Words of Wisdom
Many resources are available to provide technical advice about how to get started writing, the process to use, helpful hints, etc. The best advice I would give to a novice nurse author is to identify a potential mentor to help throughout the process. An experienced writer who agrees to review the various drafts of the paper will help the novice author through the learning process and can help build confidence before the nurse submits the paper for publication.
Yarbro, RN, MS, FAAN
Editor, Seminars in Oncology Nursing
My best advice comes in two parts. First, what "news of difference" does your manuscript offer? How does your research report, description of theory, or educational or practice innovation extend our present understanding or offer a unique slant? Second, make the implications of your research for nursing practice an important and well-developed section of your manuscript.
Bell, RN, PhD
Editor, Journal of Family Nursing
Target your article to a specific, unique slant, and tailor the style to the style of articles in the selected journal. Publication style is not the same as school-paper style, so study the differences before writing.
Johnson, MN, RN, C, CNS
Editor, Nurse Author & Editor
All journals have their own "personality," and you want to match your paper to the right journal. Spend some time looking very carefully at a few issues of the journal you choose to submit to. If your paper does not match the journal's usual style with respect to subject, tone, length, and level, you are likely to get a quick rejection. Remember, it is not wrong to walk on the football field in a baseball uniform, but it is stupid.
Carroll-Johnson, MN, RN
Editor, Oncology Nursing Forum
Find a colleague with prior publishing experience and ask him or her to work with you on writing your manuscript. You can be the content expert, and your colleague can help with the organization and presentation of that content. If the colleague shares in the actual writing of the manuscript, he or she should share authorship credit.
Mason, RN, PhD, FAAN
Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Nursing
My advice would be to keep trying. Not everyone can write well, but all of us are experts in our field and can share our expertise and experiences with others. If you know that you need help with the writing but not the content, then seek help from those who write well.
Beecroft, PhD, RN, FAAN
Editor, Clinical Nursing Specialist
Be logical, accurate, concise, and clear, and follow instructions for authors.
Larson, RN, PhD, FAAN, CIC
Editor, American Journal of Infection Control
Don't go it alone. I was very fortunate to have a terrific mentor who not only encouraged me to write for publication but also actually helped me get the manuscript together. That was invaluable to me. Seek out someone who has been through the process before. Consider being a second author on a paper, with the intention of learning the ropes. Not being responsible for the whole article really makes things easier. Although I often must write things as a single author these days, I much prefer writing with a partner. If you are interested in writing for the Web, you have to turn your thinking upside down. No one really reads on the Web. They scan. So, you need to go heavy on the bullet points, tables, and graphics and, unlike print media, put your most important points first and your support for them last.
Gomez, RN, MSN, AOCN®
Editor, ONS Online
I find it difficult to write from an outline, so I usually just begin by putting information into paragraphs. However, a good check of your manuscript is to create an outline after you have written the first draft. It becomes quickly apparent if the flow of information is not clear and if information is missing.
Wujcik, RN, MSN, AOCN®
Editor, ONS News
Do not be afraid to submit a paper. A short paper (6-8 pages double spaced) that focuses on a single topic is better than a 20-page paper that tries to cover too much.
Moore, RN, PhD
Editor, Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing
When you submit a manuscript for publication, it will be critiqued by several reviewers and an editor. You will receive constructive criticism regarding your work, and sometimes these comments may be difficult to accept. Remember that the comments you receive are not personal in nature and that they are intended to provide helpful information to improve the quality of your manuscript.
Kline, PhD, RN, CPNP
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
What escapes many nurses who see writing for publication as something beyond their reach is the fact that it can be done. The publishing process is not an unbearable grueling endeavor. Yes, it requires research, writing, revisions, and persistence. It means making choices between doing "fun" things and writing—until you realize that writing is fun and rewarding. It means that sometimes you're successful at publishing the first time you step up to the plate, whereas, other times, more attempts are needed until a highly intelligent editor recognizes the beauty of your work.
The simple reality of it all is this: In order to be a published author, you have to first realize that you have the potential to be a nurse author. Once you take that first step, you then can pull out your pen or keyboard and begin to write and share your knowledge with your colleagues.
Schulmeister, RN, MN, CS, OCN®
Editor, Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing