Improving as a science writer

02Jan10

With the onset of a new decade, many people’s minds have naturally wandered back to ten years ago and just how much can change in such a relatively short space of time.

Back at the turn of the millenium I hadn’t a clue that there was anything in science outside of the lab bench, yet alone had an inkling that I would one day be working in that sphere. I’d enjoyed a History of Science module at undergraduate level and had a hunch that people were doing something like it somewhere — somebody had to be writing those non-academic paper pages in Nature. Nevertheless, none of my undergraduate tutors had a clue how I would get into it. ‘Do a PhD’ they said. Fat chance.

I’ve been in science writing, or science communication, for over five years now having stumbled rather than launched myself into it. In a way, I envy those that are entering the field now. The opportunities, the training and the support networks available are extraordinary. But the more people that enter the already burgeoning ‘SciCom’ field, the more those of us who are in it have to step up our game to keep up.

I once read that a wise man realises he knows nothing, or something along those lines. There are many times when I have no idea what a researcher is saying to me, let alone how I am going to explain this in 500 words. And like any writer, I always feel I can improve on my craft.

What keeps me going is the inspiration I get from my peers work. I learn by reading, watching and listening to the extraordinary discoveries being made every day in science and technology, and analysing how my fellow science communicators explain it in a compelling, beautiful narrative.

I hope to highlight some of these works in this blog, as well as the occasional thoughts on events and news that I come across. Today, the internet has more science blogs than you can shake a stick at (if you can shake a stick on the interweb). I’ve often wondered what I could possibly contribute to that. But with this blog, I’ll attempt to get off my arse and find out.

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