[Behind the Scenes] The making of my posts

3년 전

Sometimes it's better to show rather than tell. For a while I have been reading posts and speaking to users about their crappy posts and the problem is thematically the same in every case; people seem to be writing for the sake of writing. Or money. Passion on a subject is often absent but also knowledge of how to write one is often limited to 'reading Wikipedia'.

For this reason, here is an open blog about how I personally construct a post for SteemSTEM. It might be insightful to n00bs and even 0ldz. This will be about a so-far-unwritten post for my series on the Tree of Life. Later, or tomorrow, I will have used all the material to create the final product from whatever I find during the making of this post.

Feel free to try and beat me to my own blog =P

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Finding what to write about

Everyone is on even territory when it comes to creativity of posts and a sustainable 'business model' as a blogger. For me the best solution has been making series. This not only gives a flow of direction I can continue indefinitely, but it also allows me to break clickbait-style topics apart and engineer them into far more valuable and learned posts. More on that later.

Now, I consider myself well-informed in evolutionary biology, but even if I was an expert - which I'm absolutely not - there are no single experts that cover such a vast swath of evolutionary time and processes. This is totally fine. Writing about things I'm legitimately interested or even passionate about is the way to go. In the past I have written about anything from the bugs I find in the bamboo garden below my apartment to crazy celestial objects and obscure island locations. Limiting myself to what I happen to be an expert at would be just that; limiting. So I like to expand to whatever my eyes land on that day.

Once I found my primary topic - for this example, the 'Tree of Life' series - I needed to think of the direction - Writing a timeline from animal to animal, historical events, genetic variation? there are many ways to approach the subject. In the case of this series, I use an interactive tree for reference. and follow the tree down the line from the beginning of life to modern humans, making a new post whenever a significant branch breaks off. If I wanted to do this forever, I could always change topic and split off earlier to reach any other modern animal in the same way.

Finding the knowledge

To start off, I might use Wikipedia as a reference of terminology, or I might use personal experience in the case of the Chinese Pseudoscience series, it all depends. Google is also my friend here, but my best friend so far has been Google Scholar. There are plenty of other sources to access academic content but for the most part, Google and Scholar suffice for the Tree of Life series. Others, like my 'New Discoveries' series required me to dig much deeper, even personally emailing authors for more information on their current projects.

So last week I was looking at eggs and how they changed to adapt to land-based hatching rather than depending on water to survive. Where do I go from here? Well, I use the interactive map and get zooming. We were last looking at Amniotes:

The next part here is of course mammals but I notice here that the monotremes - Egg-laying mammals - break off here. This makes total sense and I might want to write about this moment before moving on to Therian Mammals. A quick google takes me to the wiki page Theria, which I will quickly brief over. I'll try to find a point of interest here or on Google, and if nothing comes through, move on to a later part of the branch.

In this case, I found a few things:

  • Key proteins called syncytins
  • Endogenization
  • The coracoid bone
  • 'Juramaia'

These are where I can start digging further. Another Google takes me naturally to more academic sources, but Google Scholar can come into play here, too. As an example search, I came across this, this, this and this.

Some of these might be stuck behind a paywall, others might only offer the abstract and many will be totally open access. It depends. I should note that I make use of the timeline feature on scholar.google because it's always useful and interesting to find the most recent research on a given topic and any controversy and disagreements that come with it:

Using the knowledge

At this point I simply have to get reading. It would be absurd to read the entirety of every paper and search result I come across, so for most research papers I generally read the abstract and then skip down to the Discussion section. This is so I both know what I will be reading about, obviously, but also to find out any flaws in their methodology.

In the case of the third example above, it's a Chinese authored paper which for me raises a big red flag, so it's important to read their personal insights of limitations but also to read more carefully into the whole paper to see if anything fishy sticks out.

Once all this is done, I'll read in depth the sources I decided were fully useful to me, or I'll google for some more. I might even google some clickbait journalism on a discovery on the topic. Anything of any quality is a good place for a jump start. Looking at this topic, I might read more into the placenta; a seriously complex system that, in my head, seemed to evolve from nowhere. This is a gap in my knowledge I want to fill up.

A quick search with terms like 'earliest placenta' got me this, this, this and this

I should have a pretty good picture of where I'm actually going to go with the article at this point, whether it's the the development of the placenta, the separation of marsupials, both or neither. Whichever way I decide, once a theme is established, I can then dig even further and repeat the above process with Google and Scholar if necessary.

On the chance that this isn't enough for a full post (unlikely), I'll just move through the tree, or in the general sense, move to what might have been the next episode and join it into one. No harm in that.

