If I’d have read Pat Thomson just over a year ago, this blog may not exist
Pat Thomson is an amazing writer. The way she communicates to students via her blog and her books makes so much sense, and yet it is different from anything else I have read.
Talking to Pat I realised that we are quite similar. We both write because of our attitudes to writing and because of our experiences. There is a certain amount of passion in what we write. However, I think that is probably where the similarity ends. You see Pat loves writing. She is incredibly good at it and this gives her an incredibly unique perspective. When I started writing this blog, I hated writing the literature review. It was such a mental and even physical effort that I started LiteratureReviewHQ to document it and try to help others going through the same hell.
So why wouldn’t the blog exist if I’d have read Pat Thomson’s work? Well as I’ve said before, I started writing here out of desperation. I wanted to share with people how I fought the literature review and won. I wanted to share how I climbed the mountain, escaped the literary quagmire and narrowly avoided drowning in the rough sea of academic articles. If I’d have read Pat’s work before I started, I simply wouldn’t have felt so desperate about writing.
Pat loves writing and this greatly affects her ability to write. She also loves reading the literature and making sense of it. She doesn’t view the literature review as a fight, more of an interesting puzzle to be solved. She conveys this so well, that after reading only the first few chapters of her book, I saw the literature review in a totally different light. It is a cliché I know, but the penny suddenly dropped and I realised what the literature review was really all about. She totally convinced me that the literature review is something that can be and should be enjoyed.
You are a professional writer
Pat also taught me that as academics, we are all professional writers. This was a little counter intuitive to me at first. As a scientist, I spend my time in the lab. Writing is an inconvenience that has to be endured if I want to carry on with my lab work. This is actually a dangerous approach which can hinder your success in academia. Whichever way you look at it, you are judged by your writing. Whether this is your thesis, published papers or teaching material. You do well in academia if you can write well. If you don’t write well, then you’re going to struggle. If the best experiment in the world is not written up and communicated to the academic community then what use is it? This isn’t to say that you have to be a naturally gifted writer to succeed. However, you do have to have writing at the front of your mind in any academic discipline.
Ultimately my own attitude and writing has changed for the better as a result of reading Pat’s work. I’m certainly going to incorporate it into what I teach from now on.
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