In this episode of R, D and the Inbetweens I am talking to Dr. Simon Clark - University of Exeter PhD graduate, Youtuber and author of Firmament: The Hidden Science of Weather, Climate Change and the Air That Surrounds Us.

Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

Transcript

1
00:00:09,220 --> 00:00:13,600
Hello and welcome to R, D and the in-betweens.

2
00:00:13,600 --> 00:00:26,200
I'm your host, Kelly Preece, and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researchers development and everything in between.

3
00:00:26,200 --> 00:00:36,190
, and welcome to the latest episode of R&D in the In-betweens.

4
00:00:36,190 --> 00:00:42,460
I'm your host, Kelly Preece, and in this episode, I'm going to be talking to one of the University of Exeter's doctoral graduates,

5
00:00:42,460 --> 00:00:50,560
Dr Simon Clarke, about his experience setting up a wildly successful YouTube channel during his PhD.

6
00:00:50,560 --> 00:00:58,900
And all of the science communication work he's gone on to do afterwards, and in particular, the publication of his first book Firmament.

7
00:00:58,900 --> 00:01:06,610
So my name is Simon Clarke. I am a full time professional nerd, and I mostly express that through making YouTube videos.

8
00:01:06,610 --> 00:01:11,690
So I have been running a YouTube channel about various topics in science, mostly Earth science,

9
00:01:11,690 --> 00:01:17,500
particular focus on climate change since I graduated with my Ph.D. in 2018.

10
00:01:17,500 --> 00:01:24,310
I had to think that because it's been actually quite a few years and I also do a variety of other things, I do a bit of livestreaming on Twitch.

11
00:01:24,310 --> 00:01:31,630
I have a podcast and recently I wrote a book called Firmament, which is an introduction to and history of atmospheric science.

12
00:01:31,630 --> 00:01:37,450
I guess the starting point for me is about how you became interested in what led you to

13
00:01:37,450 --> 00:01:43,660
become a professional nerd and particularly in times of kind of science communication.

14
00:01:43,660 --> 00:01:49,940
What was the route that takes you from kind of being a researcher and doing a Ph.D. to what you're doing now?

15
00:01:49,940 --> 00:01:52,180
How did that? How did that evolve?

16
00:01:52,180 --> 00:02:01,900
Well, it's something that sort of spon kind of spontaneously happened over a long period of time in that I so when I was a kid,

17
00:02:01,900 --> 00:02:07,180
I used to want to be a film director like I was obsessed with cinema and the moving image and stuff like that.

18
00:02:07,180 --> 00:02:12,280
And so I ended up doing science because that was sort of what I felt like was a

19
00:02:12,280 --> 00:02:18,670
responsible thing to do societally and financially and ended up doing my undergrad.

20
00:02:18,670 --> 00:02:22,630
And did my PhD? But when I was in my undergrad, I had this opportunity.

21
00:02:22,630 --> 00:02:29,740
I thought to make video content that would be worthwhile because I was a state school kid.

22
00:02:29,740 --> 00:02:35,800
I went to a comprehensive school just outside Bristol, and when I applied to study physics at Oxford,

23
00:02:35,800 --> 00:02:41,410
I was the only no one from my school had ever done that before. No one had ever gone to Oxford to study physics.

24
00:02:41,410 --> 00:02:45,610
And so I had loads of questions about how the process works.

25
00:02:45,610 --> 00:02:52,120
You know, what were the interviews like? Did you have to speak Latin to get in? Did you have to have a parent who'd been to Oxford to go there?

26
00:02:52,120 --> 00:02:57,910
And I just didn't know, you know, these are for someone who's been there. These are silly questions, but I didn't know any better.

27
00:02:57,910 --> 00:03:08,680
So when I when I got in, I realised that I had something of a valuable perspective as somebody who could help the student I was a year ago.

28
00:03:08,680 --> 00:03:13,090
So when I spent a term at Oxford and I'd seen what life was like,

29
00:03:13,090 --> 00:03:20,140
and I'd also seen the admissions process from the other side of the coin, I just made one video about what that was like.

30
00:03:20,140 --> 00:03:25,930
You know, what life is like in Oxford and advice to people who were applying. And that was I thought I'd be done.

31
00:03:25,930 --> 00:03:32,260
And then it hit the big time and it got like a hundred views, and I thought that maybe I could do another one because I've lots of people in the comments.

32
00:03:32,260 --> 00:03:38,950
You could, you know who had other questions. So I did another video a couple of months later and then another one and another one,

33
00:03:38,950 --> 00:03:44,410
and I gradually fell into this thing about just these sorts of becoming the internet version of a of a

34
00:03:44,410 --> 00:03:51,730
movie director in in that I was making my own short films and it was something that I carried on in the.

35
00:03:51,730 --> 00:03:57,760
And I eventually ended up doing a series where I was vlogging my life as a Ph.D. student,

36
00:03:57,760 --> 00:04:05,710
and that was something that was very deliberately as a an exercise in science communication and in outreach.

37
00:04:05,710 --> 00:04:08,110
It was trying to show what the process of doing a PhD was like,

38
00:04:08,110 --> 00:04:13,270
but also what I was doing in my research and sort of telling people about the field that I was really interested in.

39
00:04:13,270 --> 00:04:18,850
And that got to the point where towards the basically in the final year of the Ph.D.,

40
00:04:18,850 --> 00:04:26,980
I sort of weighed up my options and thought to myself, You know, I think I could do this as a full time thing.

41
00:04:26,980 --> 00:04:32,740
It wasn't at the point where financially that was anywhere near possible. Like, I was not earning very much at all then.

42
00:04:32,740 --> 00:04:37,990
But I thought that with a with a sort of a year of concerted effort and a little bit of luck,

43
00:04:37,990 --> 00:04:43,900
I could maybe do this as a job and it wasn't so much a deliberate choice that I've made

44
00:04:43,900 --> 00:04:49,390
thinking it would be successful as an opportunity that I thought I would regret not taking.

45
00:04:49,390 --> 00:04:55,960
So I ended up doing it, you know, giving it a go after the Ph.D. and ended up, you know, where I am now.

46
00:04:55,960 --> 00:05:00,590
But in terms of why I didn't want to stay in academia and I wanted to do that.

47
00:05:00,590 --> 00:05:08,780
Sci comm media production, basically, I thought I didn't have necessarily the best time in my Ph.D.,

48
00:05:08,780 --> 00:05:14,060
I didn't have the best working relationship with my supervisor because it's the first time

49
00:05:14,060 --> 00:05:18,200
I did a Ph.D. I didn't really know what that relationship was supposed to look like.

50
00:05:18,200 --> 00:05:25,430
And so we didn't, you know, get publications out. We basically had to scrape together a thesis at the end of the process.

51
00:05:25,430 --> 00:05:26,630
There was enough science that had been done,

52
00:05:26,630 --> 00:05:33,650
but it was just so disjointed and all over the place and stop start that we sort of had to compile it all together into a thesis at the end.

