Ok. I often feel a little silly evoking Seinfeld as a model for work. He's just a comedian, right? You might not have even liked his show. Yet I got a lot out of one very simple Jerry Seinfeld technique, the chain where you work consecutive days on your scholarly productivity. You just take a calendar and put a red x on every day that you work and you try not to break the chain. This is surprisingly effective, because even a relatively short chain, like 10 days, say, can get you really far. I worked once like this from August to December and wrote a whole lot of the book for which I am best known. I kept the calendar too so I could show people.
It seems sad that a scholar would not be as devoted to his or her work as a sushi chef or a fucking comedian. That was my point about beginning the concluding paragraph of your paper with "In conclusion..." It just seems lazy, unthought-out. Really? like you're ending your paper by signaling to your readers in an unsubtle way that you are ending, when they can see for themselves that it is the last paragraph. That's the idea of my "signposting without signposting." You should have the skill to craft a paper that coheres, that the reader can follow, without putting up really obvious markers of where you're "at" at every moment: "Having discussed the first four points of my argument, we shall now turn to point five." Jeez Louise, you don't have to write like that.
Being a poet helps, because there is no point too trivial in a poem. Punctuation? Consider the difference between "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep" and "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Those are two completely different lines. The serial comma just ruins that line. I published an article and the copy editor wanted me to change the title from "Was Lorca a Poetic Thinker?" to "Was García Lorca a Poetic Thinker?" What a horrific change that would have been, besmirching my cv for the rest of my life. Why? The title is a very direct question and the extra syllables clog it up. Plus, nobody says "García Lorca." That would mark me as an outsider to my own specialty, like calling Leonardo "Da Vinci."
It's not a question of being pedantic or anal-retentive. Ok, maybe I am both but that's not the point. No detail is too small.