One reason government biologists struggle to write is because they’re faced with large writing projects that seem impossible to wrap their minds around. And because the project as a whole is just too big, too scary, too overwhelming, the tendency is to put it out of one’s mind completely. It’s akin to a fight or flight response.
Of course we all know how that compounds the problem. The more you put it off, the more the pressure builds, the scarier the project becomes. The more you put it off, the more the pressure builds, the scarier the project becomes, etc., etc., etc.,
The typical government biologist when faced with writing a lengthy document might think about the project upwards of a dozen times a day. Those thoughts are usually accompanied by feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, a tightening of the jaw, a tensing of the muscles in the neck, and a constricting of the gut. All of this reduces air flow to the brain and effectively cuts off any productive thought process that could occur about the actual writing of the document.
So the next time you think about that huge writing project that you’ve been putting off, allow your hands to rest loosely on your thighs, palms up. Lower your shoulder blades. Close your eyes. And breathe in deeply through your nose.
Count to four. And exhale.
Now, turn your palms down so that they’re touching your thighs. Think about one species or habitat that is affected by this document. How would you describe it?
Allow that description to wander through your brain. Concentrate on the words and phrases that come to your mind.
If you start thinking about deadlines, emails, your supervisor, or other people involved in the project, return to step one. Inhale.
Continue until you have one phrase that you can hold onto.
Write it down.
Congratulations! You just started that big writing project you’ve been putting off for however long.
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