I have been out of school for 5 years. My previous writing experience was nearly 10 years ago as I completed a BA in 18th century literature of a foreign language, and a BA in cultural anthropology. I've changed field for my masters degree and I am currently working on a PhD in a biomedical/population health science. This year I have struggled through most of the program because of the writing. One issue I've had is that qualities I once considered as strengths are bringing on my demise. The eloquent communication, pungent analysis and metaphorical language are no longer strengths and succinctness is not part of my style ( I actually don't know how to be brief). My mother tongue is a romance language, which may to some degree speak to my style of communication (but this is only an excuse). An honest self-assessment has shown me that when making a point I always resort to using an allegory to build suspense or just provide clear contextual knowledge to my audience.
My issues is this, in scientific writing manuscripts are often limited to 3500 words and providing long thought-provoking expository narratives translates into a ramble or in the worse case, it appears that I am just spilling out information to it's legitimize myself in the eyes of the audience.
Short of taking a technical writing course, I am trying to work on these issues on my own over the summer. My plan so far is to write a 500-words weekly blog post (NYTimes editorial style) on an issue in my field and to conduct as many critical appraisals of articles I review in preparation of a literature review I am working on as a way to familiarize myself with technical writing style for scientific publications.
I don't know if this is the best route, and would like to hear your suggestions on how to proceed. What type of activities and deliverables do you think would help me work on honing technical writing skills, aside from working on a manuscript? What reference books/websites have you used in the past to help you improve technical scientific writing for academia?