Sunday, April 17, 2016

It’s a Bit Easier But I Still Hate It

Yes, yes I know that scientific writing and communication is important.  Trust me, I get it.  But like, why does it have to be so tortuous?

Let me be clear: these feelings are fresh.  As in, I-submitted-my-report-10-minutes-ago fresh (and yes it’s 2:00 am Monday morning … pls don’t judge me).  So I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to give an accurate representation of how writing this Mod 2 report went.

I’ll set the scene:  I had some outlines.  I had some data calculated in an Excel sheet.  I had the list of things to include in each section.  I had a fresh document opened.  But you know what I didn’t have? Motivation.

For this report, I had a better idea of what to do.  I received super helpful comments on my Mod 1 report, and I was determined not to make those same mistakes.  I just didn’t really feel like doing it.

I just thought about the enormous amount of work: I had to make my figures concise and informative; I had to have a clear purpose; I needed to explain my results and discuss them in a relevant context; I needed to think about the future of my research….but that’s so much stuff to do.   And then when I saw “13 pages” on the wiki I immediately had to take a nap.

 But here I am! I did it!!!!! And I’m alive!!!!! All I had to do was push myself.

Ultimately, scientific writing takes a lot of work, but it's worth it.  Spread your knowledge! Show how cool you are!  If nothing else gets you motivated, just remember that you're an amazing scientist with something to say.  Beyonce wouldn't be able to do this, but you can.

I’m still working out the kinks, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Thank you thank you thank you Leslie, Maxine, and Noreen for dealing with all my questions. (Also shout-out to my amazing lab partner Jackie for dealing with my weird sleep-deprived ramblings.)  I think the most important thing I’ve learned from this whole process is that we all need help sometimes, and that’s okay. 

Don’t feel that as an MIT student you need to have everything figured out. I knew nothing about laboratory techniques, let alone NHEJ repair, before taking 20.109.  And that was fine!  Remember that everyday is a journey and you won’t get things right the first time.  You just have to keep working.

Usually, the first thing you write will not be your final masterpiece.  Take those pieces of feedback and make yourself better.  Future you will thank you for taking the time to grow.

I feel like I just got kind of deep there, but everything I say is true.  This has been one of my hardest lessons to learn in 20.109 as well as at MIT in general.  Keep learning, and don’t be afraid to learn from others.

With that, here’s a picture of my best friend’s new puppy.  Her name is Shamrock, and she believes in you!

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