Various Lies

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sometimes you got it...and sometimes you really, really don't

I pride myself on being somewhat of a wordsmith. I do a lot of editing and writing, both scientific and technical and non-sci/tech (2pts). Sometimes, when blogging, it's easy to get lazy and just spew out a train of thought (2pts), and I often regret those posts. I rarely re-edit once I've posted something though; I prefer to get my thoughts out when I can in a medium such as this.

I used to write a lot for an e-Zine,and although still nominally on their staff I haven't submitted anything for over a year. I did a bit of editing, but finishing my postdoc and changing jobs removed a lot of the ire that fueled my creative juices (2pts). And now a lot of my job is writing and editing so I get a little less joy from just writing for the hell of it (proper, crafted pieces, as opposed to a 500 word blog post).

Over at The Hermitage recently, our heroine, The D-List Monktress was bemoaning having to write, and at VWXYNot, Cath posted something about the writing process that was apposite to your hermitage's woes (although I can't find it now). Cath's post was of something her PhD advisor gave her to help her with the writing process, with the block that can from having too many ideas in your head to get them out, that your perfectionist nature makes you want to get it write (boom boom!) first time. The gist of the piece was the best advice a writer ever gets:

JUST FUCKING WRITE IT



It will never come out perfect first time, so just get the ideas out and edit, edit, edit, edit. And it is this self-editing that I think is a key to the process of becoming a better writer.

However, one must first get the thoughts out, so here in its unabridged glory, is the abstract I wrote yesterday when I was braindead after a 2 hour meeting planning a clinical trial grant resubmission I'll be working on. Time to edit methinks...

"Most experimental science generates vast amounts of data, and analysis needs are often unmet. Behavioral neuroscience is no exception to this, and we find ourselves at the brink of a precipice, to fall into which will be to admit the loss of serendipitous discovery because we are overwhelmed by the mountain of data on the other side of this awful mixed metaphor. blah blah science and shit This is clearly totally awesome and will help overworked scientists to find some really cool and likely groundbreaking new shit. Fuck yeah."

7 comments:

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Love it! I've written a few things that look like that myself over the years. It's still easier to edit even this kind of first draft than to write from scratch, sometimes!

BTW this is the link you were looking for. Possible explanation for lastminutitis also included :)

Anonymous said...

Surely nobody who writes this well also writes that badly?

-antipodean

tideliar said...

@Cath: That's the chap! Cheers. There is much wisdom in that thar link...

@Antipodean: Tis a gift, to be sure...

Dr.Girlfriend said...

For me writing is a lot like carving a statue.

First I generate pages and pages of information. Then begins the process of removing all the crap, and shaping what is left. Editing is like polishing it at the end.

P.s I am about to leave the bench and try to break into a career in science journalism/communication.

Dr Becca, PhD said...

I would fund that grant, exactly as it is!!!

I write painstakingly slowly, but need almost no editing when I'm finished. Kind of the opposite of Dr GF--I guess I'm the painter to her sculptor? Slow, carefully placed brushstrokes, an accent here, a shadow there. Etc.

tideliar said...

I Dr GF, and hey Dr. Becca! Thanks for stopping by,

Comparing all y'alls styles I think I'm more like Dr. GF. I used to write like Becca, and that's the way my PhD Mentor tired to train me. He wrote/writes *SO FUCKING SLOWLY*, but it is perfect and rarely needs any editing. I remember my first grant application in his lab, he sat me down in his office and we went through my writing line-by-line. It took WEEKS.

tideliar said...

Oh yeah, Dr. GF, good luck! I'll be following your adventures on your blog I hope! It's hard going getting the break, so be prepared for some knock-backs. A friend of mine just got her break, but it took a year and changing country to finally get a permanent job.

Email me if you wanna chat off-blog about it.