My already deficient blogging routine is going to take a big hit over the next couple of months as I am forced *shudder* to write a scientific grant to fund my research for the next few years.
These NHMRC (the acronym is boring enough, you don't want to know the full name believe me) grant applications are about 30 pages long. No sweat for a writer, huh? But they aren't plot-driven pages brimming over with fascinating characters and zesty dialogue--they are hypotheses, aims, technical approaches, time lines and materials required. The most exciting thing I can look forward to writing is the 'expected outcomes' section. This is where I say how wonderful my idea is and that it will (somewhere down the line in 10-15 years, maybe 20) contribute to the treatment of cancer (maybe). Never ever be definite in science writing: always couch statements with may, perhaps, possibly, if as predicted...
Other ways in which grant writing is the polar opposite of good writing:
1. use lots of jargon, abbreviations and acronyms
2. avoid all adjectives
3. no 1st or 3rd person--use the royal 'we'
4. do not describe the setting (the readers assume everything will take place in a lab)
5. give away the end at the start--never surprise your reader
6. include pictures and diagrams that you cobbled together in Photoshop
7. this is your one chance to write in future tense (we will extract and compare DNA from the cell lines of interest and this may enable us to determine if there is a difference between immortalised cells using the ALT or Tel mechanism of telomere maintenance...) ASLEEP YET?
8. make up new verbs based on jargon: hybridise, polyadenylate, PCR amplify...
9. couldn't think of anything but I like lists with ten points
10. use passive voice whenever possible (cells will be treated...)
I pray my writing skill recovers quickly from this immersion in a nightmare pool of technobabble. I plan to meet my goal of 500 words per day on my current wip regardless, but I'm not sure my brain will change gears easily. Methinks there will be much editing ahead. Thank goodness I worked on my manuscript over the holidays (I'm at 20,000 words, yay!) and came up with a decent outline to guide me during this difficult time.
Wish me luck!