If You Want to Write, Do It (and Skip the ‘Weaseling Qualifiers’)

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Are you one of those people—nurse or otherwise—who daydreams about writing (a personal essay about a formative experience, an article about a quality improvement project you took part in, a blog post about some aspect of nursing) but can’t seem to find the proper way to get started?

Since the weekend is coming and the October issue of AJN is now live on our Web site, it seems a good time to draw attention to “On Writing: Just Do It,” the editorial by Shawn Kennedy, AJN‘s editor-in-chief. Kennedy points out the one idea common to most writing advice: you have to start somewhere. You have to do it, and learn from doing it, and then keep doing it. Or, as she puts it:

One key to becoming a good writer—or a good anything—is persistence.

But the editorial also gives a range of other excellent tips from Kennedy and several experts in the field, and quotes writing advice found in AJN issues through the decades. My favorite bit is from a 1977 editorial by former AJN editor Thelma Schorr:

[the writer] will use the active voice and not shirk his [or her] responsibility by introducing a statement with such weaseling qualifiers as ‘It is considered that…’ or ‘It is generally believed that…’”

What a great word: “weaseling.” It’s about as far as you can get from the jargon that afflicts so much academic writing. So if you’ve got some free time this weekend, take 15 minutes and see what happens. Netflix will wait.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor


2016-11-21T13:03:51+00:00 September 26th, 2014|career, nursing perspective|1 Comment
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

One Comment

  1. Denise Callahan Long September 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I would just tell people to “go for it”! I am proud to say that an article I recently submitted to a respected nursing journal was accepted! Although interested in publishing for some years, I had not gotten around to it. There is some work involved, but not as much as you might think (assuming you pay attention to detail in the first place). The reviewers and copy editors really made it easy to add their suggestions in order to make the article as good as possible. My article will be published soon and I hope it is the first of many since I enjoy learning from articles. Do you? If so, then add something you found interesting….

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