Courtesy of Amy Sillman

If you are a postdoc, you are probably writing something: a fellowship application, an abstract, an article, or something for your principal investigator's (PI) grant. Your first major introduction to scientific writing was probably in graduate school, when you were expected to produce a dissertation, and maybe a couple of publishable articles along the way.

I remember well that time in my life. At first it was really cool to be working on the dissertation, after passing my prelims and slaving away in the laboratory. I loved answering the question, "How's the writing going?" because it meant I had been granted the very impressive Permission To Write. Once the novelty wore off, I dreaded that question. My answer consisted of a grimace and the words, "Don't ask." I was positively giddy the day I handed in the final version, although perhaps I was just feeling the...

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