Writing is hard

It’s easy to read a really great academic paper, or a book, and get the impression that such a thing springs fully formed from the authors mind, through their fingers, to the keyboard and thence to the link you followed in google scholar.

That’s not what really happens.

It’s easy to forget that a published paper was once half a page of notes scribbled in someone’s notebook which turn into a few bullets in a text editor which then get fleshed out to a few paragraphs. The paragraphs get some basic charts added around them which then necessitates more words.

Then it becomes apparent that a particular point can’t be made without revisiting some of the literature which then has to be writen up. Pass what seems like a half-finished manuscript to a co-author (or supervisor) and what comes back are as many comments and requests for clarification as original words. Responding to those generates as many comments and clarification requests again. And again. Eventually holes stop getting poked in the argument and the round of comments is mostly about points of grammar and typos.

At that point the paper gets sent away for peer review. Reviews come back with more requests for changes and clairifcation. And a long list of typos that no-one had seen until now. All those changes get made and finally, finally, an actual paper has been produced.

The point is that writing is hard. For just about everyone. And that’s ok.


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