Technical Writing

Technical writing, or my attempt at it, is killing me. It’s killing my motivation to write. It seems like writing can be technical or readable, choose one.

Is it because it’s hard to fit what needs to be said into the provided space? It seems that whenever I attempt to write something that’s readable, it’s critiqued as too colloquial or the like. People are used to seeing jargon in journals.

I know that it’s important to be precise — that it’s necessary to convey exactly what was done, or exactly what happened. I understand that there are certain terms and lingo that make a paper more likely to be published. I’m having a hard time reconciling that with readability.

It’s probably just that I’ve never done this before. I’ve never really had to work at writing. Typically, the words just come to me and I put them on the page. A reread or two to make sure that I didn’t switch thoughts midsentence, and the paper gets an ‘A.’ That worked before. It most certainly does not work now.

I read two books, you know, on how to write well. One addressed nonfiction in general with a section on scientific writing, while the other specifically covered journal-grade scientific writing. Perhaps they were lousy books, or I took the wrong lessons from them.

Why the passive voice everywhere?

Argh… any pointers on how to do this correctly would be appreciated. I just went through my advisor’s comments on some of my drafts and tried to figure out what I did wrong. This post is my brief break before digging back in and trying to fix what’s wrong. I’m tempted to start over with sentence fragments and thoughts and then rewrite.