What You and Great Scientists Have in Common


Andrea MacDonald

Wow. It’s already Thursday and so far this week we’ve talked about communicating clearly, the importance of numbers, and how stepping back in time can breath new life into your writing.

Today I’m going to tackle a core subject that strikes fear into the hearts of writers everywhere. (Okay, maybe it’s just me.)

Quick. Name the first thing that comes to mind when I mention science class. Dissecting frogs … Bunsen burners … sedimentary rocks?

When you’re stuck reciting things like the Periodic Table of Elements by rote, it’s easy to forget the common element in every great discovery: experimentation.

It’s like choosing a niche. Don’t waste time on markets that don’t interest you. Play the field a little until you hit that proverbial sweet spot.

Guess what else great scientists have in common?

Research and exploration.

While it’s true that some of the world’s greatest discoveries came about by accident (think penicillin), that’s usually the exception.

Check out the following quote from Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb and motion picture camera:

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

It’s like a variation of practice makes perfect. Now doesn’t that sound like a familiar refrain from a teacher in your past?

Say you’re a B2B content writer. Try a B2C landing page or something outside your expertise altogether. If you’re a technical writer, try spreading your wings with a screenplay.

If it sounds like the opposite of choosing a niche, it’s not. It’s all about conducting a series of experiments to prove or disprove your hypothesis.

Now, let’s get physical.

Remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion? It states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s probably the most famous of the three.

Now let’s look at Number One and Number Two.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. This law is sometimes called the law of inertia.

The Second Law of Motion states that heavier objects require more force to move the same distance as lighter objects. And whenever an object pushes another object, it gets pushed back in the opposite direction equally hard.

How on earth does these laws apply to writing?

Well, I think we’re all familiar with inertia! It’s that feeling of being so paralyzed by choices that we end up doing nothing.

Think of the Second Law as our momentum. The longer you stay inert, the harder it is to get motivated. You need to push against that wall of indecision to move to the other side.

Now I’m not expecting us to change human beings’ understanding of the universe with these laws. But approaching your work with the cool, clinical eye of a scientist can give you just the boost you need.

Action step: Experiment with three different writing styles you’ve never tried before to find the best fit. Write three paragraphs in each style and ditch the ones that just don’t work.

Let me know below which styles didn’t work and why.

Tomorrow is our last day together as a group. Join me as we discuss using a completely different medium to express ourselves as writers.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
No ratings yet
Published: November 19, 2015

6 Responses to “What You and Great Scientists Have in Common”

  1. Andrea,

    I am new to this endeavor, as in never have written a single line of copy before. I have purchased several products, yet stymied as to WHAT to do. HOW to do it. WHERE to look for clients. etc.
    Having read through your writing today, I have more questions than the ability to perform the Action Task of writing styles or paragraphs of such.
    1. What is the topic?
    2. What writing styles are you referring?

    Nobody seems wiling to assist. They simply want more money for more products.

    Dazed and ConfusedNovember 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm

  2. This one was HARD. I tried writing a poem,it was terrible. I tried writing a blog piece. It wasn't bad, but not good either. I tried writing an outline for a play. That was like doing mental gymnastics. Guess I found my niche. Junk mail copy, website copy, technical writing, and proposal responses. Made $1,500 on the last one.

    Guest (Garret Whiteside)November 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm

  3. Just as Einstein's relativity renders space and time inseparable, writing can't work without contextual antecedents whence the story's told. It's up to us to rescue the pertinent information -- tattooed to time -- that can best relate a sequential narrative framed of, by, and for events otherwise indecipherably lost to posterity where all is eventually one with light. Therefore to reach the stars is but a crapshoot when sparing the alignment by which our crossroads are better informed.

    Guest (Chris Morris)November 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm

  4. For me, writing fiction has always been the easiest form of writing. It's just natural for me to become the character whose POV I am writing from, to write descriptively, and in the context of that character. Ironically, technical writing, which I've done professionally for nearly 20 years, has always been the most difficult for me, mainly because I have never had the opportunity to truly know who I am writing to and have had to write to a range of users in a single document.

    swertzbaugherNovember 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm

  5. The Writer’s Life November 19,2015 Adrea McDonald wrote:
    How on earth does these laws apply to writing?
    I would HAVE written:
    How on earth do these laws apply to writing?
    Please explain why you used ‘does’.
    Thank you, C.S. Catlin

    CatlinNovember 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

  6. TO: DAZED AND CONFUSED Try e-lance for a variety of writing opportunities. Many different categories and areas that might suit you.

    Guest (CGAYEGARRETT)January 4, 2016 at 1:31 pm


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)