Note: This article was originally commissioned by and published in The Singapore Microbiologist, July-September 1997 and republished in Medium.com on September 2021. While the article focuses on scientific writing, writers of any sort should find the tips useful.
In my many years editing scientific manuscripts I have discovered two extremely common myths about writing. The first is that the more obscure you are, the more profound. The second is that all people could write well if only they had enough time.
To some extent, I’m grateful for these myths (after all, the provide me with a decent living). On the other hand, they’re both dead wrong, and they lead many otherwise excellent studies to go unpublished and unrecognized. In this article, I briefly discuss each myth, hoping to convince you that writing clearly is a worthwhile goal for any scientist, at least any scientist who expects to be published in a major journal.