Why I Write…

Many scientists do not like writing. They enjoy doing fieldwork or fiddling around in the lab, but they dreadfully await the day when they have to start writing. I actually enjoy writing. And I try to do it as often as possible (whether it is for my blogs or for a paper). Here are the main reasons why I write.

I just enjoy writing. Plain and simple.

Writing helps me to understand often complex concepts. By writing it out for other people, I am also teaching myself about the subject. In some respect, I am applying the Feynman Technique.

Sharing knowledge with the general public is an important part of being a scientist. However, most scientists rely on journalists to inform the public. Although there are many good science journalists out there, they can make mistakes. You are the expert in your field, so write about it.

Writing also helps me build a scientific network. I often share my blogposts with the authors of the paper I wrote about (by mail or Twitter). It’s a nice way to introduce yourself to the scientific community and get into touch with “the big names”. For example, when I started my new job in Uppsala, someone asked me: “Are you the guy behind the website about bird hybrids?”

The scientific publishing process is glacially slow. It takes some time to write the paper, taking into the account the comments and wishes of your co-authors. Once submitted to a journal, it can take several months before it gets accepted (if it gets accepted). I don’t have the patience to wait for this. That is why I like to write blogposts or short article for the Dutch website Scientias. You write and it quickly appears online. Instant gratification!

By writing a lot, I also improve my writing (at least, I hope so). So, here I can give you some very simple and straightforward advice: if you want to improve your writing, just write…

Why do you write? Or why do you hate writing? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.


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