Science writer or nature writer?

Reflecting on science versus nature writing.

I have a guest post up today on the Canadian Science Writers’ Association blog – thanks to Colin Schultz for editorial suggestions that helped clarify my thinking.
“I came to science writing (and joined CSWA) because it seemed a natural fit for my combined love of writing and my training as an environmental scientist. Lately, however, I’ve been getting excited by workshops like Fishtrap in Oregon—which focuses on nature writing rooted in the Western environment–and Orion Magazine’s Breadloaf in Vermont. My interest in these workshops makes me wonder if I’m actually more of a nature writer than a science writer. But asking that question begs another: what exactly is the difference between the two – and is it even a relevant distinction?”
Read the rest here.

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3 thoughts on “Science writer or nature writer?”

  1. Very interesting, especially those links, which I’m eager to explore. I come from a scientific family but I was (labeled) the artistic one. We all enjoyed nature, and I am still drawn towards identifying what I see and knowing more of the science behind it (even as I manipulate the photos I take to exaggerate the artistic aspect; even as I write in haiku-like form to convey the essence of what I sense outdoors).
    Here’s another angle – some say that too much focus on the scientific principles and explanations clouds the experience – you lose the thing itself. As soon as you engage in description, you’ve moved away from the immediacy of the experience. I suspect you’ve thought about that. And perhaps you come down again on the side of a continuum, which sounds good to me. Only thing is, I would be suspect of any attempt to fix a position on the continuum – just slide along it, as consciously (and lyrically) as possible!

    • I agree about too much science clouding the experience – it serves as a way to separate ourselves from the immediate rather than immerse ourselves in it. Even though it also provides the means to understand that experience.
      And I completely agree about sliding along the continuum rather than fixing a position on it – results in much more flexible/authentic writing than if one rigidly adheres to a single category.


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