Are you an academic who wants to write for the public? If so, check out Katie Rose Guest Pryal’s helpful Chronicle of Higher Education piece “You Want to Write for the Public, but About What?” It includes wisdom from historians Kelly Baker, Kevin Kruse, and Sarah Bond.
Here is a taste:
Kelly J. Baker, a former faculty member in religious studies and now editor of the newsletter Women in Higher Education, fields a lot of unsuccessful pitches from academics new to public writing. One of the most common mistakes they make, she said, is a failure to move beyond their scholarship: “Their pitch is too specific to their discipline. They rely on too much jargon or write a pitch that would be a better fit for an academic journal rather than a magazine.” (Baker offers further advice on this in her blog post on writing for nonacademic readers.)
To succeed in public writing, then, you have to take that brave first step beyond the small but safe territory of your scholarly expertise. Use your academic training as a foundation and then do the additional research and reporting necessary to write a journalistic piece. I used current events as the driving force of my freelance writing, and my expertise followed.
Read the entire piece here.
I recently wrote about my own experience with public writing.