Category: Science writing

50 Shades of Grey Rejection

How does one give specific feedback: what format to follow, which rules to abandon; what are the grave dangers of inflation and how to deal with the fear of criticism? The information is available, but the courage seems lacking – I conclude in my latest post for University Affairs.

Bitter like lemon, the feeling of rejection lingers in your mouth for days – weeks, if you are not used to it. People who write a lot get many rejections and the most prolific writers hardly notice – they simply move on. This is where we all want to be, and I thought I was there, until… 
Vague like grey ash, a recent rejection kicked me out of this sweet acceptance back into the darkness and bitterness. What follows is a condemnation of hazy rejection letters in academia, my way to purge the poison from my system and to provoke discussion about how rejection should (not) be done.

 Read the full post here.

Writing Battle and New Year’s Social Night

January 29, inspired by Vancouver’s popular ‘Art Battle’, Vancouver writers kick started the year with the first ‘Writing Battle’, a chance for one writer to emerge victorious from a live writing competition.

Even if you’re not competing, this was a fantastic chance to socialize and meet other writers in a relaxed and fun-filled environment of the Railway Club.  

Ten bold and versatile writers competed live at the Railway club, and of course, were also supported by 20 others in the audience who chose the winner of the night, John Friesen.
The contestants were writing from writing prompts and the winner got a small prize, as well as the chance to share one of his pieces on a weekly radio show on Co-op Radio, Writing Life.

Over 600 members of the Vancouver Writers Group describe themselves as people who live in Greater Vancouver and love to write. We share our work, challenge and encourage each other, and read from our own writings to our fellow members. We argue over commas and colons, whether words in other languages should be translated or not, all things poetry, and anything else that happens to have words in it.

We usually have a few different meetings every month, mostly in coffee-shops around town, where we do writing activities and have discussions about different writing topics. Quite often we have social nights at a bar in Vancouver, and occasionally we hold writing competitions and one-off events. We welcome writers at all levels, whether you are just starting on your first story or are already published.

We also have a weekly radio show on Co-op Radio, Writing Life, which is live on Vancouver 100.5 FM on Tuesdays between 2pm and 2.30pm. Earlier editions of the show can be found here.

Resolution 2015

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of sh…t, I try to put the sh…t in the wastebasket.” Hemingway


Eighty years after Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald 1934, I join his self-criticism.

Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
In 2014, I’ve published my 100thblog post. I wrote one masterpiece to ninety-nine posts of sh…t. I tried to put the sh…t posts in the wastebasket, but the lure of the magical 100thmilestone was stronger. The number of my new posts doubled every year – starting with 14 in 2012, through 28 in 2013, to 58 in 2014. Keeping up with this trend will be a challenge in 2015.

While looking for Hemingway’s photo for this post, I found two other parallels between his life, work and my passions. First, he had an alcohol use disorder which led him to his tragic end. Mental health and substance use disorders have been the subject for most of my posts this year. If you identify as a woman, don’t drink more than 2-3 standard drinks per day. If you identify as a man, don’t drink more than 3-4 standarddrinks per day. It doesn’t matter that it’s Christmas. These are recommended low-risk drinking limits. Second, this fantastic software, named after Hemingway, can improve your writing: its creators write: “Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear. Hemingway highlights long, complex sentences and common errors.”

I want to keep writing a lot, but I also want to write for new publications, websites and channels.

Readers of my blog will see less premieres and more re-publications. I will re-posts my texts from other websites that I (will) support to keep the writing ball rolling.

With this, I’d like to thank you for reading. I wish you a productive 2015.

Keep writing a lot!

Finding the Evidence for Talking Therapies: Article in the Forum magazine

In an attempt to prove that counseling works for reducing drinking in concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug users, I ended up on a journey through research and review. Read the full article in the November issue of the Forum Magazine (Volume 31, Issue 10)

Figure 1. Photo of the article in the Forum

This article was inspired by an essay which won the 4th place in the 2014 Aindreas McEntee prize of the Irish Medical Writers. The competition is open to members of Irish Medical Writers, a group of doctors and journalists specialising in healthcare. Parts of it were posted in my September post here.

The Forum magazine is the official journal of the Irish College of General Practitioners ICGP. Published monthly by MedMedia since 1991, it is Ireland’s premier journal of medical education. Text taken from:

Founded in 1984, the Irish College of General Practitioners or ICGP is the recognised national professional body for general practice training in Ireland.


The best time for writing

Is there such a thing? Yes, there is, but it’s different for everybody. If you haven’t found your best time for writing, read more about my search for this writers’ Holy Grail

Waiting for the motivation fairy that never comes is a bad habit among many writers. I used to wait until the time was “right” for writing too. However, thanks to the mentorship of Dr McCarty, during my NIDA INVEST Fellowshiplast year, thanks to Zinsser’s books and to workshopswith Hugh Kearns, I’ve discovered that to write a lot means to write every day. It doesn’t mean writing lengthy texts daily, but every little helps when it comes to writing, too.
(c) Jano Klimas
Research articles are the bread and butter of my day job. Publications are the currency of science. A daily writing practice in the morning helps keep up the momentum and keep my job. Besides, I enjoy writing and welcome any opportunity to translate what we, the scientists, think and do, into a more reader-friendly language of non-specialist audience.
It took me a while to discover that I am a science writer – a journalist who writes about science. Although unpaid, my science blogs cover interesting articles, conferences and trainings. These essays are difficult to write, but not as difficult as academic papers. I write them on one afternoon, early each week. Most recently, my science writing was awarded 4thplace in the 2014 Andreas McEntee Medical Writing competition.
Generating new, fiction material is the easiest of all my writings. It started with a creative, prompt-based writing course in Portland, Oregon. Since then, I tend to scribble down snippets, tidbits … anytime they surprise me. It’s good to always keep a notepad on you – you never know which of these odd lings will become your next gem short story or haiku. Being systematic about these scatterings is harder than recording them as they arrive to me from the creativity ether. My current schedule and discipline allow me to spend one evening per week connecting, expanding and elaborating on them and another evening editing the results of my brainstorming. I’d love to do more of that though.