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How I Became a Nurse Writer

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I started writing about a year ago, and it's been a great journey. Here's my nurse writing story and tips if you, too, are passionate about writing or are an aspiring writer.

by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

How I Became a Nurse Writer

I've always enjoyed writing. I love words.

Last summer I was home from work, laid up with a back injury. One morning while on Twitter, a Twitter friend of mine (and nurse blogger) asked, "Beth, when are you going to start blogging?"

Later that day, my husband came home for lunch to check on me. He asked if I needed anything and I said "Yes, honey. A MacBook Air laptop. They have them on sale at Best Buy."

Being the absolute sweetheart that he is, by that evening, I had my laptop. (I love it!)

By the next day, I had chosen a name for my blog (nursecode.com) and learned how to set up my own WordPress blog. WordPress is easy. There are tons of help sites and You Tube tutorials to get you started. It was much easier than I thought.

I started writing. That part was the easiest, because, like most nurses, I have lots of stories.

Once I had 5-6 posts written, I published my first one on Twitter, titled "I Was Suspended ", my story of being suspended without pay for 3 days as a new nurse for making a medication error.

That story was published in September of 2014. I've since published 90 posts at nursecode.com and my average daily views are over 2,000.

In addition, I write professionally for three other sites. @not_ratched on Twitter helped me get my first gig.

And it's all fun.

Are you passionate about writing but don't know how to get started?

It's true what they say- just start writing!

Looking back a year later, here's what I've learned.

__________________________________________________________

Find Your Niche

Bloggers and writers need to find their niche. A lot of successful nurses bloggers have branded themselves by identifying with a particular interest.

Joan, the NurseTeacher, is the one I am grateful to, and who got me started.

Perhaps the leading nurse bloggess out there is Brittney Wilson, the NerdyNurse, who is into all things technology. Then there's the Gypsy Nurse, who blogs about being a travel RN.

Kati Kleber, NurseEyeroll, blogs about being a new nurse, and she is extremely popular. Donna Maheady's niche and expertise is on empowering nurses with disabilities, and she has authored several articles here on allnurses as well as blogging at the eexceptionalnurse.com

There's the Yoga Nurse, and Marsha, The Bossy Nurse.

Lorie Brown is a legal nurse consultant and JD, and Lorrie Schoenly, better known as the "Correctional Nurse", writes about correctional nursing. There are so many more.

Most in the above illustrious group are authors as well as bloggers.

These are just a few examples of nurse bloggers and niches. Think about your niche. The benefit of a niche is that your readers have an idea what you'll be writing about.

My niche turned out to be how to interview, find jobs, and write resumes and cover letters. I'm also an outspoken advocate for working conditions in nursing.

Since I'm an educator, I also love to create teaching infographics and discuss nursing practice (

Find Your Style

Your voice or your style is where you're comfortable writing. Over time, your writing voice becomes recognizable as you. It's authentic.

Sometimes I break the rules and use sentence fragments, or start a sentence with "And". But no one is grading my articles with a red pen, and it's my style. My voice.

Find Your Tribe

I've made so many writing friends who have helped me. Sean Dent writes for Scrubs magazine and I pm'd him for advice on Twitter when I started. I was amazed when he responded and helped me out.

Kati Kleber asked me to guest post on her blog, NurseEyeroll, and it helped my readership grow. Btw, (fun factoid) Kati has published here on allnurses.

You can find a tribe on Facebook, where there are groups and pages devoted to helping each other get started as a blogger. Some find their tribe on Twitter, the SITs girls is a well known blogging group.

There's no need to go it alone, when so many nurses who have gone before are helpful and willing to share information. I have gotten several paid writing jobs by referral from other bloggers in my tribe, and we help each other by promoting each other's work.

As an example, if you are a nurse entrepreneur of any kind, Andrew Lopez on his Fb page Nurseup.com, is a nurse devoted to helping nurse entrepreneurs. Marsha Battee, TheBossyNurse, blogs about being in business for yourself.

Find Your Platform

I read somewhere that you can create the most beautiful painting in the world, but if you hang it in your garage, no one will ever know. A platform is where your work can get noticed. It can be LinkedIn, FaceBook, Instagram, Google Plus. For example, I post graphics on Pinterest that link back to my site at nursecode.com.

