How to write well: solving problems of expression

By James Hayton,
November 20, 2018
James Hayton is a former physicist, PhD coach and author of "PhD: An uncommon guide"
Since 2010, he's coached hundreds of individual PhD students and now offers
group support and online courses

Writing is about solving problems of expression.The difficulty of the problem depends upon the difficulty of the idea you want to express. Some thoughts are easy to put into words; the ideas you know well, have confidence in and have explained before. Other ideas take much more work, maybe because the thought isn’t fully clear to you, or because it is a subtle point or requires deep insight. These take much more thought, effort and time.

If you only write fast, then you will only be able to write about the things that come easily to mind, and you will never be able to reach those deeper insights, nor be able to express those difficult concepts adequately. It you only write fast, then you are denying yourself the opportunity to solve those more difficult (and often important) problems of expression.A lot of writers get frustrated if they can't maintain the same pace, but in order to write well - and to cover the full range of difficulty - you must allow your pace to vary with the difficulty of the ideas you are trying to express at any given time. See also:
How to find your writing flow
How to overcome writer's block

Join the discussion...

Join James Hayton's PhD discussion and support group on Facebook to discuss this post and connect with other students

Stay up to date...

The PhD Academy:
Online training and support for PhD students

learn more...

For more detailed guidance and support...

The PhD Academy All-Access Pass

Weekly calls with James

You don't have to do it all alone! Get the All Access Pass for weekly group calls and Q&A sessions with James

Every online course

Build your skills and confidence with our detailed video courses. Go at your own pace and get advice and support when you need it

Get the book!
PhD: an uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life

order now on amazon