How to cultivate a love for writing: An interview with Dr. Ronald Wendner

A year ago, a participant in one of my scientific writing workshops posed an interesting question. She asked, “How do I get addicted to writing?” That question left me dumbfounded. My relationship with scientific writing has more been a heroic battle with myself than an addiction. I became interested in this topic precisely because I was having a hard time writing my papers. Would it be possible to enjoy writing scientific papers so much that you couldn’t get enough of it?

Since that workshop, the question has lingered in my mind. I, too, would love to be addicted to writing. So when I received an e-mail from Dr. Ronald Wendner saying that scientific writing was one of his favorite activities, I felt I had found the five-legged sheep and made it my mission to squeeze the secret of this passion out of him.

Ronald was kind enough to let me interview him. And as with the best experiences we have, what he shared with me about his love for writing was nothing like I expected. We talked about the poem and the picture below, Ronald’s writing process, the conditions that enable him to get into flow, tools to write better, and the biggest misconceptions that young scientists have about writing. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!

To listen to the interview, click on the Play button
This picture is the photography of a poem and of Ronald in 1988 as he was writing this poem. The poem is entitled "Sometimes" and goes:
"Sometimes, I am just sitting here,
watching all the people passing by,
all those masks, trying not to show any emotions,
all those happy and lonely faces,
all those rich and poor,
those blacks and whites, artists and "good citizens",
trampers and drunkards,
and all those who need someone;
sometimes, I'm going into dark taverns
to hear good jazz.
Sometimes I have drinking sessions with good friends,
sometimes a girl is undressing for me,
sometimes I am writing poems,
sometimes wanderlust pains me,
sometimes I could start a revolution,
sometimes I am lonely,
sometimes I am lost in thoughts,
being in look for the girl of my dreams
Ronald in 1988 as he was writing his poem “Sometimes”

Who is Ronald Wendner?

Dr. Ronald Wendner is an associate professor of Economics at the University of Graz, Austria.  In addition to his academic career in Austria, he also worked for several years at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Stanford University, and Harvard University. He has published in many leading international economics journals and serves on the editorial boards of several top economics journals.

The little yellow notebook that Ronald received from his friend, which has since inspired his vocation as a writer.

Ronald’s resources for sharpening your writing skills

Cochrane, J.H., (2005). Writing Tips for Ph.D. Students.

Choi, K., (2002). How to publish in top Journals.

McCloskey, D.N., (2000). Economical Writing, Prospect Heights. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Gopen, G.D., & Swan, J. A., (1990). The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist, 78, 550-558. 

Soerensen, C., (2002). This is Not an Article – Just Some Thoughts on How to Write One.

Strunk, W., & White, E.B., (2000). The Elements of Style. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon.

Thomson, W., (1999). The Young Person’s Guide to Writing Economic Theory. Journal of Economic Literature, 37, 157-183.

Varian, H., (1997). How to build an economic model in your spare time.

Vermeulen, F., (2018). Getting your Work Published. (it’s the video of a lecture given by Vermeulen)

How to write your introduction + template

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Writing a good introduction is essential to getting your paper published in a top journal and captivating your readers. It’s essential… and challenging! With this template for writing your introduction, you will find:

  • Pre-writing instructions
  • Writing instructions
  • Explanations on how to use the template
  • A checklist to make sure you have included all the important elements for your introduction.
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