It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in my first half a year of science writing — I screwed up quite a few times, too. Here are six mistakes, great and small, that I made in my first six months of freelancing and some advice on how to avoid making them yourself.
There are many paths into science writing, and mine is just one. But given that there seem to be plenty of other academics out there curious about writing about science, I thought it might be helpful to walk through exactly how I placed – and got paid for – my first real science story.
Ask anyone with so much as a toe in the astrobiology waters and they’ll tell you that the origins debate is a can of worms best left unopened unless you’re writing a thesis in worm physiology. And interestingly, it’s not clear that there was a time in which that wasn’t the case—even back before we could agree where worms actually come from.
Thinking about oxygen leads to interesting places, like the deep, dark, and often bizzare “light-independent” ecosystems of this planet. Think caves, animal guts, underground, and in the deep sea—basically anywhere there’s no light to power photosynthesis. The connection between darkness and oxygen might not be immediately obvious, but take a second to think about where all that oxygen you’re enjoying right now comes from (probably a tree) and it might be a bit clearer where I’m going with this.