Why the violent metaphor? Well it’s just because these are 3 very easy things and so it’s really a crime against yourself if you are not doing them.
And, I’ve put a lot of effort into trying to convince people to do these simple 3 things. But when I check up on them later, it often turns out they are not doing them, even though they are so quick and easy.
So this whole piece here has a finger wagging tone—sorry about that…
So please, for the love of humanity, I am begging you…
But actually that’s not necessary here since everyone who sees these 3 things is instantly convinced of how valuable they are.
The problem is they don’t follow through. They forget how important they are.
Did I mention that they were easy?
So the trick is to get this to sink in so you actually do it, every single time, before you submit anything.
So get in your opening-to-truth-posture, and prepare to absorb something easy that boosts your chances of publication far beyond the small investment involved:
- Read your writing aloud to yourself. As in, so that you can hear the sounds coming out of your mouth and floating in the air of the room. When you have finished the article you plan to hand in, you will hear something you were not aware of before. You will hear SO MUCH MORE than if you just read it off the screen. You’ll learn heaps about what to revise right away and you can get down to it, without doubt or questions. You’ll also hear what’s working and what you like. You’ll be learning with every piece you write. But most of all, you’ll get a huge jumpstart on what you can easily do to improve your work, right away.
You try out my advice just once, and you’ll see what I mean, instantly. Then you’ll kick yourself for all the times you didn’t do this in the past. Why would you ever NOT do this?
Or was the world playing some kind of sick joke on you by not telling you this sooner? But have no fear, at least now you can look forward to greater success. If you stick to the rule: do not submit anything that you have not read out loud to yourself. Ever.
- Have someone else read it aloud to you. This will reveal even more. But even if you don’t have someone on hand, at least you can read it out loud to yourself again. That will be the last resort however. Better than that would be to read it into a recording device and play it back to yourself. Then act on what you hear. Whether it’s a friend you hear, a voice recording, a re-read, or a combination of all of the above, this second stage will really seal the deal. Do this and your publication chances rise.
- Never submit work that has been barely ever physically printed, or never has. Instead, print out your best effort and read it, silently, on the printed page. Chances are you composed the piece mostly on the computer so this is an important shift in perspective. You will easily see little improvements if you get your brain and your eyes out of “laptop screen land” and into the material world, which looks very different.
True, It may be the same world actually, but it is experienced very differently in attention. The thing is, when you look into a screen it’s like you go inside some “world-of-the-article,” and the article surrounds you.
But when you see a printed copy you can more easily stand outside it, above it, and get a new look. It is also easier and more relaxing to pencil in a line and an arrow at some point, and jot a note about a sentence that explains things better or a detail or example to add in here or there, etc.
This physical reading, in a different medium than you wrote in, is just as important a fresh perspective as hearing your writing out loud. So, draw the line here. Don’t submit a paper that has not been printed.
So, draw your line in the sand, in all three ways
Don’t submit a piece you have not read aloud to yourself.
Don’t submit a piece you have not heard read to you.
Don’t submit a piece that has not been printed.
I guarantee you: your chances will rise. [verification issues acknowledged]
This is true because you’ll perceive so much more when you get these different, sensual experiences.
And there is another important reason and it’s that academic writing can get kind of convoluted, awkward, and unmelodious. These are a quick fix.
Making your writing more readable is like bribing your reviewer: you’ve just taken a big chunk of their pain away. It hurts them to read awkward writing. You took that pain away from them, and they are naturally going to return the favor.
What goes around, comes around, right?