Images

Usually images are just a tool to break up the text into easier chunks, but sometimes they need specific images from particular researchers. This is where I am forced to either email them and wait a day or so for a response (Always yes so far), or do a crude drawing of my own (Rarely had to do that, thankfully). As long as people get the point, it doesn't have to be some superb rendition from some famous artist called Giovanni in the mountains of Tuscany.

Wrapping up

It's likely that I've made a total mess of the structure of the post by this point. It took me the longest time to realise I can actually go back and edit whatever I've written, even delete entire paragraphs if I've gone off on some pointless rambling tirade. I'll typically aim to wrap it up at about 1,000 words, but this isn't a hard rule, sometimes it's 800, other times 1,400. It depends.

This is also the point where I might already give myself a good idea for where I should go in the next week's post, having researched already up to this point. Sometimes I'll drop a note at the end as a cliffhanger, but really it's so I can go back to that post and remind myself of what I was gonna do.

How long does it all take?

I'm not really sure to be honest... There was a time where it would take a solid 12 hours or a couple of days to make a post far worse than what I produce nowadays. I tend to juggle the post between other parts of my day and I don't typically start at a consistent time - though usually at night. I suppose a post that takes around 3 hours is likely going to be a pretty decent post for me. I don't rush or pressure myself to get it done, I think that's the most important thing.

I have to think in terms of sustainability. I love doing this and so I don't want to make myself bored or stressed about something I love. I learnt this from Roger Federer, now a 36 year old tennis player yet again ranked no.1 or 2 in the world, depending on when you look. He learnt to sustain his passion for decades.

Hope this helps

I am not @gandalf, and thus my abilities as a writer are not on par with wizardry, so perhaps others in steemSTEM would like to write a post on their processes. Programming, maths, physics, geology, history, people who write about their profession, students, I imagine all of these will have totally different ways of writing posts. It'll be good for users who are trapped in a cage of copying Wikipedia or WebMD to get some healthy ideas from pro SteemSTEMmers.

How about @egothiest, @gentleshaid and @suesa??

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no porn in between? That's a recipe for disaster!

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I tend to juggle the post between other parts of my day

I didn't say either way =P

I don't know about 3 hours to write a post...that seems light on (but then I procrastinate a lot - I'll end up with a couple of drafts!).

Some good tips in there though, I think keeping to your passion is definitely the way to go, even if you have to do a lot of research to fill in the gaps.

I am not a SteemSTEMmer but, I do have various techniques to find and create content. If you are interested, I can do an overview and give some tips from that angle.

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I had read your post describing your writing model- Freewriting. You make most of your posts from your own experiences rather than researching for hours, Right? If you use some specific techniques please do share with us through one of your upcoming posts. :)

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Yes, I freewrite a lot but, there is always a little more to it than that ;)

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Sounds good, look forward to it! I'd say you're a SteemStem Speculator of a sort. A good position to be in

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I am interested.

Lots of great advice here. This also links well with @procrastilearner's post from today on informal peer review and feedback within steemstem. Finding topics to write on becomes a lot easier when we can bounce our work off others in the community.

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Yep I saw this! Only just got round to upvoting with steemstem though. We do need to see more collaboration, so thanks for that!

Hi @mobbs!

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Writing about things I'm legitimately interested or even passionate about is the way to go

This summarizes a whole lot of things. I always advise people; even my mentees; to always write something they're passionate about. By this, they'd discover the post is just flowing naturally within them, and they can feel and relate with the post.

Nice piece buddy. I'm gonna save this post for future references

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That's the nail on the head there - it helps the content ooze out of you and even give a sense of pride. Nicely put =)

This is an awesome initiative and the challenge is openly accepted. I have a feeling it will go a long way in helping more people than we can imagine. I will see what I can do in the next few days. Thank you for thinking up and actually writing about this.

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Great! Look forward to seeing how we differentiate =)

  ·  3년 전

I kind of try to follow the same pastern as u do. And writing up a good article is not an easy task, i think. It takes me several days to complete a single steemSTEM article. Thanks for sharing ur techniques with us.
Cheers!

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Don't spend too long on them, or you'll get burnt out and disappointed when you realise the rewards don't match the hours you've put into it!

Hello @mobbs

A good representation of most effective approach to writing articles that meets the standards of being published on renown journals.

...so for most research papers I generally read the abstract and then skip down to the Discussion section. This is so I both know what I will be reading about, obviously, but also to find out any flaws in their methodology.

I use the approach quoted above. On average, I use two days to consult sources. This time is not definite. Sometimes it could stretch to upto 3, 4 days. Other times, I might even be lost in my search for latest papers on a topic. Ain't easy, I must confess. However, there are some other strategies highlighted here that I found very useful and will surely incorporate them into my writing habit.

