In my many travels as a science blogger, I have run across many young scientists who are in the position I was in when I started my blog: unsure, wanting to get writing experience and try something new, but not having any idea how to begin. When I was first starting out, I was lucky enough to get pointed in the direction of Bora Zivkovic, and the rest of that is history. But Bora can't be everywhere (though he is most places!), and the science blogsphere is a much bigger (and possibly more intimidating!) place than it was when I began. And what about people who want to try their hand at writing now? How do they learn how to write for those who aren't scientists, how to make the dry, passive voice into the fascinating and amazing stuff that all scientists feel it to be?
Well, you can start by practicing!
I would like to announce the beginning of my own Scicurious Guest Writing series! If you are a young (or old!) scientist, interested in trying science writing, and wanting to find out how to begin, this is for you! I would like to lend some of my "expertise" (well, at least I've been doing it a while) to helping other scientists work on communicating science via social media. Each month, I will feature a guest writer for one piece on the blog, here at The Scicurious Brain. That writer will work with me prior to the posting of the piece, going through several drafts and producing what may be their first piece of science writing.
If you decide you want to try this, what will you get? You will get experience in writing for the public, with me to help mentor you through it. We'll work on tone, specificity, background, story, etc. When your piece is posted, I'll help you talk it up, and hopefully you'll get to see some great comments on your work, and add a line to your CV! If you really enjoy your experience and decide you want start your own blog, I will also be glad to help you out. I can help you with some minor technical bits, and help you begin to build a network. And of course, I'll tell you to talk yourself up!
What do I get? Well, mostly I get a lot of editing. But I also get the satisfaction of knowing that I'm passing on what I've learned, and that I'm helping other scientists get in to science writing in what will (hopefully) be a positive experience.
So would you like to be a Scicurious Guest Writer? If so, please send me (scicurious [at] gmail [dot] com):
a. your CV (if you're a young student and don't have one yet, now's a great time!)
b. ideas for papers you would like to cover, what you would like to convey about them, and why you find them interesting.
If you are a student or trainee, it would be wise to get the approval of your advisor or lab head, to make sure they know what you're up to. If you would like to post under a pseudonym, I'm open to that as well (obviously), and would be glad to keep your name from publication.
If you're thinking about it, but unsure of what to expect, here are the guidelines that I've developed:
1. Cover 1 paper or one small topic. Not a mini-review or group of papers. This is because...
2. You have 1000 words. 2000 words if you pick a topic rather than a paper. Writing on the internet is often about being concise as well as being clear, and this is good practice.
3. The paper or topic must be agreed upon by both of us. This is my chance to make sure you're not going to be a creationist or something.
4. You have a time limit. As a blogger, I often work on very short turnarounds, and have seen the phrase "well, how about yesterday?" more than once. Since it's your first time, you won't have it QUITE that bad, but I will expect the first draft within two weeks, and a publication ready piece two weeks after the first draft.
5. Keep in mind: I will be choosy. This is my blog, and I get to choose who I would like to work with. I will inform you immediately, however, if I don't think that we can work well together..
I hope this helps, and I hope that some of you will contact me about guest writing! I'd be thrilled to help some writers get on their way!
Tomorrow, Scicurious is proud to announce the first of the Scicurious Guest Bloggers! She's the first guinea pig, and I think she's done a fabulous job. Make sure to check back for her post, and give her some feedback on her work!
UPDATE: Thank you so much for the overwhelming response!!! It's been lovely to see how many people are interested in trying out science writing! I'm glad to help as many as I can, but please be advised that at this time Guest Writers are booked through the spring of 2014. I will put up another post asking for writers at the beginning of 2014 and will be glad to take more people then. Thanks again! I'm so pleased by how many awesome people are out there!