53
00:05:33,650 --> 00:05:36,410
But that meant that I felt whether this was accurate or not.

54
00:05:36,410 --> 00:05:41,660
But I felt at the time that I didn't have the option to go into academia because I didn't have those publications.

55
00:05:41,660 --> 00:05:45,170
But more than that, I just wasn't really having a good time.

56
00:05:45,170 --> 00:05:51,470
And it wasn't wasn't something that I was passionate about doing anymore, whereas the video stuff I was,

57
00:05:51,470 --> 00:05:57,470
I was very happily staying up until one or two in the morning editing videos, and it was something that I could really see myself doing.

58
00:05:57,470 --> 00:06:05,300
And I loved that process of coming up with an idea and crafting it and making it your own video And in that video,

59
00:06:05,300 --> 00:06:09,290
doing some teaching, because that's that's fundamentally sort of how I think about my content.

60
00:06:09,290 --> 00:06:14,660
You've got a learning objective. You have some educational objective that you want to try and achieve,

61
00:06:14,660 --> 00:06:19,370
and you craft a video to try and maximise the probability of your audience reaching that objective.

62
00:06:19,370 --> 00:06:23,820
And that's a process that I really enjoyed then and I still enjoy doing now.

63
00:06:23,820 --> 00:06:27,860
So, you know, I have no plans to stop doing this. Amazing.

64
00:06:27,860 --> 00:06:32,780
And I think it's it's and I find this with a lot of people.

65
00:06:32,780 --> 00:06:41,020
I talk to about what they've gone on to do after PhDs or research degrees is there's this kind of.

66
00:06:41,020 --> 00:06:47,690
Accidental, or is this kind of serendipity, I guess, of following various interests,

67
00:06:47,690 --> 00:06:52,420
various parts of their lives and then that kind of coalescing into a career,

68
00:06:52,420 --> 00:06:58,750
which it's done really beautifully for you. it's something that my dad calls proactive serendipity.

69
00:06:58,750 --> 00:07:03,670
Oh, I like that where you're, you know, it's very lucky that I've been in this position,

70
00:07:03,670 --> 00:07:07,000
but I was only able to be lucky because I've put sort of all of the work in before,

71
00:07:07,000 --> 00:07:12,460
and I've made hundreds and hundreds of videos before I turned full time, so I had the skills built up.

72
00:07:12,460 --> 00:07:15,560
But you know, at the end of the day, it still takes.

73
00:07:15,560 --> 00:07:20,050
It's the whole 99 percent perspiration 1% inspiration thing like it's it's lots and lots of work,

74
00:07:20,050 --> 00:07:24,490
but you do need that break that you do that that bit of luck in order to be successful.

75
00:07:24,490 --> 00:07:29,830
And that's the bit that you just have to try and maximise the probability of, but is out of your control.

76
00:07:29,830 --> 00:07:36,650
So thinking about kind of. You know, you you you said when you were kind of in the final year,

77
00:07:36,650 --> 00:07:41,720
you were making a little kind of a little bit of money from it and not anything kind of, you know, to live on or anything.

78
00:07:41,720 --> 00:07:50,870
But how how did you go about thinking and turning that into effectively a business and a job for yourself?

79
00:07:50,870 --> 00:07:56,840
I mean, I'm not the kind of kid who who grew up wanting to be a CEO.

80
00:07:56,840 --> 00:08:02,000
I was very I was on. I very much am not still business oriented.

81
00:08:02,000 --> 00:08:05,780
So I mean, I personally, my personal opinion is there are two kinds of YouTubers.

82
00:08:05,780 --> 00:08:12,170
There are those who run a business and it happens to be making videos and there are those who make videos and they happen upon it as a business.

83
00:08:12,170 --> 00:08:13,340
And I'm definitely the latter.

84
00:08:13,340 --> 00:08:19,370
I am somebody who just made the content that I thought was interesting and trusted that if I thought it was good enough,

85
00:08:19,370 --> 00:08:24,800
other people would think it was good. And that was something that, you know, I just sort of put all my eggs in that basket, so to speak.

86
00:08:24,800 --> 00:08:29,030
And after I finished the PhD, I was like, Right, what are the topics that I find cool?

87
00:08:29,030 --> 00:08:36,980
What are these? What stories that I can tell? And I suppose just blindly trusted that that would eventually turn itself into a job.

88
00:08:36,980 --> 00:08:44,720
And we know that that I think I have been very lucky, but I think also that that is a general something that is true in life,

89
00:08:44,720 --> 00:08:48,050
that if you make stuff that's good, people will come to you.

90
00:08:48,050 --> 00:08:51,110
You don't necessarily have to do all of the the legwork yourself.

91
00:08:51,110 --> 00:08:57,860
You just have to make something that's good and get it out there and eventually think, you know, it may take a while,

92
00:08:57,860 --> 00:09:03,140
but eventually it does get to that audience and that audience then becomes something that you can turn into a business.

93
00:09:03,140 --> 00:09:09,230
But the process that last step is something that has happened almost entirely bungled through.

94
00:09:09,230 --> 00:09:11,760
I'm like the Mr Bean of the business world.

95
00:09:11,760 --> 00:09:20,380
It's the things that sort of happened to me, and I've been very lucky, but I have very little kind of wilful kind of agency over it.

96
00:09:20,380 --> 00:09:24,460
Yeah, Mr Bean of the business world is quite quite an image.

97
00:09:24,460 --> 00:09:33,010
So one one of the reasons why I wanted to have a chat with you is about the book that you've written Firmament.

98
00:09:33,010 --> 00:09:37,100
Can you tell me a bit about how

99
00:09:37,100 --> 00:09:44,600
I mean, what the book is about, but also how it came about the for you to write the book, how that opportunity presented itself.

100
00:09:44,600 --> 00:09:48,220
So I in terms of what the book's about first.

101
00:09:48,220 --> 00:09:50,810
So. So the book is it's as I said earlier,

102
00:09:50,810 --> 00:09:56,270
it's an introduction to and it's a history of atmospheric science and those two sort of key components of it, 50 50.

103
00:09:56,270 --> 00:10:03,350
Because when you're learning about atmospheric science in an undergrad or in Ph.D., the emphasis is very much on.

104
00:10:03,350 --> 00:10:07,100
Here are the equations. Here's how you apply them go.

105
00:10:07,100 --> 00:10:13,370
There's there's there's very little historical context and often actually very little scientific context to,

106
00:10:13,370 --> 00:10:16,790
you know, where these things come from, where do these expressions come from?

107
00:10:16,790 --> 00:10:22,190
And when I was an undergrad, my favourite lecture series was Thermal Physics, taught by Stephen Blundell.

108
00:10:22,190 --> 00:10:26,300
And there is one of the reasons it was my favourite, apart from the fact that he was an amazing lecturer,

109
00:10:26,300 --> 00:10:30,380
was that he went on these little historical asides and he filled in that context.

