I recently took on a new role that has me thinking about all of the concerns I have heard throughout the years from students and colleagues about writing. I became the Editor of the ARFF News, the official bi-monthly publication of the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Working Group (ARFFWG). It is a great resource for those within the industry, but each issue is plagued with the same problem -not having articles in reserve and trying to pull together enough material in order to publish. This certainly makes it difficult and while it is the desire of the ARFFWG Board of Directors and Editorial Board to reverse this problem, we need you to assist us.
Do I want you, the person reading this blog, to submit an article for the ARFF News? Of course I do, but let us first discuss why you may be wary about doing any such writing.
- Writing is hard: It really isn’t. You write all the time and just don’t realize it. You write reports within your job and a good deal of emails for work and personal reasons. So, in reality you already are a writer – think about it! While it may seem hard to sit down in front of a computer and pound out an article, it is really just getting going that is the worse part. Once you start the words will flow from your fingertips. You will be amazed.
- I’m not a good writer: So, just throw up your hands and not even try? NO WAY! Listen, no one is perfect and we all start at the beginning. I have problems with typos, grammar, spelling and don’t even get me started on auto-correct. I write all the time and am now just better at correcting those things as I go along. It is through practice that we get better. Plus, we have a great editorial board who won’t change the jest of what or how you are saying it, but make it sharper and cleaner. No one is passing judgement on your writing, but rather we are here to make your article the best it can be and make sure what you want to say flows fluidly.
- I don’t have anything to share: You totally do, but may not realize it. There are so many things that you experienced and learned throughout the years. People love hearing about how other people tackle issues or applied learning to a situation. You can ask your coworkers about what they would like to know/learn about and find something that fits you. Have you made adjustments with workflow? Found a new training method that others could use? Done some sort of research to benefit your firefighters? Had an aircraft or other emergency incident at your airport? Believe me, if I can find things to write about for this blog, then you can find a subject for an article.
- I don’t have any time: I understand you are busy, but that is an easy out. Many of us have various responsibilities outside of work that demand a good deal of time; however, writing can be easily broken into segments. You can outline a possible topic one day, begin filling in sections another day, write some more the next day, a little more another day and before you know it you have an article. Sectioning things always works well with people with busy lifestyles. You can always go back to correct grammar, spelling, and flow at a later date. The great thing about the ARFF News is that there are editors to assist you! We are here to help – I promise! The biggest hurdle, like I said above, is just the process of getting started.
- I don’t want to be judged: I can assure you that no one is judging you or your writing. We have a system set up to assist you and want to make you feel comfortable with the writing experience. There are three of us who review the articles – two subject matter experts (SMEs) and me. We are reading the article for what it is – no more no less – and if we have any questions we contact the author directly. To make you feel more at ease you could even have someone you trust – a loved one, friend or colleague – read your article before you submit it. I often suggest this to my students and am a practitioner of this myself. Someone else will see where things can be corrected/adjusted that you failed to see. Why didn’t you see it? Well, you have been so caught up in the writing that in your head you know what you want it to say. That does not always mean that what is in your head translated well onto paper, if you will.
Honestly, if we let such thoughts stop us think about all the things we may not have done in our lives. Life is too short to let fears control us.
- I am worried about feedback: I understand that, but any of the feedback you may receive would be more phrased in positive assistance or clarification questions. All of these would be to make the article stronger. Of course, you probably will receive feedback after your article is read by others as they seek to know more about what you wrote. While it is always nice to see your name published as an author of something, the biggest compliment you can receive is for someone to respond to your written word. That is proof that you had something to share and people enjoyed and/or learned from it.
Those are the most common concerns I have heard throughout the years. All you really have to do is stop thinking about it and, as Nike says, just do it!
The best thing about writing is that you get to put down your thoughts, opinions, feelings on whatever the subject is that you chose. While finishing an article feels wonderful, I assure you having someone comment about what you wrote and how it made them think or impacted them is a far superior feeling.
The greatest thing about submitting an article to the ARFF News is that you have support, because we are like minded individuals wanting to assist our brothers and sisters within the industry by the spreading of knowledge.
Please consider writing an article for the ARFF News if you are in the fire and emergency services industry or a related field. There are no restrictions to length or formatting and once submitted you will receive a verification of receipt. If you do not receive an email about your submission, please contact the ARFFWG directly. Upon initial review of the article, it will be sent to the Editorial Board and contact with the author will be made for any questions/issues/concerns. To submit an article visit the ARFF News submit your article link.