Concentrate on one or two platforms to get started. Engage your followers and grow your audience.

One of the biggest nursing platforms is right here on allnurses. With close to 1 million viewers a month, your article can be read by thousands of people. It's a unique opportunity to get published, and all you have to do is write and submit.

Learn from Others

Read what other nurse bloggers write. Study what they do- are they on Twitter? Facebook? How often do they post? Why do you think they are successful?

There are some excellent writers here on site, I always read Donna Maheady and Julie Reye's articles, and TheCommuter is another favorite of mine. There are many more. How about you? If you're a writer, what are your tips? If you're a reader, what are your thoughts?

Until next time friend,

Nurse Beth

nurse-beth-purple-logo.jpg

Other Articles by me:

How to Answer "What's Your Greatest Weakness?"

Are You Cut Out to be an ED Nurse?

The Red Nike Tennis Shoes

Nurse Beth is an Educator, Writer, Blogger and Subject Matter Expert who blogs about nursing career advice at http://nursecode.com

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15 Comment(s)

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thank you for sharing your talent and knowledge with us, Beth!

I hope others will be encouraged by your personal story and try out their hand at writing.

NurseGirl525, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Awesome!!! I've always enjoyed writing. I've always done well with writing papers for school. I can whip out a paper in a couple of hours and get an A on it. I also have a little following on Facebook of people who love to hear the little, funny, anecdotal things I post daily. Several people have said they get on just to read my little stories from daily life.

Maybe once I get my life back after school, writing could be a good, creative outlet for me. Thanks for this awesome advice.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Awesome!!! I've always enjoyed writing. I've always done well with writing papers for school. I can whip out a paper in a couple of hours and get an A on it. I also have a little following on Facebook of people who love to hear the little, funny, anecdotal things I post daily. Several people have said they get on just to read my little stories from daily life.

Maybe once I get my life back after school, writing could be a good, creative outlet for me. Thanks for this awesome advice.

You can start your writing career by writing some articles here for the article contest.

nursel56

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 45 years experience.

Great article, Nurse Beth! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the topic of anonymity? I really enjoy reading all kinds of nursing/medicine blogs and notice it can be a dilemma for people who are still working.

I know that on allnurses I have probably dropped enough detail about my life for a determined person to connect the dots, but I've always switched up details about real patients without fundamentally altering the point I'm trying to make.

How did you go about deciding how much of the "real you" to disclose?

Thanks again!

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Awesome!!! I've always enjoyed writing. I've always done well with writing papers for school. I can whip out a paper in a couple of hours and get an A on it. I also have a little following on Facebook of people who love to hear the little, funny, anecdotal things I post daily. Several people have said they get on just to read my little stories from daily life.

Maybe once I get my life back after school, writing could be a good, creative outlet for me. Thanks for this awesome advice.

You're a natural :) And it is a great creative outlet that costs nothing and is a portable hobby!

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Great article, Nurse Beth! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the topic of anonymity? I really enjoy reading all kinds of nursing/medicine blogs and notice it can be a dilemma for people who are still working.

I know that on allnurses I have probably dropped enough detail about my life for a determined person to connect the dots, but I've always switched up details about real patients without fundamentally altering the point I'm trying to make.

How did you go about deciding how much of the "real you" to disclose?

Thanks again!

That's a good question. I've never posted as an anon, but Kati Kleber started as an anon, NurseEyeroll. Then she had a "reveal", replaced her avatar with her picture, and uses her own name. Her career has skyrocketed.

Most nurses don't want a full-on writing career, they just want support and to share. Being anon protects you from employer retaliation. I work full-time and often take public stands opposite to those of my employer on my blog.

Examples are on the use of cell phones by nurses (pro), workloads (too high), nurse scripting (not a total fan) on my blog.

My guideline is, I never post anything, anywhere, that I wouldn't want my mother or children or employer to see. There's always a way to disagree in a constructive manner. Not being anon keeps me honest :)

Some anon nurses get reckless and even mean under cover of annonymity. I would bet being "anon" lets it all come out, uninhibited. And that's where professionalism and restraint comes in, one would hope.

