Thoughts on The Elements of Style (but not really)

So when I saw The Elements of Style on the list of most popular writing books, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to have anything in it about research since it’s more of a reference book about punctuation and grammar but I decided to be a completist and include it in my study anyway. I was right that there wasn’t really anything about research, but I’m glad I read it mostly because almost every other book on this list either makes mention of it or actively recommends it.

When it comes to books about grammar and punctuation, I’m more of an Eats, Shoots and Leaves person than a Strunk & White person (as The Elements of Style seems to be more commonly known), so some of my thoughts on The Elements of Style are mixed up with more general thoughts about this topic and ES&L specifically.

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A whole lot of “no duh”: The role of curiosity in creativity

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

So lately I’ve been reading about the role of curiosity in creativity. While most of what I’m finding relates to things like creative problem solving, there does seem to be some general consensus that curiosity is positively associated with creativity. Meaning if you’re a creative person, chances are you’re also a curious person.

Which to a lot of people probably sounds like a whole lot of “no duh” but I think this is a really important clue when it comes to thinking about the role of research in creative writing. A clue we have to rely on because there are so few systematic investigations into the creative process, which leaves us with only writers’ self-reports for knowledge about what they do and how they do it. As we’ve seen, there tends to be very little information in those self-reports about the research that goes into a creative work.

In other words, it’s easy to guess that research plays a role in the creative process but there’s not a lot of proof. Connecting the dots between curiosity, creativity, and information-seeking doesn’t get us that proof but it does help make a case.

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10 Books Project: Thoughts on Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway (with Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Ned Stuckey-French) was number six on the list of Goodreads’ popular creative writing books.

Because Writing Fiction is more of a textbook by nature (see below), it has more editions than other books on this list. For this project, I was able to get a hold of the eighth edition, which is not the most recent one. I make note of it only because there might be some content differences between the various editions that I’m unaware of since I only read the one. If you’re familiar with the book and you do spot some differences, I’d be interested to hear about them.

Below are some more detailed thoughts.

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Creative research: Resisting the urge to be prescriptive

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

There isn’t a lot of research out there that investigates the information-seeking habits of writers and other artists but there’s something peculiar about the literature I am finding, especially the stuff that comes from the library and information science field. In a lot of cases, it seems like researchers who are interested in understanding how creative people do research are less interested in the role that research plays in the creative process than they are about the role the library plays in the creative process. Basically, there’s an assumption that the library is a necessary or appropriate component of this type of research. Or if it’s not, that it should be.

Respectfully, I disagree. I say this as a librarian.

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ACRL Questions: Talking to faculty about the contextual nature of research

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

This is a new post in an ongoing series where I’m answering questions that came up during my ACRL presentation “Research is Not a Basic Skill.” Previous posts discussed student proficiency versus student confidence, models for teaching the contextual nature of research, why we’re talking in terms of “research” instead of “information literacy,” and the relationship between some of these ideas and critical information literacy.

Today I’m going to spend some time on talking to faculty about the contextual nature of research.

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