Sewing together a manuscript

I have these little pet projects, all somewhat related to one another, which I’ve been working on, off and on, for the past couple of years. They’ve been fun escapes from the grind when I’ve needed them most, but I’ve never remained focused on them long enough to make them into a nice, tidy story. Now that my postdoc is coming to a close, mentor and I agreed it was high time to get ‘er done.

I’m a big fan of this post from Isis, mostly because it’s how I write manuscripts. So I spent the majority of the past week analyzing old data. Generating figures. Scattering the pretty pictures around on my desk and computer while trying to write little blurbs up about them. Fleshing out the blurbs. Weaving the blurbs into a story. Finding the holes. And then…

I needed some literature review to figure out which direction to go next, what experiments needed to be done in my limited time remaining as a postdoc, so I started working on the introduction – before the results were finished (gasp!). But really, it was more of a “write it while you’re reading that shit” kind of review type thingy.

The scrap-booking method of putting together this manuscript seems to be working. I think my entertaining little shits will actually get published someday. Even if my head is feeling a little jello-ish. But that’s only because I’m also planning out the next 2 years of grant submissions while also trying to get a paper on a somewhat unrelated subject submitted. I know, this is my life now, and I’ll enjoy it. I just really want some jello with my whine.

5 thoughts on “Sewing together a manuscript

  1. hmm, this is my general approach to writing, but it is pretty different than how folks in my current lab do it and it drives me nuts when we try to co-write things. They do the “puke on a page” method where they basically do stream of consciousness writing then go back to edit it. It seems like it locks them into a story without really thinking about what story the data is telling them. It also drives me nuts when they write (CITE) instead of just finding the citation there are a number of times when my PI will make a grand statement and put (CITE) when I know he won’t be able to fine one for it since it’s so off the wall.

    It’s great that you’re getting all the loose ends pulled together. When are your leaving for TTT?

  2. Oh, but I really like free association writing; that’s usually how my introductions and discussions develop, whilst surrounded by stacks of papers. Also, I’ll “puke” my results onto the computer when I find myself spending too much time trying to figure out how to write things *just right*. So I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But the meat of the paper needs to be guided by the data. If you start there, you’ll probably write a manuscript much more reflective of the science.

  3. I also ‘puke on the page’..then edit profusely before anyone else sees it. It’s my method of binging and purging for the sake of scientific writing.

  4. Maybe my problem with the “puke on a page” folks is that the folks I work with have been sending me puke rather than refining it themselves. I don’t need things to be perfect before I read them, but I don’t want to have to try to edit and shape a half-baked story with no citations.

  5. I don’t understand sending anything out that is unreadable. That’s the type of editing (or review) assignment that gets sent back by yours truly.

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