In July 2010, I realised a five year long ambition - to actually attend a training session on Writing for Publication. It's been a standing objective on my annual appraisal since I began working as a Clinical Librarian. Once, I signed up for a course only for it to be cancelled. Another time, I totally missed one by virtue of not reading a conference programme properly. In fact, I was so convinced I would never manage to achieve this at my last but one appraisal, I set about looking at things from a different angle - more on that another time.
But this Summer, I finally managed to find a session and go to it - at the Health Libraries Group Conference 2010, run by Maria Grant, Editor of HILJ, and Andrew Booth, from ScHaRR.
This came back to mind today for two reasons. One, I just received the post, and found this:
On the back was the writing objective I set for myself in the session. I've written "Project: MSc dissertation (and article?) - systematic review of PDAs. Audience: Examiners! And hopefully clinicians/librarians. Timescale: End of Sept for dissertation; end of year for article". And I've already achieved the dissertation part, which makes it all the sweeter. I have an Outlook reminder to start thinking about the article part next week. I love it when this happens, it makes me feel efficient.
I was in the group that did the "nutshelling" practical, which basically meant sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and just writing down what I wanted to say. There's meant to be no going back & crossing out, you just write and get over the fear of having that blank sheet in front of you! Editing can be done later. I've used it to draft this post today too; I've found it very helpful indeed.
I have had some other recent experience of writing for publication. Back in May I was asked to write a chapter for a new Facet Publishing book on Web 2.0. It was incredibly daunting, but with a bit of nutshelling, and a lot of research, I've just about managed it. It was another learning curve, using the style guide and instructions for authors and trying to make my point clearly. Between the chapter and the dissertation it's also meant I've got to grips with Refworks which has been really useful.
Another thing I have learned from the process of writing the dissertation, the chapter and this blog is that writing regularly is the key. Even if you do screw up that piece of paper & toss it in the bin.