How an Economics Professor Writes

Quick Facts

Pen or pencil?

Apple pencil

Favorite punctuation mark?

Oxford comma

Favorite phrase?

Policy implication


Laura Crispin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor


SJU Writes: What role does writing play in your life?

LC: Formally, it’s very much through the classes that I teach and the research that I publish. I do teach at least two different writing intensive classes. Research Methods is the one that I teach most frequently, but I used to teach labor economics. Teaching students how to write for economic discipline is very different than any of the writing that they have ever done. Professionally, I am working on at least three different research projects right now and all of them are in the drafting process.

SJU Writes: Is there something you’re working on now that you’re really excited about?

LC: I am working on a project about art museums, where I am studying who is attending museums and how frequently, with a focus on K-12 students.  Another project I am working on is about high school sports. I am looking at whether or not sports can reduce the chance of being bullied, and I have a couple projects related to that.

SJU Writes: What advice do you have for students learning to write as an economist?

LC: Mostly, get to the point. Tell us something important and what you’re contributing to that greater literature. I also think students have a really hard time talking about empirical findings. A lot of students are really great at getting results and doing the analysis, but when it comes to actually writing about their analysis, there is a disconnect. It’s challenging, but the more students do it, the better they’ll get at it.

—Cara Smith ’21

How an English Professor Writes

Quick Facts

Pen, or pencil?


Favorite word?


Favorite music to write to?

I use the Coffivity app.


Owen Gilman
Professor of English


SJU Writes: How would you describe your writing process?

OG: My pattern as a writer is to compose here, in this office. I print everything I write. I read it. I make phrasing changes almost constantly. But, those are the only changes. I hardly ever move anything around. I’ll change the phrasing, make it clearer. Maybe take something out that is kinda stupid. No big chunks moving around. But my latest book, The Hell of War Comes Home, took quite a lot of shifting around.

SJU Writes: What is your favorite aspect of the writing process?

OG: I liked the feel of it, composing. Out of all the courses I ever had, the most valuable course I ever had was typing in high school, which was an elective. Boy, that made a world of difference! I actually inherited a typewriter that my favorite uncle brought back from France. I started writing on that all through college. And I liked it since my handwriting is horrible.  Seeing the clarity of a typed work and hearing keys striking, there was a rhythm. There was something that was very seductive, and I actually became enchanted with the writing process.

SJU Writes: What writing advice do you have for students?

OG: Write fresh, with energy. Use all of the freedom that you need. Don’t write simply how an English teacher tells you to write. Don’t follow every move they suggest. People don’t take to that kind of intense micromanagement from teachers well. Students find freedom in my classes here because it’s all on them. I’m not telling them every move, or exactly what turn to make. They have to figure that out for themselves. But most of them want that freedom because it gives them the chance to use their own voice and produce something that doesn’t sound like everybody else.

—Tom Trullinger ’21

How An Athletic Communications Director Writes

Quick Facts

Favorite word?

Favorite place to write?
At my desk in my apartment

What is a word you always misspell?



Nicole Philpot
Assistant Director – Athletic Communications


SJU Writes:  What kind of writing do you do now: academic papers, creative writing, diary, blogs, tweets, social media postings, etc?

NP: A big portion of the writing I do is game recaps and game previews. So, telling the story, in a sense, of what happened in a specific meet. And it’s always different. That’s what I like about it. It’s always interesting to tell a story in a different way, whether someone is achieving a personal milestone or a historical milestone.

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

NP: I think that in terms of my job right now, it’s figuring out the story and telling it well. I think I’ve always been strong in writing, and I’ve always loved writing ever since I was little. I thought that I wanted to be an English teacher, and then I decided against it.

SJU Writes:  What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written in your life?

NP: I’m going to have to go back to my thesis for this one. I took a class with Fr. Tom Brennan—he was actually my thesis advisor—which was super challenging, but I always got the best out of it. I always left my sessions with him thinking like, did I just go through a therapist session or something because it went so deep.

SJU Writes: Tell me one thing about your revision process.

NP: I am someone who will write everything out, mistakes included, and just get words down. And then I will go back and take on the chunks paragraph by paragraph. Editing and grammar—all that is at the end. My most important thing is getting all the ideas down. I just like bang-it-out in a sense. But I go idea first, content first, and then worry about all the other stuff.

—George Steinhoff ’21

How A Philosophy Professor Writes

Quick Facts

Pen or Pencil?
Pen, preferably one with a fun color (especially metallics)

Favorite place to write?
Home, at the table next to my guinea pigs

Favorite word?



Ginger Hoffman, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy

SJU Writes:  Are there people you try to emulate as you write?

GH: Not necessarily. I often think about how Nozick used the phrase “superduper neuropsychologists” and got away with it, and wonder if I could do something like that. That’s one of the most famous writings, and “superduper” is in there. I try to stick in some fun phrases, but you want it to be professional and scholarly.

SJU Writes: Do you have any specific advice for writing in philosophy?

GH: Make sure you know the contours of your argument first, and then write it, maybe revise it immediately, but at some point revise it after you haven’t been working on it. So revise a ton, and at least between some of those revisions, have a day.

SJU Writes: So it’s really just a matter of taking the time and letting it mull in your brain while not actively working on it?

GH: I would say letting it not mull in your brain, so that when you approach it again, it’s approaching it anew. So then you say, “Oh, wait, I thought this followed from this, but now I don’t see why I was thinking that.” It’s just amazing what you’ll find after you’ve set it aside. When you step away from it for a day, two days, it’s not in your mind anymore, so then you can see where the gaps are.

SJU Writes: Do you enjoy revising?

GH: It comes with a lot of anxiety. I want what I produce to be good, and it’s hard work to do that, so it depends. But revising can sometimes be fun, and putting it down is, for me, hardly ever fun. Thinking of the ideas is fun. Getting them on paper for me is very hard. I love the ideas. That’s my very favorite part. But, that’s not yet to the writing.

—Nathan King ’20