Another thing is, whatever you write on social media is discoverable. Like you said, with enough diligence, most of us could figure out who we all really are, right?

best wishes

Beth,

I just resigned from a telephonic disease management position I had for eleven years.

I am looking for my dream job now.

When I saw your article this morning I jumped on it, as I love writing and have thought about doing a blog.

I have never published anything, but I do so enjoy writing.

It is easy for me.

Can a nurse make a living writing or is it typically a side job?

Are any of these blog focuses already taken?

Senior Nurses with 40 plus yrs experience

Finding the dream job

Operating Room

Disease Management

Telephonic Nursing

Nurse Writers just starting

Nurses Photography

Are any of the above a unique niche for writing?

Thanks for writing your article!

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Beth,

I just resigned from a telephonic disease management position I had for eleven years.

I am looking for my dream job now.

When I saw your article this morning I jumped on it, as I love writing and have thought about doing a blog.

I have never published anything, but I do so enjoy writing.

It is easy for me.

Can a nurse make a living writing or is it typically a side job?

Are any of these blog focuses already taken?

Senior Nurses with 40 plus yrs experience

Finding the dream job

Operating Room

Disease Management

Telephonic Nursing

Nurse Writers just starting

Nurses Photography

Are any of the above a unique niche for writing?

Thanks for writing your article!

You have some great ideas, and the fact that writing comes easy to you is a sign. Well, I think so, anyway.

Writers can make a living, yes, depending on your financial needs. If I gave up working and put all my energies towards writing, I think I could. But it takes time. You're really in business for yourself which can be FUN and a new adventure.

I'm interested in hearing about telephonic nursing, it sounds so interesting. I would love to hear the ins and outs of it. Plus it seems like it could be an option for the older nurse, right?

Have you thought about writing an article or two and sit back and see what resonates? That's what I did/do.

And here's your platform!

You go!

Edited by Nurse Beth
typo

Thank you, Beth! This is a goal of mine. Two things that hold me back from writing more... one, I know from having a pretty successful blog with my sisters in another area, I don't really enjoy sustained blogging (so much pressure to post regularly), and two, I'm not interested in writing pieces where I'm the hero of the story, or people might think I'm claiming that. But I only know stories where I was involved, and most of the time if they're positive experiences, I come out looking good! On the other hand, when I focus on experiences where something went wrong, people seem to respond with some shock and make me feel like the worst nurse in the world.

Any thoughts on these two things holding me back?

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Thank you, Beth! This is a goal of mine. Two things that hold me back from writing more... one, I know from having a pretty successful blog with my sisters in another area, I don't really enjoy sustained blogging (so much pressure to post regularly), and two, I'm not interested in writing pieces where I'm the hero of the story, or people might think I'm claiming that. But I only know stories where I was involved, and most of the time if they're positive experiences, I come out looking good! On the other hand, when I focus on experiences where something went wrong, people seem to respond with some shock and make me feel like the worst nurse in the world.

Any thoughts on these two things holding me back?

You're right about the pressure to publish if you have a blog. I publish 1X/week on my blog, and that feels comfortable to me. A lot of successful bloggers publish more frequently, but every one's situation is different.

But if you are free-lance writing (not running a blog), then you don't have that pressure and can just submit articles (like here on an) when the spirit moves you :)

It all depends on what your goals are as a writer.

As far as being uncomfortable with portraying yourself as a hero, telling a story that had a good outcome because of your intervention is not a bad thing unless it's overdone. You could frame it as lessons learned, or sharing to help others.

You could also take some of your personal stories and write a third person story about another fictional nurse. You could call her Beth, for example. ;) It takes "you" out of the equation.

As far as people responding with shock, feedback isn't always fun. But if you write your stories with a purpose in mind and are true to your purpose, then the feedback will not shake you as much.

You have to differentiate constructive feedback from non-constructive feedback. If you were wrong, own it. Thank folks for their feedback. Try not to take it personally.

Best wishes

Edited by tnbutterfly

Donna Maheady

Specializes in Pediatrics, developmental disabilities. Has 38 years experience.

Wow Beth...you have such a following I thought you had been writing for years!

Love your work!