110
00:10:30,380 --> 00:10:33,470
And I don't if it was just me, hopefully not.

111
00:10:33,470 --> 00:10:41,600
But I found that knowing that historical and scientific context to why an expression is the way it is and how we came to know this stuff,

112
00:10:41,600 --> 00:10:45,320
how we know what we know was really useful and really interesting.

113
00:10:45,320 --> 00:10:51,830
So when I was when I sort of sat down to work out, you know, if if I were to write a book, what would I want it to be about?

114
00:10:51,830 --> 00:10:53,810
That was very much at the forefront of my mind,

115
00:10:53,810 --> 00:10:59,900
and I designed it to be similar to books that I read when I was in sort of sixth form, an undergraduate.

116
00:10:59,900 --> 00:11:08,720
So books like in such a Schrodinger's Cats or the Elegant Universe, or, you know, if you want to get grandiose like a brief history of time.

117
00:11:08,720 --> 00:11:16,910
So something that gets you into interested in a subject but is not necessarily very detailed in terms of the the academic detail.

118
00:11:16,910 --> 00:11:23,780
There's not very many equations, for example, in it, but it's something that sparks your interests or sparks your passion and provides that

119
00:11:23,780 --> 00:11:30,580
historical context because those books exist for physics and chemistry and for biology.

120
00:11:30,580 --> 00:11:36,890
But as far as I could tell, nothing existed for the atmosphere, meaning specifically the atmosphere,

121
00:11:36,890 --> 00:11:42,740
not just weather or not this climate, because there were a couple of books, have been written as sort of a historical introduction to climate change,

122
00:11:42,740 --> 00:11:48,020
like the discovery of global warming by Spencer Weart was quite a big sort of influence on me.

123
00:11:48,020 --> 00:11:51,890
But the atmosphere, specifically the physical system, how we, how we discovered it,

124
00:11:51,890 --> 00:11:55,700
how we understand it, and sort of how that understanding has evolved over time.

125
00:11:55,700 --> 00:11:58,670
Just nobody seemed to have written about for that audience before.

126
00:11:58,670 --> 00:12:04,250
So that was my my goal was to write a personal statement book that kids will say they've read on their personal statement.

127
00:12:04,250 --> 00:12:11,600
Hopefully they have actually read it. And then in terms of how it came to be, I like I said, I sat down and sort of worked out.

128
00:12:11,600 --> 00:12:14,030
If I were to write a book, what would it be about?

129
00:12:14,030 --> 00:12:22,720
And I, I sort of kind of wrote, I suppose, a rough book proposal in it mentally, and I think I must have written it down somewhere that I haven't.

130
00:12:22,720 --> 00:12:27,200
I wish I could find that original note, and I set it as a goal of mine.

131
00:12:27,200 --> 00:12:32,180
I wanted to write this book and I again the whole proactive serendipitity thing.

132
00:12:32,180 --> 00:12:39,290
I started a book series on my YouTube. I started a series of videos where I talked about books and reviewed what I was reading and suggested

133
00:12:39,290 --> 00:12:46,910
books for people with the explicit intent intention of that being something that a publisher would find.

134
00:12:46,910 --> 00:12:52,760
See me, see my social media profile and think, Oh, this guy's a science person who knows about books and seems to know what they're talking about.

135
00:12:52,760 --> 00:12:59,810
Maybe they should write a book and that that was a very explicit goal in my head of having a book playlist on my channel.

136
00:12:59,810 --> 00:13:05,750
And eventually, that was somewhat unbelievably one of my plans actually works,

137
00:13:05,750 --> 00:13:09,980
and I had an email from a publisher, Hodder and Stoughton, and they asked me to come in

138
00:13:09,980 --> 00:13:11,030
And basically, you know,

139
00:13:11,030 --> 00:13:21,830
if I had any ideas for book and I had that proposal basically ready and almost completely unchanged is what we ended up publishing.

140
00:13:21,830 --> 00:13:32,000
That's phenomenal, and I think you know that. You know, that proactive serendipity of going this, this is something that I would like to do this,

141
00:13:32,000 --> 00:13:37,550
this is how I can use the work that I'm doing and the platform that I have to perhaps.

142
00:13:37,550 --> 00:13:45,650
Work towards that. Yeah. Maximise the chance of having luck happened to you in a very wishy washy way.

143
00:13:45,650 --> 00:13:50,840
Yeah, but it's it's actually true. I was quite interested in what you were saying about the history and the science,

144
00:13:50,840 --> 00:13:56,870
but also kind of thinking about some of the the public speaking training and work that i've done,

145
00:13:56,870 --> 00:14:01,520
particularly with scientists where we're talking about kind of public engagement or science communication.

146
00:14:01,520 --> 00:14:10,070
And this there's always this real kind of like really intense fear of dumbing the science down for a lay audience.

147
00:14:10,070 --> 00:14:18,020
And I wondered if you could say a little bit about kind of what it was like writing or, you know, just generally, obviously the science communication,

148
00:14:18,020 --> 00:14:22,550
what you've done about your experience as a as a researcher who's someone who's got that kind of

149
00:14:22,550 --> 00:14:29,990
scientific background doing the more quote unquote popular science or popular communication?

150
00:14:29,990 --> 00:14:37,340
It's tough at the fundamental problem of science. Communication is that balance between content,

151
00:14:37,340 --> 00:14:42,590
meaning having something that is scientifically accurate to the best of our knowledge and is

152
00:14:42,590 --> 00:14:49,370
truthful and weaving a story that people actually wants to listen to or read about or watch.

153
00:14:49,370 --> 00:14:55,970
Because, you know, a perfectly just just reading the IPCC report for the context of climate change, for example,

154
00:14:55,970 --> 00:15:00,860
would probably be a video that I could make that would be the most accurate thing I could possibly produce.

155
00:15:00,860 --> 00:15:05,240
But the problem with that would be nobody would watch it, but maybe some people would.

156
00:15:05,240 --> 00:15:12,260
I don't know. Maybe I could do an ASMR reading of the IPCC report just to have the maximum number of acronyms in the title

157
00:15:12,260 --> 00:15:18,320
But it's that's the fundamental challenge, really, and it's something that I've oscillated on over the years,

158
00:15:18,320 --> 00:15:24,320
I think, and what I've eventually hit on is you have to pick your battles.

159
00:15:24,320 --> 00:15:28,280
And by that, I mean, you have to pick a level of science capital.

160
00:15:28,280 --> 00:15:35,660
So you know, this concept of how into science a person is whether that's through their interest, you know,

161
00:15:35,660 --> 00:15:40,970
in terms of podcasts or videos or whatever it is, but also, you know, degrees that they have and things like that.

162
00:15:40,970 --> 00:15:45,200
And I delight in making stuff for a high science capital audience.

163
00:15:45,200 --> 00:15:49,190
So when I give talks at universities, I can go into, here's this equation I derive.

164
00:15:49,190 --> 00:15:52,430
Let's talk about all the different components and what they mean, and this is applying it to this data.

