Friday, August 13, 2010

Writing, revising, and a great resource

I have been absorbing a phenomenal amount of information from WriteOnCon. And I couldn't have done it without the support of Beloved Husband, who came home early to watch the boys so that I could "attend" the conference.(Thank you!)

At one point over the last three days, I realized that the last conference I attended was a scientific conference, and everyone was discussing animals. Ha! What a transition!

And that got me thinking about the differences between writing as a scientist and writing for a more general audience. There are the obvious differences in terms of how the subjects are broached, and the appropriate words one should use in the two formats (jargon, anyone?). But what really strikes me is the different attitudes regarding revision.

Every scientist I know approaches writing with the attitude that if you can get something on paper, you can revise it (i.e., the hard part is getting something down). But I get the sense from the creative writing community that writers consider getting something down the easy part, whereas revisions are a dreaded task. (Perhaps this is because revising requires acknowledging that your creative effort didn't measure up? I'm guessing here, I really don't know.)

I like both the creating and the revising. I know that what I wrote can always be better, and it's like a puzzle trying to figure out just how to say it better (fortunately, I love puzzles) . Sometimes, it literally requires re-ordering sentences or words, as happened with an article I recently wrote. Everything was there, but the order was all wrong... but when you get it right, everything clicks.

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On a related note, there are a couple of great resources for anyone interested in science. Nature Publishing Group has put together two online educational journals. Scitable (which has been out for a while) focuses on genetics. Last week, they launched Nature Education Knowledge, which focuses on ecology.

The articles are written and reviewed by scientists, and they are written at the level of the college undergrad (that's right, ladies and gentlemen... you can actually understand what they say).

The fabulous editor, Sara Tenney, is working hard to increase the number of articles available, so keep checking back. If you need to do some genetics or ecology research for your WIP, you can't go wrong with these journals.

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Which do you prefer: writing or revising? Why?


  1. I prefer writing. That's my playground. Revising often seems like work :)

  2. Hi, Alison. A dear friend of mine writes for kids, but is also an academic (psychology). I'm fascinated when she describes shifting between the two styles of writing and how different they are.

  3. I may not be a scientist, but I enjoy revising more. It's got to be my problem solving mentality: adjusting some humdrum text again and again until it really sparkles (though not necessarily in a vampire sort of way). Even if I get a passage to work fine the first time around, I can always improve upon it. And I love that sense of accomplishment when I do.

  4. Tabitha: I hadn't thought of it that way, but that makes a lot of sense.

    Laura: It is incredibly different (and a huge challenge for me).

    Nate: I'm glad to hear that you like the rewriting, too. Thanks for stopping by!