Writing for fun
If you want to be a better writer you need to write.
Writing is writing. Ok, Instagram posts don’t count. Although I realize writing encompasses types, categories, subcategories, genres, etc. each involves putting words on a page in a clear and comprehensible order. If you want to be a writer you need to write, simple as that. If you’re an academic scientist, the ability to communicate your work in an exciting but concise way is critical to your success. However, if you’re like me, you might have gaps between a manuscript and a grant where you’re not writing. Hence, writing for fun. For me, writing for fun is a goal, not a process. I guess for some people, I’m not one of them, the words flow out with ease and they write huge chunks of text in a few minutes. I’m more of a grinder. Every word ekes out slowly, like watching my dog poop when he hasn’t been drinking enough water. My hope is that if I write every day, I’ll get a little more flow and a little less grind. Also, I’ve found a lot of surprising parallels between writing for fiction or marketing, for example, and academic writing. I’m the analytic, learn about it before you do it type, so I’ve read a lot about writing. In marketing, for example, you want to make sure your message is clear or your potential buyer will get confused and go somewhere else. The same applies to writing grants and manuscripts. If your grant is confusing, your reviewer will say “no” and your grant will hit the triage pile. In fiction, unless you are a highly skilled writer, you want one protagonist. In writing grants, you want one protagonist, the one solution that you hypothesize will save the world from a dastardly disease.
So, now that I’ve got you thinking that writing every day might be a good thing, what should you write? Well, whatever you want. Does journaling count? No. Journaling is great for self-discovery and might be a good way to get the writing juices flowing. However, I suggest that you write for public consumption. Writing for public consumption takes it up a notch. You have to think about what you’re writing, because you’re writing for another reader besides yourself. No need to torture yourself, though. Write about things that you’re interested in, ideally outside the bounds of science. Nothing wrong with science, of course, but expanding your horizons keeps you from getting stuck in the dreaded science rut.
Now we come full circle, as I introduce you to my practice of writing for fun. If it ever actually gets fun I’ll let you know. Hope to see you there.