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3 P's of Professional Writers--Purpose, Passion, and Pleasure
Thursday, August 16, 2007
As my last blog post noted, in academia, the 3 P's of writing are Persistance, Patience, and Push (i.e., push out, push on, and push back). That is scholarly writing. In professional writing, the 3 P's would likely be totally different. Here are 3 possible P's for Professional Writers:

1. Purpose--unlike many academics who simply write for the sake of having something published on their resume, professional writers typically have a purpose for spending hours, days, weeks, or months penning something. This is not to say that academic scholars do not have a purpose, it is just that they are often involved in a very silly system of promotion and tenure. Purpose might be in seeing a series of writing episodes such as a series of books, papers on a topic, or short stories. Purpose might come from being the only person who has read extensively in a particular area. Purpose might come from knowing you only have so much time to get a writing task done and many people are relying on you to do so since you are the expert. Purpose might come from a growing audience for your work who has read previous articles, books, reports, or blog posts. Gosh, to have a purpose for one's one can make a mark or a dent (i.e., an impact) in society and not just create more paperweights.

2. Passion--of course, if one has a purpose behind his or her writing, then there is a chance that he or she can be more passionate about it. Stephen Downes reminded me in an earlier blog post of mine that writing without passion is probably not something that will be worth reading. As I note above, too often in higher education, we write for the sake of writing. But to be passionate about something is central to actually completing it. We tell our doctoral candidates to find a topic in which they are passionate for their dissertations since they will live and breath the topic for a year or 2 or 3 or more. I think the Web 2.0 opens up many routes for one to be more passionate about writing with colleagues who are genuinely interested in said writing.

3. Pleasure--One must not only have a purpose and passion, but feel some joy or pleasure from the writing event. Life should have pleasures and if one's life is being a professional writer, then pleasure must occur at key moments or nearly all the time. There should be fun moments when one plays with words, when new words are found, when analogies are made, when ideas are shared and new ones are returned, when old notes combine with new thoughts in ways not previously contemplated, when new acronyms or ideas are conjured up, and even when penning a unique or catchy title. Pleasure occurs when writing is thinking as well as when thinking leads to new writing. Reflection on one's idea generation processes should be pleasurable, not always an arduous process.

Who wants to add stories about their writing purposes, passions, and pleasures? You?

These 3 P's might be combined with the other 3 P's of my last post to truly build a writing persona in higher education. And then there are always other P words that are of import such as polish, personalized prose, and peak experiences! Now we are getting somewhere. Can someone be a successful scholarly or academic writer as well as a professional writer? Humm... Of course, the P words come and go as culture and society changes. For instance, P words that no longer apply include penmanship and pencil and paper. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is likely to alter the P words of importance to posting within professional networks, participation, and personalized writing.

Ok, I must P on my way!

(Sidenote: Four years after drafting this blog post (it is now April 2011), and this one remains among my most popular posts.)
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 8:15 PM  
  • At 10:02 PM, Blogger MW (My Wish) said…

    Oh, what should I do? I don't have any of these. I hope it is temporary and that I can find my niche (but didn't I say that before?)

    Happy "P"ing and nicely said here, Curt.

  • At 10:29 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…


    1. Sit in a closet and brainstorm your writing plans.

    2. Take people to dinner or lunch at conferences and talk about this topic and here their stories.

    3. Read a few inspirational books. From time-to-time, I open Jack Canfield's The Success Principles: How to get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (2005). Harper Collins. Buy it used on Amazon perhaps.

    I also like:
    Goldsmith, M., Kaye, B., & Shelton, K. (2000). Learning journeys: Top management experts share hard-earned lessons on becoming mentors and leaders. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

    4. Listen to inspirational or topical audiobooks in an iPod or MP3 player or in your car.

    5. Think long term. Writing successfully will not happen in 1 month or 2. Have at least a 2-3 year plan if not 5 or 10 year.

    6. Send me emails and ask for advice when you want.

    7. Write daily.

    8. Save things you see (i.e., interesting current articles) for potential books and organize them.

    9. Don't "P" like me. Create your own set of P's.

    10. Post some of your ideas and plans and goals in your blog and read the feedback.

    Ok, there are 10 ideas off the top of my head. How is that?

  • At 7:00 AM, Blogger MW (My Wish) said…

    Very good, Curt. I like all of your ideas except for sitting in a closet to think. Ha ha ha ha.

  • At 9:07 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    But the closet idea is the best one! Eventually, you may see it. So you are not a closet writer then...ha. Or maybe your closet is too small there in Taiwan. Bring chocolates and bottles of water when you do try it out.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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