How to Improve my Writing

I've completed my outline of study for my project in improving my writing.  The best place to start is in a review of my study methods, particularly reading.  For that, Study Methods & Motivation by Ed Locke is where I start.  Then, a general overview of non-fiction writing is in order, so The Art of Nonfiction and The Brief Holt Handbook are next on the agenda.  Lastly, the applied discipline of academic research will be reviewed, where Writing in the Discipline and various academic articles in MIS should complete my study and engender further integrations.

1. Study Methods & Motivation

  • Reread Chapter 3. How to do Abstract Reading, Chapter 4. How to Do Abstract Integrative Reading, and Chapter 5. How to Identify and Designate What is Important
  • Identify a plan of action for improving my reading skills

2.  Brief Holt Handbook

  • Review basic language terminology and rules by skimming chapters 2-14
  • Review my writing over the past few years and identify common grammatical errors I commit
  • Identify a plan of action to avoid these errors in the future
  • Edit all academic articles with lessons learned.

3. The Art of Nonfiction

  • Read every chapter
  • Write up a summary of each chapter
  • Write 1 op ed
  • Write 1 book review
  • Edit all academic articles with lessons learned

4. Brief Holt Handbook, again

  • Chapter 1 and Chapters 36-40
  • Compare with Art of Nonfiction - write a comparison article
  • Write 1 op ed
  • Write 1 book review
  • Edit all academic articles with lessons learned

5.  Writing in the Discipline

  • Read Preparing to Write Research, Developing an Argument, and Writing in the Social Sciences.
  • Compare with Holt and Art of Nonfiction - write a comparison article
  • Edit all academic articles with lessons learned

6. MIS Quarterly and Information Systems Research

  • Review articles published in the past 5 years (particularly Best Paper awards)
  • Identify common formats and styles
  • Write a blog post on these identifications
  • Edit all academic articles with lessons learned
  • Identify a plan of action to continue to improve my writing skills
These six reading assignments and various writing assignments will make for a heavy workload this summer.  With selling our house and moving, I may not be able to complete everything on this list.  But I at least I have something to push myself into being the best writer that I can be.  I should, however, be able to make a large dent into this project over May and June.  July will be mostly consumed with moving.  I may find time in the evenings, if I'm not too tired.  Then, I have have just 2 weeks in August before returning full time to academic requirements.  I would also like to spend some time during the summer learning some advanced web techniques, so occasionally, I may put this project on hold.


  1. I think step 6 will be what you get the most out of. Don't forget the aesthetics of academic writing. It's the only thing that keeps it from being compltely monotonous!

  2. Perhaps, but I have found that not all of my writing issues come from understanding academic articles. Some of my issues are more fundamental. Everything that I have identified above I have done before, but some of them I have not revisited in the past 10 years. Apparently, those skills didn't stick. So I decided to review from the ground up. If I thought all of my value would come from 6, I would do just 6 and skip all the rest.

  3. Sounds like very good goals. Do you primarily write by hand or by typing? If the latter, then I suggest in addition printing out your pieces and editing by hand notes. I've been doing that with my confectionery reviews and find it gives me a much better perspective on my writing, rather than editing piecemeal on the fly in a text editor.

  4. Benpercent,
    I primarily write by typing. And yes, I often do print out my pieces and edit by hand. Great reminder on the value of doing it though. I also set an article to the side for a while and come back to it a week or more later. Often, I see it with a fresh perspective.