writing and self doubt

I’ve been actively reading (and aspiring to write) science blogs since 2005. Those were the days when blog carnivals were ubiquitous and dominant, when almost everyone was still on blogger.com, when Scienceblogs.com still ruled the science corner of the blogosphere, and when blogging was still considered a strange niche activity that one was unlikely to ever make money from, unless they were already a celebrity or working for a mainstream news outlet.

All this time later, blogging in general and science blogging in particular have exploded. It isn’t considered crazy or rare to make money from it, though it still isn’t easy, and provides supplemental income for far more people than it fully supports. But most importantly it’s a beautiful, thriving community. Sure there are flame wars and trolls and all kinds of ugly problems, but there are also real, meaningful connections being formed, serious issues being discussed, and gobs of just plain fantastic content being produced.

And all these years later, I’m still barely dipping my toe in, and even that has felt difficult. It shouldn’t, truly–I have every reason to believe I can do this.  Despite my inconsistent and clumsy use of twitter, I’ve still managed to talk to writers I idolize and have been offered nothing but good will and encouragement. I certainly have more than enough science education to give this a shot, especially since lots of the great writers in this area don’t even have a formal education in science. I have been watching for a long time, and I’ve done my research.

But in my mind, I keep moving the goalposts. At first, I didn’t feel I had anything to offer having never worked in a lab. Later, I decided I wanted to finish my undergraduate degree, and then I’d feel confident. And now… now I feel like I simply have too much competition to ever be relevant. Even way back when I started reading, it was hard to imagine competing with the big fish… but now those big fish have 10+ years of internet writing and community building under their belts, and there are more rising stars, and more science writing graduate writing programs putting out new students all the time.

So it seems silly to even try.

But I’m trying to get past this. I’m trying to tell myself that I don’t have to be Ed Yong or Carl Zimmer or any of the other writers I admire in order to produce something of value. I’m also trying to tell myself that, in light of the fact that I’m still not sure exactly what I’m going to be doing for a career, this doesn’t have to lead to me making money from science writing for it to be worth spending my time on. It could just be good writing practice that also happens to share some cool science. And that would be okay.

That said… I’m still not going to be able to quickly dash off posts. I’m a perfectionist enough about my writing in general, but I hold myself to a higher standard when I write about science. I want things I share here to be deeply researched and well-cited, if not perfectly polished, and that shit takes time and a lot of mental energy.

And while I’m finding time to write at my other blog, that’s a different kind of writing that I have more brain space for at the moment. I love science you guys, but a person can only read so many papers and write so many citation-riddled documents in a day, and I’m currently maxing out my limits with final projects for classes.

So… it’s coming. I will write here, soon. I am working on it. But realistically, it probably won’t come until the end of March, after I’m done reading and writing science according to other people’s agendas, and have some time to spend on my own.

[I know it’s kind of silly to write this when no one’s really reading here yet… but I’m doing this to psych myself up, and to feel a bit more relaxed about not being able to write ALL THE THINGS right now.]

4 thoughts on “writing and self doubt

  1. Why don’t you put up some of the proposals you’ve had to do for class? It might not be perfect, but you can still build a base of articles and maybe get some helpful feed back.

    1. I could do that…. but I’m not terribly proud of my class proposals. They aren’t bad given the timeframe they’re written under, but I really don’t think anyone can produce a GOOD proposal in a field they only have 3 days worth of reading’s level of familiarity with, and that’s how all the proposals in this class have been written.

    1. Aww, thanks so much! Hopefully I’ll be writing here again soon… Moving this week and its been crazy and currently my computer is acting up, but I’ll have it all sorted soon.

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