Current Interests

My forthcoming book, Habits of the Creative Mind, may seem at first to have little in common with Illness as Narrative. But Illness as Narrative ended with a discussion of pedagogy and questions about how to encourage students to be active, engaged readers who explore alternative perspectives and are inspired by new ideas and open to new experiences. In that ending was a beginning.

Habits of the Creative Mind is a book about writing for students and teachers that I am co-writing with my colleague Richard E. Miller. We expect it to be in print sometime in 2015. Unlike most other textbooks about writing, Habits shifts the focus away from rules and formulas and seeks to cultivate in its readers the habits of mind that writers rely on, such as curiosity, creativity, attention, engagement, openness, flexibility, persistence, reflection and self-reflection.

Can such habits be taught? Can students learn to be thoughtful, inventive, and interesting writers of reflective, exploratory, and argumentative essays? Given my experience in the classroom, I believe the answer is “yes.”

Composing a textbook that will foster curious and creative writers required that the book be unlike any textbook we’d ever seen. Over the past two years, Habits has become a collection of over forty short essays about the habits of mind that are at the foundation of our own acts of curious and creative reading, writing, and problem-solving. We’ve toiled over these essays so that they both teach and provide examples of writing that rewards reading and rereading. Each chapter puts our own habits of mind on display while also inviting students to practice paying attention, asking questions, facing the unknown, doing research, taking intellectual risks, listening, reflecting, and writing again and again.

There are no formulas, rules, or templates. Just practice and more practice.


What’s next? I’m eager to explore the implications of Habits of the Creative Mind  for the health humanities. More on that once Habits of the Creative Mind is in print.