I did a writing workshop for PostGrad students in Applied Communication. Seth in the group posted this(below) to his Blog.
I got all excited when I saw this post – so I sent him an email (reproduces below here in italics in serif).
… and WOW again
thanks for the post
I like the voice of assurance and the ‘wodehousian’ turn of phrase – “A light-hearted approach with a touch of cynicism relaxes the writing process.”
almost like food
Assoc Professor Soumitri Varadarajan gave a workshop a couple of weeks ago to MCD postgrads on writing for publishing within the context of the field of design. Soumitri’s Zero Waste blog. My own notes from the presentation. A key thread underlying his presentation was clarity. Clarity of purpose and delivery. He started with the SeVeRe acronym which translated into:
This seems quite rigid but Soumitri stressed not to take all this writing/publishing business to seriously. A light-hearted approach with a touch of cynicism relaxes the writing process.
“Clarity is only possible if you know the material really well”. Sketch out a structure but be open to change. “It is useful to have a toolkit of different structures for different scenarios” Know the context before you come up with the structure. For example the context of the journal and what previous papers look like. Some publications want essays and discussions for example some design journals. Other publications want a clear argument. Soumitri uses the tool mindnode to map out structures beforehand. “Take the existing structure from a journal and mind map that structure.”This can be down to the paragraph level with a word count also down to this level. He even will often look at balancing the number of paragraphs in each chapter to have an equal average. These paragraphs on average aim at a 300 word count.
Voice. There needs to be a clear goal behind the writing, an aim, an argument. Soumitri spoke of his own critical and opinionated take on issues as an example.
Clarity is achieved by “picking the arguments carefully” and using pace, rhythm to work and develop that argument. A quick energetic start for example that levels off into a steady rhythm that rises and lowers in varying ways throughout. Clarity and substantiation in a tone that is unapologetic. Boldness of purpose and delivery is crucial. “Tell the reader the argument, tell the reader how you will argue it”.
“Commit to a perspective and start.”
“Take shots but sit inside your field”
Soumitri referred to an interest in Foucault and the concept of Heterotopia.
With a social science background he referred to a thick description.
Listening to factual radio is useful in relation to the way radio shows are introduced. These introductions are succinct, clear and tell you what will be discussed and how. All in an interesting way to catch your attention and ear for the duration of the program.
A paper example Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum that demonstrates clarity.