1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, RN

Article Content

Writing is hard work and bad for the health.1 -E. B. White


Writing is hard. It takes a certain type of discipline and a unique blend of passion and knowledge. The effort represents a constant dueling dichotomy; although it is solitary work, it cannot be done alone.


I am always inspired by the work and words of the late E. B. White, a writer of children's books and scholarly works. I learned that he found writing very difficult and reported that most of his work was done in editing his own pieces. He did most of his writing at the water's edge in an old boathouse in Maine, sitting in Spartan solitude on a wooden bench. Writing never comes easy, and it took him years to realize that spikes were sticking in his back. Finally, he built himself a broader bench and screened in the boathouse and chased off the foxes that burrowed into the ground below.2


We all need some help and adjustments for this important work. Moreover, we must recognize that students, professionals, and novice and experienced writers face similar challenges. The advice seems to be the same-just start writing!


Once you do this, the next step may be to ask for help. Support is available in many forms: a trusted friend or mentor-or perhaps, a kind stranger or acquaintance. Often, a new writer will search for a while and find someone or something that offers the best individual fit.


For this reason, we continue to offer resources and words of encouragement from a variety of sources.


The Open School at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recognizes that peer-reviewed journals are only 1 option for sharing knowledge. One resource for writer is a section entitled, Publishing Your Work, found on their site at


Listed below are some of the audio and digital resources they provide:


Get Your Work Published

An on-call audio conference with David Stevens, editor of the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care, and Frank Davidoff, Institute for Healthcare Improvement's executive editor.


Becoming a Writer: An Interview With Pauline W. Chen, MD

New York Times columnist and author Pauline Chen never planned to be a writer or a surgeon. Now she's both.


Where to Submit Your Writing

A short list of peer-reviewed journals receptive to publishing articles related to quality improvement.


SQUIRE Guidelines

The SQUIRE (Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence) Web site helps authors write excellent, usable articles about quality improvement in health care.


Guided Reflection on Your Writing

Answer 4 questions and get a better sense of your goals, challenges, and expectations


Open School Posterboards

Samples of quality improvement projects and personal improvement work


Tips on Using Social Media

Paul Levy, a former chief executive officer and president of a hospital, shares how he got involved in blogging, how his blog promoted transparency at his hospital, and tips for success in social media.


Students on Writing for Scholarly Journals

Students who have published their work in scholarly journal share the secrets of their success.


How to Write a Letter to the Editor: Turning Passion Into Action

Some tips to help you get your op-ed or commentary published.


Start a Journal

How do you develop the courage to challenge and change institutions?3


David P. Stevens, editor-in-chief of Quality and Safety in Health Care, designed a reflective exercise in one of these segments that may help a new writer gain a better sense of their goals, challenges, and expectations. He asks 4 questions that may be helpful to writers at all levels.4 Try these when you are looking for direction or inspiration!


1. Do You Find Writing Fun?


Which aspects of writing do you find to be fun?


Which are filled with dread?


Why do you want to write?



2. How frequently do you actually sit down and write for scholarly purposes?


How often do you wish you sat down to write?


What prevents you from writing as often as you would like?


What is one thing you think might help you increase the amount of time you spend writing?



3. Please reflect on your experience writing scholarly papers for publication.


How many papers, abstracts, and/or posters have you presented or published?


If you've published or presented formally, what are examples of published work about which you're particularly proud?



4. What do you consider your strengths in scholarly writing for health care improvement or for other purposes?


Continue to write every day, and remember the advice of E. B. White, "Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar!"1



Kathleen Ahern Gould, PhD, RN




Dimensions of Critical


Care Nursing


The author has disclosed that she has no significant relationships with or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.




1. BrainyQuotes. E.B White Quotes. 2015. Accessed September 24, 2015. [Context Link]


2. Shenker I. E. B. White: notes and comment by author. The New York Times on the Web. Original publication July 11, 1969. Accessed September 30, 2015. [Context Link]


3. IHI Open School. Publishing Your Work. Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2015 Accessed September 24, 2015. [Context Link]


4. Guided Reflection On Your Writing. Institute for Healthcare Improvement. 2015. Accessed September 24, 2015. [Context Link]