The Struggle Between Art And Science

There are two of me. One loves the sciences like clinical research and public health. The other part loves and craves the arts, like literature, poetry, photography and knitting. I feel like they were both nurtured till I was 16. The scientist was nurtured from then onwards but the artist was suppressed. I gradually went from writing weekly poems and short stories which occasionally made its way to the school’s magazine to writing nothing.

As a scientist, I have been taught to be concrete and transparent. My mentors would say -

“Express yourself in as few words as possible. Avoid the drama, just give us facts”.

When I started writing research manuscripts, I got feedbacks like -

“This reads like a novel but we don’t want things like that.”
“The journals don’t want to read these flowery words.”
“If you want to be successful at writing research manuscripts, write like a scientist.”

I was not sure of what any of it meant. I had learned to write as a literature student. You think of your main theme, break them down into sub-themes for different paragraphs and write. I was using these same principles for my research papers but I apparently wasn’t doing something right. I read manuscripts from top publications and tried to make my writing read like them. I started getting better feedback. My writing was getting better. My first manuscript was accepted for publication, then my second and so on.

A few years ago, I met an old lady in the hospital waiting for her son to get a procedure done. I had also just had a procedure done on my tooth. I did more listening than talking. She went on to share her story with me. For the first time in five years, I had the urge to write something that had nothing to do with science. The words came to life on paper, the sentences flowed, or so I thought. When I was done, it just did not read the way I wanted it to. Poems had always been my safety net. I attempted to write a poem but I hit a road block. It dawned on me that while striving to excel at scientific writing, I had very effectively suppressed whatever creative writing tendencies I had.

I have come to realize that scientific writing and creative writing are not mutually exclusive. It is more about tailoring your writing to suit your target audience. The researcher in me is calm and controlled. The writer in me is adventurous and loves to explore. I intermittently have a struggle between these two because they think and approach issues differently. It has been a little over three years since I had that somewhat eye-opening conversation with the old lady. With each passing year, I delve a little more into creative writing. I rediscover myself. I am very far from where I want to be with my writing but I am done suppressing anything. I intend to embrace both aspects.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if and how you have overcome roadblocks with regards to your writing. If you liked what you just read please click the heart below and share.You can also visit my other home @ scoscomd.com

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