Writing is really freaking hard. At least when you have to do it. I find it easy to jot down personal thoughts in a journal here and there, because it’s something I have done since 8th grade. That process is already engrained, and I am not worried about someone reading it, my grammar, or whether it’s been fact-checked. Thoughts can just stream out, even if they are stupidly about some horrible guy that has been treating me like invisible dog poop. Plus, it’s cheaper than a psychologist.
But carving out and sticking to a schedule of writing when it’s more about the personal dilemmas in the science and science writing world, just doesn’t happen. Or it does, but mostly in my head. This hiccup is primarily because the idea of doing extra research seems overwhelming, as does spending even more time on the computer or perfecting a post as if it were being submitted to a magazine. I apparently didn’t know how to approach writing on my own website without it being some long, investigative, insightful and metaphoric, perfectly bow-tied piece. So, I rarely ever get to “blogging.” Other big reasons are that I’m not getting paid for it, no one is reading this except me and perhaps my mom (because without consistent posting, I don’t promote this blog), and I already struggle with managing time for multiple contracts that DO pay.
A lot of the struggle that I am finding, thanks to the help and gentle nudge of a career coach (praise the universe for Regan), boils down to saying you are doing to do something, and not breaking that promise to yourself. And make those goals really small and totally achievable, so that after these small wins, the new activity just evolves into a habit. Then I feel better about this process because I am whipping it into shape, rather than it whipping me. Soon I won’t have to set an alarm, I won’t have to leave notes for myself, I won’t have to call in all the troops to muster courage to sit down for creative writing, because eventually that urge will just be something that naturally boils up and out of me. Right now it burps and gurgles underneath layers of muddy ooze. And it’s starting to fester.
I am hoping this little exercise (co-inspired by my colleague Erin Loury) on consistently writing something short, something personal, something about the process of where I am, will just help me to write, and will aid in other aspects of my science communication career–really help me treat it like a career. Ultimately, that’s how to feel like an authority on an issue; how people find you, relate to you, and rally behind you, which catapults your confidence to do more; and how it helps me to virtually step outside my journal and allow my voice to come through (which I do in real life, anyway). That place of vulnerability is bloody scary (digital platforms are forever), and means I will need a few pads to deflect our society’s need to armchair comment, which is okay unless you are an anonymous, uninformed jerk.
But writing is still really freaking hard… on my body. This pain in turns affects my psyche when sitting in front of a computer. I don’t want to hurt, yet how else do I do this job? Though I terribly miss being out to sea as a scientist––because let’s face it, I led a much healthier life physically by rarely being behind a computer, with no back ailments like I have now––it didn’t mean that my work changed any lives, any minds, any regulations (okay maybe that ecotoxicology stuff had some potential). Field biology ultimately fed my sense of adventure, but at the end of the day, who else was it impacting? And that is why I enhanced my science background: to reach a wider audience, though it comes at a physical cost. Maybe I will find a way to balance the two (dictating stories to a robot while I am out in the field as a scientist???), but until then, this urge to reach people through video or writing and inspire them to take note of an environment that supports their very existence, has actually bubbled free of that heavy ooze. And so I really shouldn’t ignore it.