From time to time, I am asked by the Doctoral College at Bournemouth to run various sessions on academic writing. I am not really sure why except I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, and I don’t find it easy. One of the things I always trot out in these sessions is the important of practice, you can’t get better at something unless you practice. Although it seems hackneyed advice it is true – practice makes perfect! I then get asked; well how do I practice and who will give me feedback?
My answer is to encourage students to start their own blog. A post of a few hundred words is just the right length to allow you to form a coherent stream of ideas, but not to long so it needs more than one sitting to write. And there are so many blogs out there it is unlikely to get read, so why be afraid? In terms of getting feedback, well my answer is the best critic is yourself; write something and come back to it a few weeks, or months later and read it again. Could you have made it clearer? How else could you have approached the piece?
One of the reasons for starting the Professor Sandcastle blog was to give me the opportunity to practice my trade and also post things for my students more easily than on the official Bournemouth learning environment. I was quite good at posting stuff to start with, or more precisely re-posting stuff, but I have let that lapse in the last year.
It is hard to find the time to practice, I have let my Welsh slide as well. [As a dyslexic learning a second language is not easy and Welsh is hard!] I have not painted in a while either, not since last summer in fact when I exhibited in Betws-y-Coed. In my defense I have been busy, last September we published two big stories – the oldest human footprints in the Americas, and the oldest parietal art from Tibet. Lots of media appearances, popular stories and the like, including a TV documentary for (Nova) PBS America broadcast in April. I was back in the field in January and April of this year – the Covid layoff was finally over. I have also been teaching a lot, but you know what? This all sounds like a lot of excuses to me.
Practice matters and all types of writing needs work. And my art should not be neglected either, after all it is vaguely part of my long-term retirement plan. As is learning Welsh! If you stop investing in yourself, you stop growing and that is probably why this summer I feel a bit jaded and stagnant. So, when the renewal for the blog site came up this month, I thought to myself. You should catch up with those posts, you should invest more time in your own practice and share more of the downright silly and wacky thoughts that assail my mind every day! So, a new term is approaching, so here is my resolution, blog and share more!