Category: Writing

Posts on writing by a writer Jano Klimas, primarily on books, poetry, slams and science writing.

Optimizing writing schemes for addiction researchers

The “coolest” science writing isn’t necessarily found in the science press.

– Surgeon and New Yorker contributor Gawande in The Best American Science Writing 2006

Writing constitutes a significant challenge for junior addiction researchers. Writing support programmes appear to improve writing skills and enhance productivity. However, addiction researchers have not benefited from writing support groups to the same extent as other professions, mainly due to the lack of support for and considerable variation among these programmes. 
Given a lack of research about the contribution of writing support programmes to publication productivity among early-stage addiction researchers, this article offers critical insights into the process and outcomes of such programmes, based on the substantial experience accumulated from taking part in several writing support programmes, including the scheme of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE). 

A better understanding of what makes writing groups effective may help build evidence for writing programs and universities to equip addiction investigators with the skills they need to improve the health of people with substance use disorders via better writing. Read more in the Journal of Substance Use  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14659891.2016.1235735 

From stage to studio – one poet’s journey

Spoken word poetry slams can be exhausting. Although the live feedback from interested audience re-charges most poets’ batteries, sometimes it’s good to just take time off and go back to the studio; more precisely, the Writers’ Studio (TWS). Don’t be confused. This isn’t a special recording studio for writers, but a year-long, part-time postgraduate certificate in creative writing at the Simon Fraser University, Department of Continuing Education
I “went” to the studio to learn how to write longer poems and how to edit poetry. 
The studio offered to:
  • Get hands-on creative writing training
  • Study under published authors
  • Make creative writing part of your life
  • Be part of a community of writers
As with every profession, there are many communities and sub-communities of writers. The studio made me part of a very special community of people who were published authors or who wanted to be published, but very few spoken word poets.
There were two main parts to the studio. First were the didactic lectures. Published authors lectured on theory and practice of writing. Second were the fortnightly workshop meetings. Each genre group met separately, about 8 students per group. As poets, we submitted our poems to everyone in the group one week before the meeting and read poems from classmates.
Workshop
The group feedback was the main vehicle of the workshop. When we got the poems from our classmates, we’ve read them, prepared a one-paragraph summary of our impressions on each poem and brought printed copy of each to the workshop night. At the meeting, a poet read their piece followed by oral feedback summary from two classmates. In this way, the structure of the workshop was similar to the writers’ taskforce group at UCLA. Later, we’ve abandoned the 2-reviewer model and let everyone say one good thing and one bad thing about the poem. All received written reviews from classmates and mentor.
Saturdays
Saturdays were killing me. Having a full-time job and a kid to raise, I’ve realized the high toll that weekend courses put on families. Because the whole cohort came to the Saturday classes, connecting with the rest of the class was very nice and well-earned gain of taking the time away from my family.
Readings
Mondays were for readings; in-class preparation for the real world readings in the Cottage bistro where the TWS community gathered. Tutors modeled reading style and gave pearls of wisdom to students.
Lessons learnt
Halfway there, I found that the Studio helped me to “see” into my poems more. However, the most useful learning came from realizing what I didn’t want to do:
I don’t want to write alone only.
I want to write with others regularly.
I don’t want to chase poetry publications.
I want to speak poetry out loud.
I’m not a page poet.
I’m a stage poet.
I don’t want to write concrete poetry.
I want my poems image full.
I don’t want to analyse poems too much.
I want to share instant thoughts on poems.
I don’t like long, elaborate prompts.
I like short, spontaneous prompts.
Watch this place for my views on the 2nd semester in the Writers’ Studio.

Discovering Thursdays Writing Collective

Thursdays
When I first arrived in Vancouver, Canada, I was desperate to join a writing collective. My experience with the Dublin’s Writers Forum and the Oregon’s Write Around Portland taught me the power of writing groups. I observed that collective writing fosters motivation and provides a way out of the isolation that this solitary activity can otherwise induce, making writing communal. It shows that though we’re able to write alone, we don’t have to. We can write together, too, and this changes the stereotype—and daunting nature—of being a solitary writer!
 
 
photocredit: thursdayswritingcollective.ca
 

Time to write simply

How junior researchers can write effectively and simply? Use simple style in all your writing, whether it’s an email, an invitation or a reference letter.

 

photocredit: universityaffairs.ca

I am so tired of reading badly written science. I barely finish reading articles that runs over one page. None of my friends read (my) articles. The feeling of failure spreads in me like cancer. Firstly, I’m worried that we have failed everyday people who need our answers the most. Secondly, I fear that I, my colleagues and my mentors have failed future scientists by passing our bad writing habits on to them. How junior researchers can write effectively and simply?

Read my latest article in the Career Advice section of the University Affairs magazine website:

http://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/

 

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