitative work (St. Pierre, 2011), Jasmine Ulmer’s (2018) article on Composing techniques outlines creative strategies to get going.

Then there are other events to check out…

The Textbook and Academic Authors Association is hosting two webinars in November:

  • November 7: Writing your first book: Developing your dissertation into a manuscript
  • November 19: Responding to reviewers’ comments

To view these, you will need to sign up. Membership to TAA is $25 for graduate students; $50 for untenured faculty; $100 for tenured faculty; or you can try it out for 30 days for $10.

Sage Methodspace is hosting a free webinar:

And if you want to explore other topics on writing, see other blogposts on Qualpage:

Translating academic writing into trade books 

On developing stylish academic writing 

Tools for writing up qualitative research 

Finding inspiration for academic writing 

Useful texts on reading and writing 

A writer’s guide to getting trim 

Kathy Roulston 


Miller, D. L., Creswell, J. W., & Olander, L. S. (1998). Writing and Retelling Multiple Ethnographic Tales of a Soup Kitchen for the Homeless. Qualitative Inquiry, 4(4), 469-491. doi:10.1177/107780049800400404

Pelias, R. (2019). The creative qualitative researcher: Writing that makes readers want to read London & New York: Routledge.

St. Pierre, E. (2011). Post qualitative research: The critique and the coming after. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 611-625). Los Angeles: Sage.

Ulmer, J. B. (2018). Composing Techniques: Choreographing a Postqualitative Writing Practice. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(9), 728-736. doi:10.1177/1077800417732091

Van Maanen, J. (2011). Tales of the field: On writing ethnography (2nd ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Wolf, M. (1992). A thrice told tale: Feminism, postmodernism and ethnographic responsibility. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


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