Posted 1:19 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022

Dr. Tim Dale writing on his deck in Chaseburg, WI.

Writing in Political Science and Public Administration

The Write Here, Write Now blog invites writers from the University of Wisconsin and La Crosse communities to respond to a series of questions that shed light on their writing lives. As readers of the blog will discover, learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from reflecting on the writing process and sharing that process with others. 

Name and Title: Dr. Tim Dale, Political Science and Public Administration

Department, Speciality Area, and Classes Typically Taught: Political Science and Public Administration. I teach courses in political theory (political philosophy) and American politics

Current Writing Project: I am editing a book on student success strategies aimed at university administrators with contributors from many different colleges from across the country.

1. What are you currently reading?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

2. What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in? 

Scholarly writing related to the connections between popular culture and politics, and occasionally writing about best practices in teaching, learning, and student success.

3. When/where/how do you write? What are your “writing necessities”? 

I write best late at night when everyone else in the world is asleep. I am easily distracted while I am writing, so I need to be fully immersed with very little else happening. I also need the temperature in the room to be cold. I tend to get physically warm while writing (maybe because brain exercise is the only type my body is getting??).

4. What's the best writing advice you've received?

Read your writing out loud to yourself. I often hear mistakes more easily than when I read them.

5. How does your discipline affect your writing style?

I tend to be systematic and formal in my writing style. I write in complex sentences even when I do not need to. In my field we commonly write fitting as much information into sentences and paragraphs as possible.

6. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision? How do you avoid writer’s block?

Accepting that everything I write is a draft always helps me get started. It doesn't matter if I have fully formed ideas, or even fully formed sentences. Just getting something - anything! - down in writing is a great way to start. My tip for writing is to just start typing. Make an outline. Put down some notes. Free flow your stream of consciousness. These are all better uses of time than staring at a blank screen.

7. What do you think students need to know about academic writing? 

Academic writing can be most challenging because you are mixing your own ideas and arguments with sources of expertise. I always start by creating a list of sources and taking notes from these sources. It helps me to organize my own ideas when I have an idea about how others are going to help me make my arguments.