Of late, I’ve been writing a lot. These have been of the erudite sort, research papers and such. Hence, my predisposition to thinking about the process and how my toolbox of writing “utensils” has grown over the years.
A few years ago I read a book about writing that changed my approach to putting words on a page. The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White, opened my eyes to how BAD my writing skills were (not hitting greatness yet either).
To keep my ego in check, I’ll just say that I’m a lot better at seeing the errors I make. I can see where I make mistakes and know how to improve poorly written sentences, etc. As important, I know how to help other people with their writing, because of the tips and tricks that Strunk & White in their awesome wisdom have imparted on me.
Of course, as an academic, the things I write are (for the most part) very technical and, to the layman, boring. That is because we write to convey information in its purest form. I can be creative only in that I don’t sacrifice objective communication. No fancy prose. For example, I can’t say this:
“After spinal cord injury, neurons met a spectacular end, never to regrow again–that is, until we came along.”
I’d lose my job if I wrote stuff like that. Instead, I have to resort to mediocre stuff like: “We observed neuronal death following spinal cord injury.”
Yes, science is predicated upon good, wholesome facts from-me-to-you writing styles. I guess this is where this blog post comes into play. I have the freedom to write whatever about my work (or my life and opinions) without the editorial axe murderer chopping my head off for prose-y things.
Anyway, writing should be fun, refreshing, a place of security and vulnerability at the same time; and for many of us who like to do it a lot; somewhat painful in a very, very good way.
Writing sounds a bit like love.
- Neuropathic Pain and Memory (neurovantage.wordpress.com)
- Strunk and White (writerswritedaily.wordpress.com)