1. Peternelj-Taylor, Cindy RN, BScN, MSc, DF-IAFN

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At the most recent International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice that was held in October in Toronto, I had the opportunity to talk to many conference participants while I sat at the Wolters Kluwer table located in the exhibit hall. Armed with copies of the most recent issue of the journal (complements of our publisher), instructions for authors, and other giveaways (pens, notebooks, and chocolate), I had two modest goals in mind: to promote the Journal of Forensic Nursing (JFN) and to recruit potential authors. Promoting the journal was the easy part; I simply had to remind people that the JFN was a member benefit. Most attendees were happy to talk about the journal and how they shared their copies with colleagues in practice. Recruiting potential contributors, on the other hand, was not so easy. I asked everyone that stopped by one simple question: "Have you ever thought about writing for the Journal of Forensic Nursing?" I would like to say that many participants willingly shared their ideas for what they were passionate about and how they planned on turning their practice initiatives, unique case studies, and research innovations into manuscripts for review for publication. Instead, I was frequently asked if I was "joking," followed up with "you don't want me writing for your journal!" A few who contemplated my question a bit longer were more pensive and wondered if they had "anything to say that others would be interested in reading."


Writing can be an unnerving task for novice and experienced writers alike. Many of us are still haunted by ghosts of our past high school English composition classes, or perhaps it is the minimal pass we received on a term paper while in university. We all have our own issues that hold us back. At times, I become so caught up in trying to craft the perfect paragraph that I am unable to move forward, although many learned colleagues have suggested that it is important to write first and edit later. These experiences, coupled with having too many "to-do" items on one's "to-do" list and not knowing how to get started in the first place, can be paralyzing and further set the stage for procrastination and self-doubt to take hold.


Have you ever considered a writing mentor? Spear (2006) notes that "mentoring is worthy of attention and reinforcement as it is an important activity that is necessary to inspire the next generation of nurse authors throughout the global community" (p. 1). Mentorship in nursing practice is generally a well-understood concept. In its simplest form, it is the relationship between an experienced and knowledgeable person (the mentor) who helps guide a person with less knowledge and experience (the mentee) to be successful. In nursing, mentoring relationships contribute to professional competency, encourage professional expertise, and promote leadership. Given the trust and rapport that often develop in such relationships, mentors commonly assist with problem solving by offering support and professional advice, providing orientation and education, instilling scholarly curiosity, and challenging mentees to be the best that they can be. I know that many forensic nurses have engaged in mentoring relationships, as both mentees and mentors, whether in clinical practice, educational endeavors, administration, or research. Think about your own career. Who do you seek out when trying to solve a dilemma in practice? What about when you are considering a career change? Or contemplating going back to school? Who do you turn to?


When it comes to writing for publication, you may find that having a writing mentor is what takes you from contemplation, to action, to success as a published author. Writing mentors are experienced writers who are knowledgeable about the publication process, who can listen to your fears and animosities about writing, and literally help you get started by guiding you through the various states of writing, submitting, and revising a manuscript for publication.


There are models in the nursing literature of successful mentoring initiatives and partnerships that have produced a new pool of authors with exciting, novel contributions to the literature, for example, a defined program of writing workshops (Oman, Mancuso, Ceballos, Makic, & Fink, 2016), individual mentoring (Spear, 2006), professional association initiatives (Harding, 2013), or formalized journal programs that match novice authors with experienced authors (Kennedy, A. B., 2017; Kennedy, M. S., 2015; Mayer, Pieszak, & Amen, 2012). As an Editorial Board, we have endeavored to offer writing workshops at the annual conference on forensic science and practice, and individual board members have participated in informal mentoring of potential authors. However, to date, we have not engaged in a formal mentorship program under the auspices of the JFN. I would be interested in hearing from potential mentees and mentors. Is this an idea worth exploring further?


For now, I will close by referring you to my favorite writing resources (see Table 1). I consult these frequently, particularly when I struggle to get started, or hit a road block on how to put my ideas forward in the best way. I have been fortunate as a writer, as I have had mentors in my life who have helped me cultivate my craft. But do know that I still cringe when I read reviewers' feedback and even now turn to my mentors for sage counseling. In my role as Editor in Chief, I often review articles from novice writers, who prematurely submit their articles for review for publication. As a result, I am often the conveyer of bad news, in the form of an email that indicates that a particular manuscript has not been accepted for publication. I truly believe if a writing mentor was on board, the outcome in such cases would most likely be different.

Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 1 Writing resources for every writer



Harding A. D. (2013). Mentoring nurse authors and editors with EMINENCE. Nurse Author & Editor, 23(3), 1-3. [Context Link]


Kennedy A. B. (2017). Launching of IJTMB writing mentorship program. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 10(1), 1-2. [Context Link]


Kennedy M. S. (2015). Pass it on. American Journal of Nursing, 115(5), 7. [Context Link]


Mayer D. K., Pieszak S., & Amen K. (2012). Mentoring new authors: Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing's writing mentorship program. Nurse Author & Editor, 22(3), 1-2. [Context Link]


Oman K. S., Mancuso M. P., Ceballos K., Makic M. F., & Fink R. M. (2016). Mentoring clinical nurses to write for publication: Strategies for success. American Journal of Nursing, 116(5), 48-55. [Context Link]


Spear H. J. (2006). Nurses and publication success: The value and importance of mentoring. Nurse Author & Editor, 16(3), 1. Retrieved from[Context Link]