From Sofia Fortunato

Scientist, writer, artist and Seaside Writing guide

What is the picture you get in your head when you think about your favourite childhood author while writing? Perhaps, you imagine this person sitting in front of a computer all day (or a typing machine depending of you age), while sipping a cup of tea. S/he types constantly because words flow like a stream. S/he easily puts together a manuscript until reaching the end. S/he is happy and cheerful all the time because writing is an easy task. Life is wonderful!

Well, let me tell you that things are probably more like this for a writer. S/he probably spends months or years writing this very special manuscript. Sometimes, s/he sweats, and struggles while writing. S/he has panic attacks from time to time during the process. S/he feels to giving up. After months, and sipping thousands of cups of tea, the manuscript is finally ready, but wait! Not quite. There would be a lot of editing, and s/he needs to find a publisher. S/he get some rejections but keeps trying. Finally, after a long, long, long, and exhausting process, the manuscript is finally accepted. The book is out, ready to be read. S/he buys a bottle of Champaign, opens it and pop! Time to celebrate.

Does this process sound familiar to you? It should, because, scientist are also writers. Scientist write for a living. Writing is an important and essential part of every scientist. It is a vital process for science communication. Writing is fundamental not only for getting your sciences published, but also for educating others.

But writing can become a difficult task. The common problems many writers face is that they don’t know where to start? Or lack the ability to put words together the correct way. Others can’t find time for writing and when they do, lack discipline to continue, while others don’t feel confidence enough while writing. Whatever your situation is, this special session of seaside writing will guide you through your writing process.

Why writing by the sea?

Do you know I wrote my PhD thesis draft by the sea, during a road trip in Western Australia? I only used a notebook and a pen. I had a storm of words on my head I couldn’t get out. Writing by the sea allowed me to clear my thoughts and summarised all the work I did during my Ph.D. Since then, I discovered the power of writing with pen in hand and a notebook and by the sea. Call me old fashion, but I believe that this old way helps us to clear our minds. I also help us to avoid the distracted (evil) sources appearing out of our computers. Besides, I like being outdoors. I am not an office person. I found the Seaside writing group last year when I started writing my first young adult novel about the ocean. I joined the group because I needed other ways to write about science. The writing prompts during seaside writing helped me uncover my imagination and allowed me to discover a new writing identity. I became a creative writer. I devoured many books on creative writing and did many courses. Then, I realised we can also use creative writing for any form of scientific writing. This inspired me to design a series of writing prompts to help scientist with their writing process.

What is creative writing? A friend scientist asked me the other day. Well, creative writing is an art form. It is like the essential toolkit fiction writers use to tell stories. Creative writing is as simple as creating a story, and not necessary or exclusively for creating the next novella. You can use creative writing for science communication, for writing a blog, for a presentation or even for writing a grant application.

What do we do during Seaside writing? We sit by the sea in a magic mat, at the strand to be precise, in a relaxing environment, and while listening to the sound of the waves, we write. We first work on a writing prompt, using writing exercises inspired by creative writers. These exercises are designed to help you with many aspect of the writing process such as finding your voice, getting started, and creativity. After we finish, we work on our own projects for about 40 min. The seaside writing facilitator will be there for guidance.

So why not disconnecting from the computer, get out of the office and come over to seaside science writing?

Program (tentative) Week 1: “S” for Seaside Writing, start, story and space. In this week, we will work on an exercise prompt design to help you find ways to get started. We will talk about what is your story and the importance of making your own personal space for writing.

Week 2: “C” is for Creativity and consistency. This week we will have some fun learning how to use storytelling plots to write a grant application. We will also discuss the importance of creating your own routines to keep your writing flowing.

Week 3: “I” for Imagination and Identity. The Big “I” for writers. Any kind of writing whether non-fiction or fiction requires imagination. We will work on exercises design to uncover your imagination and how that call help you to target different audiences. We will discuss the importance of finding your own voice as a writer.

Week 4: “I” for Inspiration and Introspection. The Big “I” for writers. We will discuss inspiration vs motivation and the importance of keeping ourselves inspired during our writing process.


About Sofia

I am a person who likes wearing many hats. I have a very dynamic and versatile lifestyle. I am a biologist, writer and artist. I studied in Norway where I obtained two of my degrees, a MSc in Microbiology and Ph.D. in Evolutionary biology, both at the University of Bergen. I am a former researcher at the ARC Centre for coral reef studies at James Cook University. I have published eight scientific papers, one of them as a first author in Nature. I am Venezuelan -Australian. I am inspired by the ocean, coral reefs and my children. I am a swimmer and teach swimming. I also love painting and photography. I am a seaside writer guide, a writer collaborator of the Sci-Art magazine and the creator of a project called Outdoor Hobbits.

Oh! I almost forgot, I write every day and I love it!


Photo by Sofia Fortunato