Science writing, plus puppies
Jun09

Science writing, plus puppies

Okey dokey, so last week I talked about some of the stuff I've been doing to try to break into science writing. But before we go along on our happy little merry way and talk about how you can get into it, I think a quick reality check is in order. It's pretty hard to be a science writer right now. Newspapers are seriously struggling, which means they're laying off writers of all types like gangbusters. Magazines aren't having an easy time of it either. This basically means that there are A LOT more people competing for the shrinking number of jobs. Hell, there are even people that used to have writing jobs that are now competing for internships. So keep this in mind as you read along. Although honestly, traditional chemistry career paths are looking pretty shady right now, too. I have some chem friends telling me about the ungodly huge numbers of people who apply for a single industry job. The job market is complete crap! All right, enough of that. Look, a puppy! So. Still want to try science writing? Here are a few tips to get started: 1. READ. Read every kind of science writing you can get yer mitts on. Good. Bad. Ugly. (A few of my personal favs: Amy Harmon, Carl Zimmer, Rebecca Skloot, and Ed Yong.) Read books on science writing, like The Best American Science Writing, or The New York Times Reader: Science. (Conflict of interest statement: that last one is the book I research-assisted on with my science writing prof.  She doesn't get royalties on it tho, and it *is* a really good book.)  Read about science writing, like at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker or  Columbia Journalism Review's Observatory. Read blogs. The aptly named ScienceBlogs or Nature's blog network are good places to start, since they have a lot of different people blogging in the same spot. 2. WRITE. And I don't mean writing research results up for JACS. Technical writing is uber uber different from science writing. (The latter is quite fun, IMO. The former makes me want to scoop out my eyeballs with some kind of rusty dining implement.) Your school probably has a newspaper--go write for them! Most of them are easy to break into, all it usually takes is a conversation with an editor to get going. 3. BLOG. Ah blogging. It's so free! And you can write whatever you want! So start one. Write about cool papers you find. And after a bit, you can apply to the Research Blogging list. Also, if you don't already have one, get a twitter account and tweet...

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