165
00:15:52,430 --> 00:15:56,630
And this is why this data comes from and these are the problems with it and the assumptions we make and all this kind of stuff.

166
00:15:56,630 --> 00:16:00,440
That's great. I love doing that. But at the same time,

167
00:16:00,440 --> 00:16:10,910
I recognise that aiming for that high science capital audience is aiming for a minuscule component of the people that you could be reaching with.

168
00:16:10,910 --> 00:16:17,450
Second. And furthermore, that the goal of talking to them is to raise their science capital.

169
00:16:17,450 --> 00:16:22,790
But you're only going to raise it by a tiny proportion. It's going to be the thinnest sliver on the top of that.

170
00:16:22,790 --> 00:16:25,040
That science capital on the bar graph.

171
00:16:25,040 --> 00:16:34,460
Whereas if you aim for a lower science capital audience, you can do more societal good and raise their science capital by far larger proportional.

172
00:16:34,460 --> 00:16:44,810
And honestly, I think absolute value. And so when I am writing stuff, whether that's the book or whether it's videos, I have this audience in mind.

173
00:16:44,810 --> 00:16:50,000
I sort of have this, this learning objective in mind of who needs to know this?

174
00:16:50,000 --> 00:16:55,490
And, you know, what do they need to learn? And therefore, what level do I need to pitch this at?

175
00:16:55,490 --> 00:16:59,870
And once I've done that, in a way, the script kind of writes itself.

176
00:16:59,870 --> 00:17:02,090
I don't know if this is because of my training as a physicist,

177
00:17:02,090 --> 00:17:08,270
but that the whole fundamental thing with physics is you neglect information in order to make a system solvable,

178
00:17:08,270 --> 00:17:12,290
like you make assumptions about there being no resistance or friction or whatever it is.

179
00:17:12,290 --> 00:17:16,580
Radial symmetry in order to be able to write an equation that describes what's going on,

180
00:17:16,580 --> 00:17:22,130
and I feel like that happens with me when I'm writing scripts for for for relatively low science

181
00:17:22,130 --> 00:17:29,030
capital audience in that it forces you to strip down to what is the core essential of this topic.

182
00:17:29,030 --> 00:17:35,190
And once you've got that? Making sure that you're not saying anything that actually contradicts the broader picture,

183
00:17:35,190 --> 00:17:42,150
are you saying anything that if you fill in all those other extraneous details and you put air friction resistance and friction back in?

184
00:17:42,150 --> 00:17:47,280
Are you still correct? And that is really the fundamental problem.

185
00:17:47,280 --> 00:17:54,900
It's trying to render something down as simply as possible without making sure that you're not contradicting anything in the broader picture.

186
00:17:54,900 --> 00:17:59,880
And the videos, I felt like I've got that down to a reasonable extent.

187
00:17:59,880 --> 00:18:06,870
Now I think I'm OK at that with with the book, the benefit was that I had much, much more time to work on it,

188
00:18:06,870 --> 00:18:14,160
like in the writing process for a YouTube video is typically about a week, whereas, you know, the book was about 18 months to two years.

189
00:18:14,160 --> 00:18:21,780
And so it really allowed you to write something and stew and look at it as like, OK, now how would a hydrological researcher look at this paragraph?

190
00:18:21,780 --> 00:18:28,020
What would they say and thinking, Oh, actually, yeah, when you look at it from that angle that that particular adjective is probably not quite right,

191
00:18:28,020 --> 00:18:33,270
let's change that to be, you know, rather than significant use substantial or something like that.

192
00:18:33,270 --> 00:18:43,440
So it's something that definitely gets easier the longer you do it, but also gets easier, the more time you have to do it for a given thing.

193
00:18:43,440 --> 00:18:49,130
Yeah. So on that on that note about the kind of the time and the process of writing the book,

194
00:18:49,130 --> 00:18:55,920
you said that Hodder and Stoughton got in touch with you through the YouTube series and

195
00:18:55,920 --> 00:18:59,370
what you went for a meeting and you had you had kind of a proposal already.

196
00:18:59,370 --> 00:19:06,960
Can you can you talk a little bit about kind of the process of, I guess, agreeing and doing a formal proposal to write the book?

197
00:19:06,960 --> 00:19:12,690
And then also like the big question of what is it like to write a book?

198
00:19:12,690 --> 00:19:16,260
Well, the big question, well, I mean, I'm like, OK, right, that's OK for you, those in order.

199
00:19:16,260 --> 00:19:22,260
So in terms of I went into their offices in London and I met up with my editor iIan Wong who was

200
00:19:22,260 --> 00:19:27,000
very enthusiastic and he knew me from my videos and was obviously very keen to work together.

201
00:19:27,000 --> 00:19:31,620
And he basically said, Have you got any ideas? And I I I tried to low roll.

202
00:19:31,620 --> 00:19:36,660
There's this idea that I've been so stewing for years and years and sort of pitched that.

203
00:19:36,660 --> 00:19:43,920
And basically, we agreed on the day that this is something that's interesting, and I'm pretty sure the publisher would like to go through with this.

204
00:19:43,920 --> 00:19:46,260
What? So I'll send you an email with all the details.

205
00:19:46,260 --> 00:19:52,470
And then I go back home and then got an email from Ian saying, Right, I want you to fill out a proposal and what that is.

206
00:19:52,470 --> 00:19:57,570
And he sort of walked me through and it was basically saying to the publisher, who I am,

207
00:19:57,570 --> 00:20:03,780
why I should be trusted to write a book, what my credentials, why I think people would be interested in this topic.

208
00:20:03,780 --> 00:20:07,170
You know, what's the selling points of the book? And then a writing sample.

209
00:20:07,170 --> 00:20:13,530
So basically, what ended up actually being, I think, almost entirely the introduction chapter of the book.

210
00:20:13,530 --> 00:20:20,850
So it was a couple of thousand words like not very many that allowed them to see what my authorial voice was like.

211
00:20:20,850 --> 00:20:30,660
And I remember I so clearly remember writing that in a Wetherspoons in Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire, which is where I lived at the time.

212
00:20:30,660 --> 00:20:32,350
I used to go into towns like do a bit of work,

213
00:20:32,350 --> 00:20:39,510
and there's an image of me with a pint of Diet Coke in the middle of the day and this almost empty Wetherspoons writing this book proposal,

214
00:20:39,510 --> 00:20:41,790
which I eventually finished and sent over.

215
00:20:41,790 --> 00:20:47,250
And there's a brief period of deliberation, like a couple of days and they got back together like, great, we want to green light it.

216
00:20:47,250 --> 00:20:53,190
We're noe going to talk about contracts. And at that point, I realised I probably should have should get myself a literary agent.

217
00:20:53,190 --> 00:21:03,720
And I just so happened to have a friend of mine who had just written a book and you know, it was Andrew Steele.

218
00:21:03,720 --> 00:21:05,370
I should probably give him a shout out, actually.

