Write an Article: Conquer Your Writing Concerns     

By: Dr. Rene Herron

ARFF News is a valuable resource for those within the ARFF industry.  The publication is bi-monthly and supported by you.  Volunteers serve on the Editorial Board: Tom Wagner, Matt Mauer, and myself, work under the direction of the ARFFWG First Vice Chair, Ted Costa.  However, we often struggle with not having enough 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.

What can YOU do?  Well, you can write an article. I know many will state that is not in their wheelhouse, but it isn’t that hard. Let’s address point blank the most commonly given statements about not wanting to write:

  1. Writing is hard:  It reallyisn’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, 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 just getting going that is the worst part.  Once you start the words will flow from your fingertips. You will be amazed.  Plus, the Editorial Board is here to assist you.  We will help you develop your idea into an article.

  2.  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 gist of what or how you are saying it but will help you make it sharper and cleaner.  We will suggest corrections, edits, and/or remove any portions if deemed to be a conflict with safe operation procedures or ARFF tactics.  We will discuss these with you directly.  No one is passing judgement on your writing, but rather will make sure what you want to say flows fluidly and is the best it can be.

  3. 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 adjusted 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, you have material. You just haven’t thought of it that way before.

  4. 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 later.  The great thing about ARFF News is we are here to help – I promise!

  5. 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 will contact you, 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. 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 fear control us.

  6. I am worried about feedback: I understand that, but any of the feedback you may receive would be more phrased in terms of 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 must 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, and 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.

Please consider writing an article for ARFF News.  There are no restrictions to length or formatting. To submit an article, visit the ARFFWG website -see above pictures – or email me directly at arffnews@arffwg.org.

Once an article is submitted you will receive a verification of receipt.  If you do not receive an email about your submission, please contact the me directly at arffnews@arffwg.org.  Upon initial review of the article, it will be sent to the Editorial Board. We will contact the author directly for any questions/issues/concerns.  If you have any questions or would like to flesh out an article topic, please feel free to contact me: arffnews@arffwg.org. 

Happy writing!

About the Author:  Rene Herron is an active researcher within the ARFF industry.  She has a Ph.D. from Florida State University, an MPA from the University of North Florida, and is currently a part time faculty member at Capella University.  She serves on the NFPA Technical ARFF Committee and the ARFF News Editorial Board.