This is a masterpiece that will benefit both current writers and prospective STEM writers. And for this reason, I am going to RESTEEM it.

Thanks @mobbs for having the interests of others at heart.

Regards.

@eurogee of @euronation and @steemstem communities

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Thanks for the resteem!

Sometimes it could stretch to upto 3, 4 days

Especially when you lose everything without saving! I think the more we do it, the more frequently, the quicker it gets overall. It often feels more like routine for me now rather than a struggle

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Exactly. For me, it feels like a struggle. I believe with time, it will become a routine. Thanks.

Your method is a bit different from mine, but I like yours too. I usually write on a particular topic when I see something that triggers it. It takes sometimes within 6 hours to 3 days. Oh yeah, I may just be slow like that :)

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Well my 3 hour quote is probably an underestimation, I just tried to erase all the bits in between where I watch a YouTube video here, have a shower there... and other exciting parts of my day

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Oh yeah, it takes a while for a good post to be ready for posting.

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Oh yeah, it takes a
While for a good post to be
Ready for posting.

                 - greenrun


I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

Just by reading a write up, it is easy to distinguish passion from compulsion in a post, your passion for writng is quite obvious is your posts.

Now you ve done a behind the scenes of the making of your posts. It has confirmed things.
Nice one!!!

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Yep... I suppose it's more like a passion for writing, but a hunger for learning. I feel super eager to tell the world the things I know, too. 'tis a good feeling =)

AHH! Stole my idea! :D
I tip my hat to you, I wanted to do that for a while now.
Accurately showing the process of a successful writer is important to some of the mentees or anyone who wants to write.
Not all of the writers are as inquisitive about the correct process of writing and thus they don't actually know why their article lacks coherence or structure.

But, that being said, I found more good articles lately than ever before! Which makes me happy!
Good work!

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Well I'm sure you do things differently, I encourage everyone to do it! We can all learn from each others' ways =D

There are fewer total articles these days, and at the same time we're pickier with our rewards, more so than ever so I would hope improrvement has been notable!

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It really has been notable!
Maybe I will write too, I am trying to write something about statistics and population, I hope I can get something good enough, I can't write it very fast. I once wrote one, after a few hours I just scrubbed the subject for later, more time, more sleep :)
I work and write and it takes me 2 days, when I get home I just want to spend time with my girlfriend, we only see each other 3-4 hours in the evening..

Cheers!

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The glorious life of being a jobless bum has many advantages I assure you. But alas, this is soon to come to an end =(

Along with these your authority over the language English helps you a lot in making your posts perfect I guess. Whenever I write articles in the steemstem tag or any other tags, It takes hours for me to correct the errors in spellings and grammar. As you rightly said writing something just for the sake of writing will lead us to frustration. A passion towards the topic is the need of the hour to make the outcome perfect and genuine!

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Yeah it's easy for me in my language, but this is why steemSTEM has multiple language curators, and done day this may expand to even more. We encourage users to write in their own languages for this reason. Having said that, a great many of the steemSTEM community speak English as a second language, they have to become familiar with tools such as grammarly and so forth.

Passion will get you through this grinding process =P

Wow, this is just beautiful. I didn't know of Google scholar before now, thanks for sharing that. Writing my articles take nothing less than 3 days, for me to fully understand it, and then share it my great community #steemstem and #stemng.
I truly have learnt some things from this article, like to stop pressuring yourself, it takes out the love of writing. Roger my man, though no. 2 the last time I checked, is a good example of person with sustainability.

Thanks for sharing this knowledge with us
@mobbs

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I used to think Nadal was the opposite, and assumed he would completely burn out and retire quickly but... he's still going. But yeah... Both legends.

I'm glad I've introduced you to the glorious world of google scholar =)

We all have different ways we approach our writing.... Personally if am writing I don't stop till the message is passed and as am writing am reading... That way am adding more knowledge to myself

Writing one article for up to a day? 🙄.... How do you keep track, unless your writing from somewhere

Some stem articles are just so complicated you just don't know what to comment... This happens when you don't carry you reader along

Writing about things I'm legitimately interested or even passionate about is the way to go.

When you write like the above quite it flows.... There is a question I always ask myself... If it another person's post would I want to read suesa gave me that

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Some stem articles are just so complicated you just don't know what to comment... This happens when you don't carry you reader along

Yep. This is the main thing we're lacking as a community, so I'm going to keep pushing it until we see it evolve for real =)

Suesa, ever the words of wisdom =D

Thank you Mobbs, this helps a lot.

