Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers. The series will be featured every other Wednesday.
This week we hear from University of Louisville Law professor Judith Fischer. Professor Fischer teaches legal writing and women and the law, and her scholarship includes articles on legal writing, advocacy, women and the law, and law school teaching. Her book Pleasing the Court: Writing Ethical and Effective Briefs examines professionalism in legal writing through numerous examples of judges’ reactions to lawyers’ errors.
How I Write: Judith Fischer
Location: Law school
Current project: Article on brief writing
Currently reading: Student papers!
- What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?
For work, I write scholarly writing for books or law review articles and less formal articles for newsletters or bar journals. I also do other miscellaneous kind of writing, such as commenting on student papers and writing emails and letters of recommendation.And of course I also do personal writing, such as emails and thank-you notes in hard copy.
- When/where/how do you write?
For work, I often write during the standard work day, and sometimes I write well into the evening. I write with a computer at a table or desk.
- What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?
Computer—pencils—pens—paper for printing numerous drafts—whatever sources I need for the project. For my last scholarly article, that included a stack of relevant books.
- What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?
To start: Decide when you need to get started and then just start. For example, if I need to have a scholarly article finished by August 15, I know I need to start researching by May and start writing by the end of June. So I do that.For revision: Read the document aloud while imagining an audience. For example, read the document to an imaginary critical colleague.
- What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
The way to write an article is to start by taking off your shoes. Get down underneath your desk and nail your shoes to the floor. Then get back in your chair, put your feet in your shoes, and write.