Category Archives: Writing

A Personally Tested 30-Step Program to Become a Science Writer

1. Attend college intending to study science, but take a variety of interesting writing classes as well.

2. When it comes time to declare a major, decide that biology has more “promise” than writing or literature (because this is what your advisor tells you).

3. Take an expensive MCAT preparation class as you plan to enroll in an MD/PhD program.

4. After months of preparation, decide the MCAT and medical school are definitely not for you and take the GRE instead.

5. Apply to several graduate schools including Stanford.

6. Get a rejection letter from Stanford.

7. Get a second rejection letter from Stanford one week later.

8. Interview at University of Wisconsin – Madison.

9. Wonder if the fact that a large portion of your extended family lives within 20 miles of Madison is a deterrent to choosing that school.

10. Decide that the fact that a large portion of your extended family lives      within 20 miles of Madison is actually a draw to that school.

11. Attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

12. Enjoy your graduate classes during the first two years of your program as you realize you really like reading and learning about science.

13. Find a lab in which to do your research and begin a research project.

14. Outline several hypotheses about your project explaining why you may see the results that you see.

15. Perform experiments over the next several years that disprove each one of those hypotheses, one by one.

16. Realize at this point that the research you did as an undergraduate did not adequately prepare you for graduate work and that you may not be cut out for research after all.

17. After a series of experiments that are essentially fishing expeditions, fall upon an interesting result.

18. Recreate your project based on that interesting result.

19. Realize that even after getting an interesting result you still don’t feel cut out for research.

20. Begin to look into alternative career options you may have after completing your PhD program.

21. Continue working on your project that has now become centered on metabolism.

22. Find your college biochemistry book so that you can remember something about metabolism.

23. Attend career fairs and panels and strike gold as you listen to a science writer talk about her career.

24. Realize that you can read about, talk about and think about science without actually having to do the research yourself.

25. Do a happy dance.

26. Begin to apply to science writing programs as you continue experiments and begin to write your thesis.

27. Get accepted into science writing programs and decide to stay at Madison.  (Get no rejection letter from Stanford – but only because you didn’t apply there).

28. Finish and successfully defend your thesis.

29. Begin the science writing program and rediscover the fun of writing and reading about science when it doesn’t have to apply to your PhD project.

30. Start a blog on which you get to write the story of how you became a science writer.