I lead a rather schizophrenic writing life because I write both creatively and academically. That’s not to suggest that academic writing isn’t creative; it’s just that the standard term for writing of poetry, fiction, memoir, etc. is “creative” as opposed to writing for academic and research purposes.
I approach these writing types differently. With poetry or fiction, I begin with free floating and let my writing emerge on the page without editorial intervention. Sometimes, I have a vague idea of what I want to write, but not always. I do no research before I start. I just write.
With academic writing, I start with an idea and I research and read before I put pen to paper. With original research articles, I also construct a valid research process to gather data before I can even consider actually writing. At the pen-to-paper stage, however, I do free float to write about my subject matter and just get words on the page. Once I have those, I shape them, identify gaps, circle around the research/writing process a few more times, and finally write a draft.
One of the hardest things for academic writers is to shut down the interior critical editor. The advantage of having written poetry and fiction is that it’s not possible to do that without free floating and shutting down that pesky editor. Editing is definitely needed—many times over—but the free-floating stage is about making discoveries and opening up, not editing as you go along.
I’ve just been given the privilege of facilitating a faculty learning community at my university. The goal is to write a journal article in twelve weeks, using a book by Wendy Laura Belcher as a framework. Fourteen of us round will commit to this process. By the end, we should have fourteen articles or book chapters. While they will still need to be submitted for publication, they will be written. The Belcher framework and group support will help to make it happen. Stay tuned.