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Glad to hear it =)

Behind.....i like this....thanks

Good tips, and Federer is a fucking machine dude, I can't even imagine how pissed other top players during his era are that he lived during their time, lol. At least Nadal and others weren't the same exact age.

I'm not really sure to be honest... There was a time where it would take a solid 12 hours or a couple of days to make a post far worse than what I produce nowadays. I tend to juggle the post between other parts of my day and I don't typically start at a consistent time - though usually at night. I suppose a post that takes around 3 hours is likely going to be a pretty decent post for me.

High time for me to start pumping out articles then? ;D

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Yeah get to it! You wouldn't want to disappoint federer, would you??

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Yeah get to it! You
Wouldn't want to disappoint
Federer, would you??

                 - mobbs


I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

I am not gandalf

Oh, a myth has fallen ;)

The important point is that writing sa good well documented post takes more than 5 minutes. I must say my average time is 10-15 hours spread over 2-3 days. In my case, the loss of time is that I do like 23 things at the same time...

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Yeah the fact you manage to post at all is quite miraculous. I've been fortunate enough to have practically all the time in the world, which doesn't only provided me with lots of time, but the ability to focus knowing I don't have some other prioritized responsibility around the corner at any given time. Only a wizard could juggle this lifestyle, if you ask me... perhaps it's you...

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I am not a wizard... (@zest please tell him it is true).

It is however true that I am struggling to write one post a week at the moment. :(

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  ·  3년 전

from my personal experience @lemouth is not a wizard but rather a Hybrid Werewolf Vampire : )

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I think you described the real key to success, no only on steemit, but on life in general: Passion. If you really like what you do, and the topics you write about, research and investigation for the post won't be a chore, but a chance to learn more. And you'll always try to improve not only for your readers, but for yourself.

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You got it! And by improving, your work becomes more readable for future readers and evereything exacerbates!

A great, informative, motivating post @mobbs!

It complements an older post of mine Researching About A Post that you might also find interesting.

For me, the most important factor is the one you mention at the beginning.
The Why someone is writing is very important ; That will define the What and will guide the author to the How to do it.

Something else I also find important is the aftertaste of a post.

Are you happy with what you have written? Is there anything you would change if you had the chance?

I will be looking forward to reading more opinions on the subject!

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Cool yeah they work well together, your post is a lot more organised than my stream of thought here =)

The why is indeed the most important and you maybe noticed me hammering it in over and over these days... one day people will see the light!

  ·  3년 전

I understand you perfectly. I don't have as much time here as you, that's obvious and yet I use a lot of time in each post I write as I try to think what if I were the one reading my post, what would I like to know?
So I try to please my toughest critic (me) before posting anything.
I think that the beauty of Steemit is just that, writing things with the heart and reading what other people have to say, it's a pity that now everything is being turned to rewards only.
I think that, like me, you understand that writing is one of the most useful means of communication, because through written language we issue messages, record ideas and convey feelings and that is why I enjoy your posts so much, because I know you work in make them and that, personally, fills him up a lot.
PS: I'm still waiting for us to share songs!

Thanks for your advice on this.

I really like your gentle nudge to get less wiki copying and other less than original content and try to keep it original...

Hopefully blockchain based publishing will come to the forefront along with reviews and blockchain proposals. It would help keep people honest...

Thank you and hopefully others take note as well.

In general, I think a writer should have as many reasons for writing as possible. Writing for money on steemit is not bad because wanting money is bad, but because that's just a single reason. It's like putting all your eggs in one basket. And if that one single reason fails, the noob will feel utter disappointment and/or rage.

So, for me, for instance, learning as I write is of supreme importance. So I gain whatever happens. And learning as I read, too, not just reading to get followers. I've learned quite a lot in my time on steemit, and most of it is not even in the form of quantifiable facts, but rather just learning about other people and their interests. It's like real life. You just come out of it richer at the end, even if you haven't got a specific degree of achievement to show off. But there's facts galore, too. Seeing people actually engaged in nerdy stuff makes you more willing to come out of the nerd closet yourself and say "well, yeah, why not learn programming? it seems cool and will probably prove useful down the line".

The goal should be to make our writing anti-fragile, and that's best achieved when we become able to squeeze more than just monetary rewards out of this.

Edit: No mobdrops in a while!

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Haha I think about mobdrops often. I frequently want to make it an opinion source but I just never quite get round to it (despite having written on on mobbs just yesterday).

You're totally WRITE in saying righting needs multiple reasons, and you and I seem to share the same; money, sure. But the pursuit of knowledge is also a big one and that's something I can get really excited about. Especially because I have so few people IRL I can share things I learn without boring them.

This is a great escape of nerdery for me!

(I also need to learn programming)