Thanks for Being our Friends

Welcome SignWe reconstituted SANDSWA because we thought there might be pent up demand for a local science writing organization. Judging by the response at yesterday’s Farmer & The Seahorse happy hour, we weren’t wrong.

We guesstimate around 50 people showed up – freelancers, PIOs, journalists, marketing and PR pros, postdocs, grad students and at least one PI. People came from UCSD, Salk, SBP, LIAI, the UT, Canale, CG Life, Little Dog. There were past, present and (possibly) future San Diego Business Journal biotech writers. Thanks everyone for coming. And if you couldn’t make it, we missed you.

In a way, it was like a big family reunion where everyone gets along. We got to meet (IRL) so many people we knew only via email. There were former colleagues reacquainting and more than a few who had held the same positions at different times.

On a personal note, I’ve been to science events where I’m the only writer, and I have to explain what I do. And I’ve been to PR and journalism events where I’m the only science writer, and I have to explain what I do. It was nice getting to skip the preamble.

Steve2So, what’s next? There will be networking, facility tours, speakers, book signings. Stay tuned for a calendar of events (coming soon). If there’s anything you’d like to see, please let us know.

In the interim, you can become a member – only $25 or $15 for fulltime students. Join by July 31 and your one-year membership becomes an 18-month membership. You won’t have to re-up until 2020.

On the social media side, please follow, like and retweet on Twitter @SANDSWA2. We will be opening our Facebook page soon as well, so watch out for that.

We’re also looking for volunteers. You can help plan events, take on administrative duties or submit a guest blog. Send us a nice note, sandswa.info@gmail.com. We want to keep in touch.

 

Happy 4th

Image by Tom WalshI hope everyone is having a pleasant and relaxed 4th of July week. I’m reading about liquid biopsies, which is my idea of a good time.

Anyway, a couple of quick reminders. Our Kick-Off Happy Hour is coming next Wednesday at Farmer & The Seahorse. Start time is 5:30. You should register, I guarantee nothing better is going to come along.

Also, we have a Twitter page – @SANDSWA2. You should follow. We promise we won’t troll you about anything, except maybe the Oxford comma. Serious divisions there.

Okay, in summary, come to the happy hour, follow us on Twitter, have a great 4th.

On Becoming a Science Writer

Operating_a_Computer_Keyboard_MOD_45158109People sometimes ask me what I did to become a science writer. It was a circuitous path, but it’s worth noting that my degrees are in history and creative writing. I had to get the science knowledge through other means.

I make this point because it’s not an exclusive field. In some ways, I’m disadvantaged because I have to figure out things I might have learned in undergrad biochem. On the other hand, it becomes a voyage of discovery for me, much like my readers. Now that I know the science better, I have to occasionally check myself because I’ve started using jargon my audience might not understand.

For those who are interested in becoming science writers, from English majors to MD, PhDs, the first requirement is wanting to do it. I love my job, but I still have days when I really don’t want to write at all. It’s not writer’s block (that’s an entirely different post), it’s just work malaise.

My underlying desire to communicate science gets me through. I can’t imagine what it would be like to feel tepid about it. I’d probably have a different career by now.

The second step is writing. At some point, or even many points, people will ask to see your writing samples. You can write a blog (be sure to publish consistently, people notice), do some volunteer writing for your favorite scientific nonprofit, get an internship. Find a way to get the words out.

Take a class or two. UCSD offers an entire science communication program. Some of these classes are taught by SANDSWA board members Heather Buschman and Tiffany Fox, as well as scicomm guru, Lynne Friedmann.

Network like crazy. The San Diego Biotech Network holds periodic events. CG Life is hosting their annual Unwind party on August 9. Other possible resources are PRSA, HCC and IABC.

Also, by the way, SANDSWA is having its first happy hour on July 11 at Farmer & The Seahorse on Torrey Pines Mesa. You should come. We’ll chat more.

Welcome to the San Diego Science Writers Association

Sandiego_skyline_at_nightSan Diego is a science town. You know the players: universities, research institutes, biotechs, medtechs, just plain techs. There are lots of people writing about science, and probably an equal number who think that would be a pretty cool career but haven’t taken the plunge.

So, we have recreated the San Diego Science Writers Association (SANDSWA) to invigorate our science writing community. We are journalists, biotech writers, public information officers, students, teachers…It’s a long list.

We envision an organization where science writers at all levels can meet, tell stories, voice frustrations, share tips and just basically talk shop. We’re not persnickety about who joins. You won’t have to present a bylined article or a blood sample or anything. If you’re looking to break into the industry (we see you, postdocs), we can point you towards classes, offer some advice and perhaps give you a guest blogging opportunity. If you’re an established writer, or just like talking about science, we’re happy to chat.

Right now, we’re nailing down our nonprofit status and developing a road map for the next couple of years. If you have suggestions or would like to volunteer, we’d love to hear from you.

But first, let’s meet in real life. We’re holding a no-host happy hour at the Farmer & The Seahorse on July 11 at 5:30. Come join us to enjoy a couple of cocktails and talk science.