For many scientists, the pandemic has given us time to write. From our home offices and kitchen tables, we are constructing grants, manuscripts, qualifying exams, science communication pieces, and theses. Personally, I love writing; it's my favorite part about being a scientist. But my enthusiasm isn't shared by all of my colleagues and friends. For many, writing is a necessary evil, and regardless if you enjoy or loathe the writing process, afterward comes the true nightmare, editing.
My Master of Science thesis was my first major editing experience. Previous to this writing venture, I was lauded for my writing ability. During my master's program, writing assignments usually landed me good grades and praise. Heck, I was a writing tutor; I knew my stuff. The first draft of my thesis manuscript was written carefully over the course of my final semester. I sent the draft to my PI, expecting to get an email back with minor edits and complements for my well-written work. (Oh, the naivety.)
My first draft was marked up in strikeouts and overflowed with comments. Surprised, I braced myself, read through her comments, and made draft #2. I figured I was done now that I had addressed her edits. Nope, more edits came. Draft #3 was written, and she sent along more edits. I edited five drafts in all and probably would've had more if we hadn't run out of time. The editing was hell, but undeniably, my thesis was astronomically improved due to the monotony of rereading and rewriting the fifty pages over and over.
Since my thesis, I've had numerous writing ventures, and rather than dread the editing phase, I have learned to embrace it, not as a chore I begrudgingly endure, but as an opportunity to sculpt my work as a piece of art. This change in mindset has decreased the anxiety and stress associated with editing. So, I am sharing my tips with you on how to improve your editing attitude.
Editing turns an isolating experience into a collaborative project. Embrace the edits and keep an open mind to colleagues' opinions — happy writing and editing to all those working on projects during this pandemic.