New Semester, New Writing Approach


Long time no chat, readers!

The summer has been a whirlwind for me (writing, programming, reading, and moving has fully consumed my last few months, not including traveling for AEJMC and appearing on CNN).

For whatever reason, this summer has been “The Summer of Unfinished Drafts.” I’ve had more unfinished ideas and drafts than I’ve ever had before. The ideas keep popping up and landing on top of one another (an experience that is simultaneously exciting and anxiety-inducing). I’ve had a couple drafts on the docket, but for various reason, I haven’t been able to post them to my blog. Sometimes I start an outline, but never complete it. In other instances, I tell myself I need to proof it again (and again and again and again), resulting it me never publishing it.

At the same time, I think my publication aspirations (I recently had my first single-authored piece accepted to Political Communication) and academic writing trajectory has paralyzed some aspects of my writing. In an attempt to be so polished all. the. time., I have lost a bit of my "natural voice”—my signature informality.

This became all the more evident while reading Gretchen McCulloch’s* Because Internet (a book I highly recommend). In it, she talks about how spellcheck and grammarcheck operates as a “linguistic authority” (p. 45), reinforcing archaic rules. She (admirably so) is upfront about her stylistic choices: when to adopt accepted 21st century norms (e.g., “lol” vs “LOL”) and when to bend to the norms of standard American English writing.

This matters a lot for me and this blog, because I realize the desire to write “really clean blog posts” is hindering my willingness to share new ideas and thoughts on this blog. I want this to be a place for me to be more free-flowing, and not be hindered by where my ggplot2 title should be 10 pixels to the right (or whether I have one typo in my post).

For this reason, my subsequent posts this semester will have fairly minimal editing (if any at all). This choice reflects the kind of work I am posting here—fresh, fairly raw, but also liberated from the rigidity of many other writing genres/registers that I use (e.g., AP style news writing, academic writing). Should you want to read my more formal writing, I encourage you to check out my CJR piece, and upcoming publications.

I hope you’re excited to take this writing journey with me! For those starting semesters on campuses across the world: Happy Fall 2019! (And happy continuing quarters for those on the quarter-system.)


* In her book, Mulloch points out that her name is often marked as erroneous for the more common “McCullough.” Funnily enough, this happened while I was written her name for this blog post (see screenshot below).