219
00:21:05,370 --> 00:21:12,660
Andrew Steele, who wrote a book called Ageless about the Science of Ageing, and he had a literary agent that heintroduced me to.

220
00:21:12,660 --> 00:21:16,890
And basically, he liked the sound of the project as well. So he agreed to represent me.

221
00:21:16,890 --> 00:21:22,680
And then he spoke to the publishers and we got a contracts hashed out, which we then signed.

222
00:21:22,680 --> 00:21:26,340
And it was basically then right? You've got a year.

223
00:21:26,340 --> 00:21:34,170
I think it was. It wasn't exactly. It was about a year to write this project and that was the start of 2020.

224
00:21:34,170 --> 00:21:38,880
And then everything went tits up and the whole plan.

225
00:21:38,880 --> 00:21:46,530
What a time to start? Yeah, it really was. And especially because I got covid quite early on in the pandemic in the first couple of months.

226
00:21:46,530 --> 00:21:50,880
So I immediately I was like, right, I'm like a month behind already.

227
00:21:50,880 --> 00:21:55,140
I think we're going to need to realistically change this delivery date.

228
00:21:55,140 --> 00:22:01,290
And and also, it changed how I wanted to write the book because originally my plan was to go to

229
00:22:01,290 --> 00:22:04,920
the Met Office and talk to people in the archives and feature interviews with

230
00:22:04,920 --> 00:22:09,870
people and actually put myself into the book a little bit more a bit like how Naomi

231
00:22:09,870 --> 00:22:14,310
Klein does this and some of her her works and sort of be a character as it were.

232
00:22:14,310 --> 00:22:18,720
And that just was not going to happen because travel was just going to be totally impossible.

233
00:22:18,720 --> 00:22:26,370
So we ended up pushing the delivery date back a bit, and I just sort of got my head down and started working on it.

234
00:22:26,370 --> 00:22:30,680
I mean, originally, the plan that I had.

235
00:22:30,680 --> 00:22:35,870
Was to much like you'd write a paper, I suppose, was to write out all of your research to,

236
00:22:35,870 --> 00:22:39,710
you know, find all these these books for every chapter you're going to write buy a bunch of books,

237
00:22:39,710 --> 00:22:45,820
take notes from each of them, find articles online, find papers, take notes and then coalesce those all together into a chapter.

238
00:22:45,820 --> 00:22:52,350
And I did that for one chapter, and it took me about two or three months. So it was totally unfeasible for the rest of the book.

239
00:22:52,350 --> 00:22:57,560
And so what I ended up doing was more of a kind of rolling road approach of I had a structure.

240
00:22:57,560 --> 00:23:01,220
I knew what was going to go into each chapter and I knew what the big points were going to be in each chapter.

241
00:23:01,220 --> 00:23:06,110
Because at the end of the day, when you writing an introductory text, you know the science that you're talking about.

242
00:23:06,110 --> 00:23:10,130
But what you don't know is all the detail that goes in between.

243
00:23:10,130 --> 00:23:14,690
It's all the historical detail and the fleshing out of characters and little bits of

244
00:23:14,690 --> 00:23:18,110
information that you can drop in here and there that really make the book what it is.

245
00:23:18,110 --> 00:23:29,090
That's the that's what hangs on the skeleton of the science. So I ended up just sort of researching and writing, not immediately writing something.

246
00:23:29,090 --> 00:23:34,550
As soon as you researched it but sort of pulling together a document, pulling together notes and then doing a bit at a time.

247
00:23:34,550 --> 00:23:38,360
And originally, my strategy was I would write for an hour a day.

248
00:23:38,360 --> 00:23:42,800
That was my my goal in my notion database for every day, write for one hour.

249
00:23:42,800 --> 00:23:50,690
And I found that what happened was I would just sort of open my word document and you'd piddle around for a bit and then go,

250
00:23:50,690 --> 00:23:54,890
Oh, would you look at that? And time was up. I've done my objective and then carry on with the rest of my day.

251
00:23:54,890 --> 00:24:01,040
And it meant I wasn't writing enough, so I switched to writing a certain number of words a day.

252
00:24:01,040 --> 00:24:07,970
And originally I think it was 100 words in a day, which is a pitiful writing target, but is very achievable.

253
00:24:07,970 --> 00:24:12,290
So what you and I inevitably did was I would write 100 words and go, Well,

254
00:24:12,290 --> 00:24:18,380
yeah, but I've got the laptop open now, and I felt like kind of in the flow. So I'll just keep going and you end up writing a couple of hundred words.

255
00:24:18,380 --> 00:24:25,880
And then gradually just upping the workcount I wanted to write per day, so eventually writing 500 words a day and then a thousand.

256
00:24:25,880 --> 00:24:35,090
I think towards the end of the process, right at the end when I had the book in my head and I just needed to flesh out the last few bits and,

257
00:24:35,090 --> 00:24:37,160
you know, basically do the set dressing.

258
00:24:37,160 --> 00:24:42,770
I think I was writing two or three thousand words a day, but that was because the words were already written in my head.

259
00:24:42,770 --> 00:24:49,790
I just had to put them down on on keyboard. And yeah, that was sort of this little bit of a little bit of a mad rush to some.

260
00:24:49,790 --> 00:24:54,650
Suppose anybody who's done a thesis or writing a dissertation will have experienced as well. Towards the end, when you have that,

261
00:24:54,650 --> 00:25:01,160
that concept and you just want to get it down and then delivered that first draft of the manuscript and foolishly,

262
00:25:01,160 --> 00:25:05,420
I thought that was what I was mostly finished. But then obviously you have to do a bunch of edits.

263
00:25:05,420 --> 00:25:11,180
And originally there's there's the round of edits where you speak to your editor and you effectively ask,

264
00:25:11,180 --> 00:25:17,180
right are all the chapters in the right order and are the points in each chapter in the right chapter.

265
00:25:17,180 --> 00:25:19,730
And once you've done that, then doing a second round of edits,

266
00:25:19,730 --> 00:25:24,290
so you're saying right are all the paragraphs in each chapter in the right order, are they

267
00:25:24,290 --> 00:25:25,160
Is there a logical flow?

268
00:25:25,160 --> 00:25:34,220
Is there a story that's being told here and then going through a copy editor goes through and kind of goes word by word is everything spelled correctly?

269
00:25:34,220 --> 00:25:40,550
Is the grammar correct? Well, this kind of stuff. And then you get a copy editor who will go in sorry no

270
00:25:40,550 --> 00:25:43,640
That's the copy editor. Then you get a proof reader who comes in and does the same thing.

271
00:25:43,640 --> 00:25:49,190
And you'll get notes from each stage of this, where the the amount of work you do generally decreases with each step.

272
00:25:49,190 --> 00:25:52,820
But every time you'll get a big document, they'll say, right, these are the suggested changes.

273
00:25:52,820 --> 00:25:58,250
Review them. You don't have to do them, but we think you should do these things. And so there's that big block of work.

