Writing challenge, day 3.

It’s day 3 of the writing challenge and the prompt from Sarah is this:

If you could do something that you never have done before, what would it be?  Why would you want to do it?

This feels like a listicle-answer might work well:

1. Something I have never really done before in terms of writing is pitch an idea to an editor of a publication/blog/”real” writing platform xyz. Writer’s that do it professionally say that rejection is a big part of it and it’s just not something I’ve really gone through. Why would I want to do this? Well, it might be nice to have someone else besides myself reject my writing for a change. I self-censor a lot and still take the attitude that I shouldn’t waste people’s time with my mediocre ideas.

I think that that has to stop this year and I just need to try. Maybe I can try submitting a few letters of the editor of a local newspaper, then move up from there as I learn the ins and outs of submitting things to publication venues.

2. I have never written a work of fiction (ok, strictly, not true, I have a partially done short story that I started years ago and haven’t returned to). Maybe I should finish it. It’s a satire, and those are hard to pull off. I’m not sure I’m all that hilarious though I do like to try and hide references and subtle jokes in my writing from time to time.

3. The common advice to writer’s is to write what you know. I’ve tried to do that, though a corollary to this statement is there has to be a way to know things. That way is to go exploring, be curious, seek out new experiences. While I’ve done some of that (I’m a scientist), I do feel I spend too much time ensconced in my comfort zone and not really experienced a lot to write about meaningfully. Travelling more with my RFID chipped new passport, talking to more people (interviewing them? I’ve also never been a reporter, but the world of journalism fascinates me).

4. I’ve never worried much about doing grammar good. Subject, verb, object. Direct, simple sentences. Make tenses agree in a paragraph. Parallel structure. Break up blocks of text. Write like you’re speaking (aka read what you write out loud). Read it backwards to see if it still makes sense. The hero’s journey is a universal story structure.

I’m aware of a lot of these ideas. I just don’t implement them in a formal very often. And I might want to start trying to do that more because it might well make my writing better.

5. I alluded to this in the previous post, but I’ve never gotten used to hearing my own voice played back to me, or seeing myself on video camera. Just using my audible voice seems weird and awkward a lot of the time. This is obviously something to get over if I want to be a good communicator (and I do!). It’s not that I can’t speak, it’s just a high bar to getting started for me. Once I start, I tend to be OK. In chemistry, I think they’d refer to this as high activation energy.

Listicle, done.





Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

2 thoughts on “Writing challenge, day 3.”

  1. #5 was weird to me for a long time, too! It took a ton of podcasts and audio recordings and videos until it stopped being weird for me. It’s like meeting a new friend, eventually. You get used to what you sound like outside of yourself, and it’s not so weird anymore. I encourage you to do a podcast or record a video at some point!

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