Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm kind of good at science. People told me I was good at writing so I thought I would get a PhD in science that involves a lot of writing. Turns out, I'm not so good at it. Do any of you have to deal with the displeasure of technical writing? How do you overcome it?
-My Name Here
Scheduled writing time. Most people procrastinate technical writing and it becomes terrible because eventually people have to resort to binge-writing sessions. By writing a small amount each day (say 30-60 minutes), you can avoid the unpleasantness that results from technical writing tasks piling up. In my program they gave us each a copy of How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia. It's a good read, I'd recommend it to anyone struggling with academic writing.
Read a lot of technical writing. Yes, it's horrible and long and difficult to understand, but the more you read it, the more patterns you'll pick up in it, and the easier it will be to emulate it.
I remember a few semesters ago our professors told us we'd have to write our own political science research paper before we graduated. I was horrified. I had no idea where to start, what to include, how I'd make it as confusing and bewildering as the famous papers are... I was completely lost. But as we had to read more and more of those papers for my classes, and as we discussed them in detail and really tried to understand them, I found the outline and patterns much easier to understand. Now I don't see a political science paper as one big horrifying paper—rather, I see it as a bunch of smaller, manageable parts that are put together.
Practicing will also help. Get a professor or experienced friend to give you feedback on your writing. Professors are especially good at this, because they've had a ton of experience with reading and writing this stuff and have probably been in your exact shoes before. The more you do it, the easier it'll become.
-guppy of doom
Dear Maxwell's New Hieroglyphs,
I like writing. I enjoy it.
To graduate, I had to write a senior thesis on my physics research.
I did not like it.
I understood how to do it. It wasn't too hard to do it.
But I hated it.
In fact, rescinding my statement, it was hard to do, not because of the skill it required, but because of the motivation I had to muster to get it done. Recently I had to drink a whole gallon of nasty medicine, and now that I think of it, writing chunks of my senior thesis feels a lot like downing those revolting glasses of liquid.
Here's my advice: organize the heck out of your writing. Outline. Then do a sentence outline. Then do a paragraph outline. Maybe this process drives you insane; I know it drives me insane. At the same time, it makes it somewhat easier/more manageable.
Good luck to you.
For my job over the summer, I ended up writing an extensive documentation covering everything my team and I had done for this job. It was not fun. In fact, the only reason I was able to get myself to do was because I needed the money, and there was literally nothing else to do the last couple weeks, because we'd already accomplished the project we'd set out to do.
I'm not sure if there's a way to get oneself to actually enjoy technical writing. However, I discovered over the summer that writing in an environment with other people whom you can talk to to break the monotony helps a lot, as does having set times built into your schedule where you force yourself to buckle down and write.