Writing clarity

I am not the clearest of writers. I do not always have a clear aim to my verbal utterances and this is often carried through in my written word. Strangely, this seems to be particularly true for any academic writing I do. I currently have two papers in a review process and reviewers’ comments indicate a lack of clarity in the writing at various points.

When I am writing for a journal article I often find that there’s another voice in my head which wants to make an argument ‘more academic’. I have a point to make in my head and then that other voice stays my hand and seems to say “that’s too ordinary, more sub-clauses please”. Aside from this, much of the constructive feedback I receive about my writing refers to the fact that I am trying to do too much within a sentence or a paragraph. I tend not to structure an argument well. I often find my mind buzzing with linked ideas when I am writing and so I skip over the part where I need to take the reader through some steps before finishing an argument or a point. Keeping the reader in mind needs to be a point of focus as I go on.

This is not good if I want to continue to write (and get published) in an academic context. I have little difficulty writing in contexts like this one or an article for an online news source. When it comes to academic arguments however, I seem to want to ‘make them more academic’ by using overly complex language and reverting to some bug that walked into my ear in the first year of my MA in sociology in 1995. Too much Habermas at an early stage maybe.

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