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A.P. Grayson

Don’t write to show what you know, write because you have something to say. And watch Groundhog Day (again).

A groundhog
A groundhog
Groundhog Day. Photo by Doug Brown from Pexels

I’ve spent a career helping undergraduate students with their essays and reports. Here are some of the messages I’ve found to be most helpful to them. They are both derived from, and generative of, useful ways of thinking about any kind of writing.

1. Draft your conclusion first

If you haven’t already decided what it is that you want to say in a piece of writing, then the chances are you’re not ready to start writing it. And if you have decided, why not draft the concluding paragraph immediately? This provides you with a goal. A place to which you know you have to get…

Bodies matter when we are writing. Perhaps Nordic Walking Poles will help.

Hiker looking out over a lake and mountains.
Hiker looking out over a lake and mountains.
Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

Did you know that using Nordic Walking Poles will help you to avoid getting lost? That’s right. Carrying two pieces of inert metal, with no magical AI therein, will enhance your ability to navigate. Let’s take a look at why that is the case, and at how this effect might be relevant to your writing.

Of course, saying ‘did you know’ implies that this thing about walking poles is known. To be honest, that’s not strictly true. But basic theory from neuropsychology tells us that it is thoroughly plausible. I for one would bet a lot on it turning out…

Why does the rhythm of the words we write matter? Let’s take a look at the evidence from developmental psychology.

Photo by Laura Garcia from Pexels

It’s not just in poetry that metre matters. The joy of reading a passage of text is enhanced if the rhythm of the words is pleasing. Indeed, I’m tempted to change ‘metre matters’ to ‘metres matter’, because the pacing of that first sentence is better with the latter. In this piece, I want to look at the developmental origins of the pleasure that we find in the rhythms of phrases. The story will take us back to early childhood. Indeed, it takes us back into the womb!

Motherese and the two-day-old two-step

Adults talk to very young children in a particular way. They raise the…

Cullen Skink from the peerless Ebbcarrs Cafe, St Abbs, Scottish Borders. Photo by AP Grayson.

A tweeolet triolet

A.P. Grayson

Author. Academic. Advocate of fairness. Writer of science fiction and psychology fact.

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