Writing is writing…Right?

My already deficient blogging routine is going to take a big hit over the next couple of months as I am forced *shudder* to write a scientific grant to fund my research for the next few years.
These NHMRC (the acronym is boring enough, you don’t want to know the full name believe me) grant applications are about 30 pages long. No sweat for a writer, huh? But they aren’t plot-driven pages brimming over with fascinating characters and zesty dialogue–they are hypotheses, aims, technical approaches, time lines and materials required. The most exciting thing I can look forward to writing is the ‘expected outcomes’ section. This is where I say how wonderful my idea is and that it will (somewhere down the line in 10-15 years, maybe 20) contribute to the treatment of cancer (maybe). Never ever be definite in science writing: always couch statements with may, perhaps, possibly, if as predicted

Other ways in which grant writing is the polar opposite of good writing:

1. use lots of jargon, abbreviations and acronyms

2. avoid all adjectives

3. no 1st or 3rd person–use the royal ‘we’

4. do not describe the setting (the readers assume everything will take place in a lab)

5. give away the end at the start–never surprise your reader

6. include pictures and diagrams that you cobbled together in Photoshop

7. this is your one chance to write in future tense (we will extract and compare DNA from the cell lines of interest and this may enable us to determine if there is a difference between immortalised cells using the ALT or Tel mechanism of telomere maintenance…) ASLEEP YET?

8. make up new verbs based on jargon: hybridise, polyadenylate, PCR amplify…

9. couldn’t think of anything but I like lists with ten points

10. use passive voice whenever possible (cells will be treated…)

I pray my writing skill recovers quickly from this immersion in a nightmare pool of technobabble. I plan to meet my goal of 500 words per day on my current wip regardless, but I’m not sure my brain will change gears easily. Methinks there will be much editing ahead. Thank goodness I worked on my manuscript over the holidays (I’m at 20,000 words, yay!) and came up with a decent outline to guide me during this difficult time.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading! More posts on books, film, and writing can be found on my website at Lorel Clayton Author.

15 thoughts on “Writing is writing…Right?

  1. oooh…No fun! How about creating a character for yourself? You could preten you are writing as, say, a Robert Langdon-type (of your own creation, of course), with a very specific goal: to get this grant in order to study cell structure and save mankind, or somesuch. It might make it more fun. It would certainly make the royal “we” more enticing!

    Best of luck to you!

    Do Beautiful Things

  2. Michele- I like that idea! Scenes are much easier to write ‘in character’, so maybe it will work for grants? I think my persona will have an arch-nemesis (based on a competitor of mine in New York) who wears pointy shoes and makes her employees throw things at the wall in frustration as soon as she’s out of the room. My character will not only devise a project to save mankind but send that hag packing, with her victims cheering me on! (insert megalomaniacal laugh)

    Elizabeth- You find the silver lining in everything! My creativity will be dying to break loose after this, I’m sure. I might write something really wild and crazy so watch out.

    Jemi- Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Michele– If they locked people up for that kind of talk, there wouldn’t be any writers left on the streets 🙂

    Stephanie– Thanks! I hope you never have to write one either. I wouldn’t even wish it on my arch-nemesis.

  4. WOW, sounds like a lot of hard work, but in the end worth it. Here’s wishing you luck that the grant writing process goes smoothly and quick, you get back to your writing and your blog like you want, and get great news that you’ve got the grant.

  5. Thanks Mason! Can’t wait to get back to blogging. I try to read a few from time to time still. Makes me feel part of the community. I’d really miss it if I didn’t check in now and again.

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