The two things you can do to get better at writing
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
I am writing this post after the request of a friend…thanks Sandra for this idea! Many of us think we are not good at writing (yes, imposter syndrome mixed with some reality). You probably do research is STEM (most of my readers do) and at school, you chose subjects such as chemistry, mathematics, biology…we were not supposed to be writers! But here we are, working in science, and having to write A LOT. But there are two things that you can do to be a better writer (and I have a workbook to help you with that):
1) WRITE A LOT
You have heard this before, and you are probably thinking you didn’t need to listen to this … But it’s so true! Writing is a skill and it gets better with practice. So please do the work and write. Even if it is only for 30 min, you will probably write more articles than if you write only in big blocks of time. Some days you may produce beautiful text that you are even impressed with, and some days just crap, and that’s fine. If words about your work don’t come, simply put your thoughts and feelings in a paper. Journaling can promote happiness (we’ll see also more about it later on), and it’s a great way of keeping up with your daily writing goal.
2) READ A LOT
Simple right? As Stephen King said (and he knows what he is speaking about…), “To be a good writer you need to a good reader”. Boom. And how can you be a good reader? First, by being mindful when you read. By reading you get inspired, sometimes unconsciously! But if you pay attention, you learn how to use certain words, expressions, and structures inside a paragraph. And you don’t need to limit yourself to scientific papers…any book, magazine or blog will work! And second, by being a strategic reader: if you need two hours every time you want to read a paper, you probably won’t read much. I have to confess my reading habits were not the best. I could spend weeks, and months without reading a full paper (who does it anyway?), and then when I had to write something I would do binge reading. This is ok, but similar to the win of snack writing over binge writing (or a combo of both), what if the same would happen with “snack reading”?
I already mentioned in this post the importance of scheduling writing and building a habit. What if the next 21 days, you try to allocate some time to read and write, even if you write for only 30 min? And at weekends, just read some fun things and journal your thoughts and feelings. To help you start right now, I have created this workbook with a read-and-write plan, a habit builder table, and some space for you to write expressions or details you like from what you read. If you want some extra accountability, you can even tweet this, and if you tag me, I’ll be sure I follow your progress ;)