World Federation of Science Journalists

How did you become a Science Writer? - leading journalists respond

August 30, 2010

Award winning British science writer, Ed Yong, writes the hugely popular blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science.

“I’m really interesting in writing about science and I was wondering how you got into it and whether you had any tips?”
At some point in our careers, all science writers receive an email like this and most of us probably sent one when we started out. While it’s important to encourage the next generation of scribes, replying to such requests isn’t always easy. It’s time-consuming, for a start. More importantly, science writing (or journalism or blogging or whatever term you care to choose) is a diverse endeavour that dwarfs our own meagre experiences. It would be far more instructive for newcomers to get a flavour of this diversity from a range of different writers.

(image source:
Ed Yong
To this end, I started a thread on my blogNot Exactly Rocket Science – where writers from around the world could tell their ‘origin stories’ and to provide advice for bright-eyed hopefuls. The thread would act as a permanent resource that pooled the collective wisdom of the world’s top writers and chronicled the varied ways of breaking into the field.

The response has floored me. I initially asked for submissions from a dozen or so people who I knew personally, to get the thread off to a flying start but within a day, there were 70 entries. Within a week, there were 125 and more are trickling in all the time. As you might expect, the stories are witty, poetic and lengthy (I really ought to have known better than to tell a group of writers to write about themselves with no word limit). Some are practical, others inspirational. Together, they describe a field that has grown considerably in recent years and that, despite recent prophecies of doom, shows no sign of disappearing. And together, they will hopefully inspire the next recruits into our varied ranks.

Ed welcomes further contributions from science journalists around the world – spread the word, and add your own stories!