274
00:25:58,250 --> 00:26:04,700
And then a kind of spaced repetition almost of going through with a fair bit of work and then a little bit of work and then a tiny bit of work.

275
00:26:04,700 --> 00:26:13,670
And then eventually you get what you think is the finished book and you record the audiobook for it or in my case, I did.

276
00:26:13,670 --> 00:26:22,250
And you go into the booth and then you find a whole bunch of other stuff that you want to change and things that are very minor typos.

277
00:26:22,250 --> 00:26:28,280
That have just been missed up until now, and sometimes they'll be version problems where they'll be two versions of a paragraph.

278
00:26:28,280 --> 00:26:35,440
That one's slightly different, but for some reason the old ones are still there. And that's like the final time you have, you know,

279
00:26:35,440 --> 00:26:39,740
it's like gradually taking your hands off the wheel of a car and originally you're gripping on really tight.

280
00:26:39,740 --> 00:26:44,990
And then eventually it's sort of like letting Jesus take the wheel. Eventually, you've just got like a finger on it.

281
00:26:44,990 --> 00:26:51,530
And then as you record the audiobook and you send off the last sort of few bullet points to change the last few atoms of your skin,

282
00:26:51,530 --> 00:26:58,900
leave the wheel, and suddenly it's completely out of your hands and it's getting printed 10000 times and it's being sent all over the world.

283
00:26:58,900 --> 00:27:06,980
So that's kind of what it's like to write a book. I was interested about what you said about the audiobook, actually, and about reading.

284
00:27:06,980 --> 00:27:20,010
I'm reading if I'm. Because I mean, partly personally, I can't imagine anything I would hate more than recording something that I had written.

285
00:27:20,010 --> 00:27:23,740
But. What, what was that like?

286
00:27:23,740 --> 00:27:26,950
What was that like? Because that's a whole other machine.

287
00:27:26,950 --> 00:27:37,030
Yeah, I mean, so I the only analogy analogy that I can make is that so the other thing that I do in my spare time,

288
00:27:37,030 --> 00:27:47,050
I paint models, so I paint Warhammer. And it's like spending what you think is a really long period of time on a model and getting it perfect.

289
00:27:47,050 --> 00:27:50,500
You're looking at for every angle and you think that's absolutely where I want it to be.

290
00:27:50,500 --> 00:27:55,450
And then you put it under somebody basically pulls you aside and says, for the next two days,

291
00:27:55,450 --> 00:28:01,090
you're going to be looking at that thing through a microscope and you're going to write down every little thing that you find wrong with it.

292
00:28:01,090 --> 00:28:05,770
And as a process, I'm sure that it has made me better as an author.

293
00:28:05,770 --> 00:28:11,470
And it's made me better as a narrator. But it was a massive hit to self-confidence.

294
00:28:11,470 --> 00:28:17,470
It was definitely a massive hits to thinking that I knew what I was doing in the first place.

295
00:28:17,470 --> 00:28:23,980
Because, yeah, it just exposes every little thing that you've done wrong because there is no room for interpretation.

296
00:28:23,980 --> 00:28:30,220
There is no at no point are you allowed to change what is actually written on the page unless there is an actual mistake.

297
00:28:30,220 --> 00:28:33,460
You have to read out every syllable as you wrote it.

298
00:28:33,460 --> 00:28:37,600
You can't use contractions. You can't switch the order of words around.

299
00:28:37,600 --> 00:28:43,990
If you do, they'll be a little voice in your ear that will say, Nope, sorry, you've got to do that again. And so it locks you into to what you have done.

300
00:28:43,990 --> 00:28:50,410
And it was two days that were about eight hours each in a booth of just reading stuff

301
00:28:50,410 --> 00:28:56,060
that I'd written and going over a real journey with that because I realised that,

302
00:28:56,060 --> 00:29:03,160
as I said, I assume most authors do. I started writing the book at the start and then worked my way through.

303
00:29:03,160 --> 00:29:06,820
And that means that you find your your voice as you, as you go.

304
00:29:06,820 --> 00:29:13,690
Sure. And you will then loop back to the start after you found your voice and you know what you're doing and you'll edit what you wrote.

305
00:29:13,690 --> 00:29:17,290
But even then, I found the first couple of chapters.

306
00:29:17,290 --> 00:29:20,680
I was like, Oh, this isn't. This isn't quite what I wanted it to be.

307
00:29:20,680 --> 00:29:24,640
It's fine, and everybody has been very lovely about it and we've not had any negative feedback.

308
00:29:24,640 --> 00:29:31,570
It's all about the first few chapters, but to me, I didn't think they matched up to the image that I had in my head of the of the book.

309
00:29:31,570 --> 00:29:33,280
By the end of it, by the second day,

310
00:29:33,280 --> 00:29:41,080
I was really in the flow of it and I was better at narrating in that I was tripping up less and I wasn't mangling my words quite so frequently.

311
00:29:41,080 --> 00:29:47,320
So you'd actually go over a couple of pages at a time without fouling up and having to start again.

312
00:29:47,320 --> 00:29:49,810
But also, I felt like the book really got into its own.

313
00:29:49,810 --> 00:29:56,920
And so that was that was a real kind of journey of going in very naive, being really smacked down in terms of self-confidence.

314
00:29:56,920 --> 00:30:04,250
And then by the end of it finding, actually, you know what? This is, OK? You've done pretty well with this book, I think.

315
00:30:04,250 --> 00:30:16,160
Yeah, and that must be really, really challenging as well for someone who's used to YouTube as a medium and speaking much more.

316
00:30:16,160 --> 00:30:27,800
Fluidly and freely, I guess, or improvising? Yeah, that's the word, and having total control over and sole control over what I make,

317
00:30:27,800 --> 00:30:33,140
I don't have to put things through 20 people in order for a final product to come out.

318
00:30:33,140 --> 00:30:38,060
The other end, if I wanted to, I could turn on my camera right now, film a video.

319
00:30:38,060 --> 00:30:43,100
Not even edit it at all if I didn't want to just put it on YouTube, and it goes out to my audience.

320
00:30:43,100 --> 00:30:45,950
And you know, that's not something I'd ever do, but it's not.

321
00:30:45,950 --> 00:30:51,440
But I like having that control and having having that sort of final say over the stuff that I make.

322
00:30:51,440 --> 00:30:57,980
So definitely adapting to being limited in that sense, and it was limiting in terms of the audiobook.

323
00:30:57,980 --> 00:31:03,830
But also, you know, when you're writing the book, you're obviously having to work through other people and having people caution you and say,

324
00:31:03,830 --> 00:31:10,460
Actually, I don't think this works and all that kind of stuff. It was it was a definite shift, and I think it has made me better.

325
00:31:10,460 --> 00:31:14,180
And the book is undeniably better for that process.

326
00:31:14,180 --> 00:31:17,240
And I think it's also made better as as an author, because at the end of the day,

327
00:31:17,240 --> 00:31:24,200
I'm borrowing other people's expertise and hopefully using that to improve my content going forwards.

