How a Political Science Professor Writes

Quick Facts

Favorite music to write to?

Beethoven cello music

Favorite place to write?

Dining room

What’s a word you always misspell?



Susan Liebell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Pre-Law Advisor


SJU Writes: What is your favorite aspect of the writing process, if you have one?

SL: I love finding things. I work with a lot of really old books. I might be reading about some really obscure legal textbook from 1801, and all I need to do is go to this archive and it comes up as the book. You can see the book, and you can turn its pages. I find that to be super fun and really impressive.

SJU Writes: When you are confronted with a writing task how do you approach it?

SL: I like paper, and I like really good pens. I have a little Thomas Jefferson writing desk which looks like a wood laptop. I try to clear a space, and I try to draw. I draw diagrams, so I’ll make circles, and I’ll draw an arrow. I’ll try to conceptually map it first–but on paper–and then move from there.

SJU Writes: Do you seek advice as you write?

SL: Yes. I have a writing group on this campus. I find it really helpful for them to say, “I have no idea what this is. Please explain it to me.” I also give it to my oldest son who was an English major that graduated from Rutgers, and he has proven to be really good at saying things like “I think this is a terrible sentence.” He’s actually a pretty good editor. I try to share. It’s hard, because it’s raw and you don’t want to be embarrassed.

SJU Writes: What is your revision process like?

SL: It’s too extensive. I revise and revise and revise. If there’s a problem in my writing, it’s that. I wait for it to be perfect before I send it to a journal when I should send it a little earlier, so I end up wordsmithing each sentence.

—Carly Calhoun ’21