Carolyn Samuel

Academic Associate, Teaching and Learning Services

Q: What process do you go through when writing an academic paper?

A: “Think long. Write quickly.” (Badenhorst, 2007)

I don’t like to sit down to a blank page or screen. It’s daunting. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write before I actually start writing. I do much of my “thinking for writing” when I’m walking to and from work, or when I’m working out on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. (Research has shown the positive effects of walking on creative inspiration.) These activities typically take up at least two hours of my day, so I feel I can advance my writing even when I’m not actually writing.

After thinking “long,” I start writing. I either begin by typing the roughest of outlines, or if I’m inspired by particular thoughts, I draft less-than-cohesive paragraphs to be revised later on. I stop writing at a point where the ideas are still flowing and I have more to say. That way, I feel motivated to return to my writing sooner rather than later. And if my ideas begin to ebb, I know it’s time for a walk.

Photo credit: Owen Egan


Badenhorst, C. (2007). Research writing: Breaking the barriers. Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik Publishers.

Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142–1152. Source. 

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