328
00:31:24,200 --> 00:31:34,720
But yeah, it's a definite change to what I was used to. And so moving kind of forward to the kind of the publication of it, so I mean,

329
00:31:34,720 --> 00:31:39,520
I'm interested to know what that was like to have it to finally have the book in front of you.

330
00:31:39,520 --> 00:31:45,490
Yeah, I mean, that was so I.

331
00:31:45,490 --> 00:31:49,240
There had been several moments where I've been kind of like, Oh my gosh,

332
00:31:49,240 --> 00:31:58,000
I'm writing a book like I have written a book and, you know, submitting the the manuscript.

333
00:31:58,000 --> 00:32:04,480
The final version of the manuscript is one of them. Seeing the proofs of what the outside was going to look like was another one.

334
00:32:04,480 --> 00:32:10,270
See what the you know, the typeset version of the book. A PDF of what it was actually going to look like on the page was another.

335
00:32:10,270 --> 00:32:15,860
But the ultimate one was a couple of weeks before it was released holding it in my hands.

336
00:32:15,860 --> 00:32:21,920
They sent me a box of about 12 of them to distribute to people, and I was just sort of struck dumb.

337
00:32:21,920 --> 00:32:26,000
That was it was a really emotional moment to hold this thing that I've.

338
00:32:26,000 --> 00:32:34,010
I spent so long on, but also it was this ambition I'd had for years and years and years to to write it was a it was a really,

339
00:32:34,010 --> 00:32:36,680
really big moment for me.

340
00:32:36,680 --> 00:32:43,640
And in a way, I told myself that because of all of that, because I'd had that big resonant emotional connection holding the book.

341
00:32:43,640 --> 00:32:50,960
I thought that the actual release date itself wouldn't be that significant because we'd actually had some press before then.

342
00:32:50,960 --> 00:32:55,670
And I'd had sort of reviews from people who I'd sent early copies, too, which were very nice.

343
00:32:55,670 --> 00:33:01,130
And, you know, I just didn't think that was very much to do itself on the day. But it still was a whirlwind.

344
00:33:01,130 --> 00:33:06,410
It was still absolutely overwhelming because you you put the post out on social media and everybody's,

345
00:33:06,410 --> 00:33:11,210
you know, sort of overwhelming with congratulations and everything like that on on Twitter and on Instagram.

346
00:33:11,210 --> 00:33:15,470
And I did a livestream on Twitch where I was answering people's questions and I did a bit of reading.

347
00:33:15,470 --> 00:33:20,120
And the day just flew by. Like, I had very few things to do that day.

348
00:33:20,120 --> 00:33:25,940
And I'm glad of that because I just I there was no way I was going to be able to do anything else.

349
00:33:25,940 --> 00:33:29,690
I was just so emotionally spent trying to keep up.

350
00:33:29,690 --> 00:33:35,180
It was almost like, hold the day was going away from me and I was just trying to keep a handle on it and keep a handle on what was going on.

351
00:33:35,180 --> 00:33:42,980
So, yeah, it was totally overwhelming and something that I think I'm just about.

352
00:33:42,980 --> 00:33:49,070
OK with the idea now that I have published a book and it's in shops all over the all over the world now,

353
00:33:49,070 --> 00:33:55,280
and people have been very nice about it and people have written nice reviews. And I previously I understood that in abstract.

354
00:33:55,280 --> 00:34:00,080
I think now I actually I believe it and actually understand that it's something that matters.

355
00:34:00,080 --> 00:34:05,300
And so what? What's happened since, you know, after that kind of really intense day of publication day?

356
00:34:05,300 --> 00:34:16,850
What what's happened sense in terms of, you know, publicity for the book or, you know, what opportunities have you got as a result of doing the book?

357
00:34:16,850 --> 00:34:20,210
Yeah, I mean, I've done quite a few literary festivals.

358
00:34:20,210 --> 00:34:25,910
I was in Warwick University of Warwick last week and previously I had talks in Bath and Bristol and London.

359
00:34:25,910 --> 00:34:30,020
I'm off to Hexham later this year. I actually just got invited to the I.

360
00:34:30,020 --> 00:34:38,510
Hopefully I'm allowed to say this to the Jersey Literary Festival, which is amazing because I love Jersey as an island.

361
00:34:38,510 --> 00:34:46,910
So, yeah, you know, there have been great opportunities to travel as a result. I think it gives you a certain level of second gravitas.

362
00:34:46,910 --> 00:34:54,830
If you if you have a book and you know that that is, I think, probably going to be around for a little while.

363
00:34:54,830 --> 00:34:58,700
The other thing which has happened is that I am now constantly thinking of and my publishers,

364
00:34:58,700 --> 00:35:03,570
asked me about, you know, doing another one, and it's a process that I would like to repeat

365
00:35:03,570 --> 00:35:10,580
And so, you know, every pretty much every day now I've just mulling over ideas in my head about like, what do I think is important?

366
00:35:10,580 --> 00:35:14,210
How would I change what I did before?

367
00:35:14,210 --> 00:35:23,240
Yeah, like the stuff now that is sort of I think I have it in my head that I like writing books and I would like to write more of them.

368
00:35:23,240 --> 00:35:27,680
And that's something that I imagine is going to only intensify and grow over the years.

369
00:35:27,680 --> 00:35:30,470
And eventually, I do not want to stop making YouTube videos,

370
00:35:30,470 --> 00:35:36,110
but maybe eventually I'll be author and part time YouTuber rather than the other way around,

371
00:35:36,110 --> 00:35:44,960
because that was going to be my next question is the kind of the what next in terms of, you know, continuing with the YouTube channel.

372
00:35:44,960 --> 00:35:53,610
Obviously, you know what? If the kind of the goal that you were trying to manifest was the right in the book, what's what's next?

373
00:35:53,610 --> 00:35:58,590
What's the next thing that you're kind of thinking about that you'd like to do?

374
00:35:58,590 --> 00:36:07,050
I mean, I would love to the project that I think is most would be the most valuable to do is a book about geoengineering,

375
00:36:07,050 --> 00:36:12,420
and that's something that I didn't quite deliberately didn't cover in firmament.

376
00:36:12,420 --> 00:36:21,030
But I think it's worth its own book and introduce people to what I unfortunately think he's going to be a big political issue

377
00:36:21,030 --> 00:36:28,470
this century is this idea of should we deliberately change the climate to undo some of the damage that we've previously done?

378
00:36:28,470 --> 00:36:34,170
And there are a couple of other things that are mulling around my head, but that's the one I keep coming back to.

379
00:36:34,170 --> 00:36:41,550
So in the short to medium term, I imagine that it would look like my future is going to involve making that.

380
00:36:41,550 --> 00:36:48,270
And if that one does well as well, because you know, Firmament has certainly done, it's far out performed my expectations in terms of sales.

381
00:36:48,270 --> 00:36:53,940
And Hodder and Stoughton have been very, very happy with it. So another one goes, Well, then who knows,

382
00:36:53,940 --> 00:37:00,510
maybe this is something this maybe this is sort of the way that things are for me for the foreseeable future is doing a book every couple of years.

383
00:37:00,510 --> 00:37:10,140
And if that involves me getting to meet interesting people and visit interesting places and just have to write about it, then that's that's fantastic.

384
00:37:10,140 --> 00:37:20,090
I'm very happy with that. It's incredibly, incredibly exciting, and I usually kind of try and finish things up by saying, you know,

385
00:37:20,090 --> 00:37:26,490
if if there's one of our kind of researchers out there who's listening to this, who's thinking?

386
00:37:26,490 --> 00:37:35,040
You know, science communication sounds like a really exciting career path and something that I might want to investigate,

387
00:37:35,040 --> 00:37:41,470
what kind of advice would you give, particularly what they're still doing their research degree about what they might.

388
00:37:41,470 --> 00:37:48,810
Explore what opportunities to make the most of, to kind of put them in a really good place when they're coming out of it to.

389
00:37:48,810 --> 00:37:55,610
Yeah, perhaps think about going into. So the the toughest piece of advice I was ever given,

390
00:37:55,610 --> 00:38:03,950
and this was fortunately very early on when I was making videos was also the piece of advice that I give everyone because I think it's very true,

391
00:38:03,950 --> 00:38:09,620
which is you have to accept the fact that the first hundred videos you make will suck.

392
00:38:09,620 --> 00:38:15,830
And it's just unavoidable because you're not very good at it. But every time you make a video that sucks,

393
00:38:15,830 --> 00:38:22,070
you get a little bit better and you get to the point where you've learnt enough enough mistakes and you've

394
00:38:22,070 --> 00:38:28,130
learnt enough lessons that actually you can probably make something that's half decent on your first attempt.

395
00:38:28,130 --> 00:38:33,500
And it's the same in any other field. It's the same in drawing, you know, I think it's is it Chuck Larry?

396
00:38:33,500 --> 00:38:40,850
He was the artist for Bugs Bunny, said that every artist has a million bad drawings in their pencil, and it's your job as an artist to push them out.

397
00:38:40,850 --> 00:38:42,470
And eventually you get to the good ones.

398
00:38:42,470 --> 00:38:49,250
Or if you're writing the first piece of writing you have to do is going to be bad, but the next piece will be better because you learn from it.

399
00:38:49,250 --> 00:38:59,540
And if you are interested in making stuff, if you're interested in communicating science in a particular format, then don't worry about doing it well.

400
00:38:59,540 --> 00:39:03,140
And don't worry about doing it. When you're doing it full time, just start doing it.

401
00:39:03,140 --> 00:39:08,930
Just make stuff, because the first step to being good at something is being bad at something.

402
00:39:08,930 --> 00:39:14,930
And that is the hardest step. I think actually is to take that initial step of I just I want to do something.

403
00:39:14,930 --> 00:39:20,270
This is this. I like the idea of making a podcast. I'm just going to make it, and it will probably be bad.

404
00:39:20,270 --> 00:39:25,820
But the next time around, you'll probably learn from it quite quickly, and the second thing you make will be a lot better.

405
00:39:25,820 --> 00:39:30,080
And sure, maybe the first, you know, it might not be 100. It might be 10 or 20.

406
00:39:30,080 --> 00:39:33,950
Things that you try are going to not be popular.

407
00:39:33,950 --> 00:39:35,060
They're not going be very good,

408
00:39:35,060 --> 00:39:41,360
but you're not going to get to the point to make something that will be good and will be popular without making those other projects.

409
00:39:41,360 --> 00:39:48,350
So, so if you are interested in doing this down the line, don't think in terms like down the line,

410
00:39:48,350 --> 00:39:54,800
start doing it now and start learning those lessons whilst you're still in a structure, like doing a Ph.D. or lecturing or a postdoc.

411
00:39:54,800 --> 00:39:59,240
That gives you that flexibility, and it means that you're not dependent on doing this.

412
00:39:59,240 --> 00:40:03,080
It's almost like a bird growing feathers before it tries to flee the nest.

413
00:40:03,080 --> 00:40:07,610
Like you don't hop out of the nest and then hope that you grow feathers on the way down.

414
00:40:07,610 --> 00:40:16,430
You get to the point where you're able to take off. And whilst you're still in a safe environment, so definitely just start making stuff.

415
00:40:16,430 --> 00:40:21,980
And in terms of getting the message out there, I'd also recommend people to develop social media platforms.

416
00:40:21,980 --> 00:40:26,630
So it depends. It's entirely down to personal taste and sort of the audience you're trying to reach.

417
00:40:26,630 --> 00:40:33,950
I developed my Twitter and my YouTube, obviously, as I was going through the Ph.D., but allows you to signal boost something.

418
00:40:33,950 --> 00:40:38,450
It means that you make something and you boost it to an initial audience of people who, if it's good,

419
00:40:38,450 --> 00:40:41,780
will then boost it to other people and they'll bosst it to other people and so on and so on.

420
00:40:41,780 --> 00:40:48,470
But you have that little Kickstart so that starter engine for, for attention and publicity, for the stuff that you've made.

421
00:40:48,470 --> 00:40:48,920
And of course,

422
00:40:48,920 --> 00:40:56,150
the way the best way to do that is grow what your your social media presence is to start making stuff and for people to start organically finding you.

423
00:40:56,150 --> 00:41:00,950
And eventually, the content will get to the point where it stands on its own two feet.

424
00:41:00,950 --> 00:41:07,160
And the social media profile will get to the point where people want to find you based on the merits of the stuff that you're making,

425
00:41:07,160 --> 00:41:13,070
rather than necessarily just being your mates or your research group or whatever. And there's no hack to that.

426
00:41:13,070 --> 00:41:16,820
The unfortunate thing is you just got to you've got to start and grind it out.

427
00:41:16,820 --> 00:41:23,630
And the longer you put off starting that process, the longer it's going to be until you reach that end point.

428
00:41:23,630 --> 00:41:30,020
So start growing your feathers now and start making stuff. What a brilliant note to end on

429
00:41:30,020 --> 00:41:35,840
Thank you so much to Simon for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to me.

430
00:41:35,840 --> 00:41:39,470
And yeah what he says. Go out there and try stuff.

431
00:41:39,470 --> 00:41:42,530
I know in my career in very different ways.

432
00:41:42,530 --> 00:41:52,860
To Simon, trying new things and being willing to fail at them have kind of led to the really the best parts of my job and my career.

433
00:41:52,860 --> 00:41:58,460
And look out for firmament in a bookshop near you, and that's it for this episode.

434
00:41:58,460 --> 00:42:01,610
Don't forget to like, rate and subscribe and join me.

435
00:42:01,610 --> 00:42:15,330
Next time we'll be talking to somebody else about researchers development and everything in between.

 

 

Share | Download
Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App