Interested in writing

June 24, 2005
Reader wants to branch out into writing for dental publications.

My name is Kathy Bergevin, RDH, BS, MEd in Adult Education. I am looking to expand my career as a dental hygienist into avenues other than clinic. With a Master's degree in Adult Education I am very much interested in continuing education instruction, but have no idea how to get started. I enjoy research and writing, and am curious as to how I can expand and use my knowledge in the capacity as a columnist/writer. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.

Response from Mark Hartley: Kathy, I think I can speak for every dental publication in thanking you for your interest. Although dental professionals are excellent communicators — and dental hygienists lead the pack — there's only a certain percentage who feel comfortable about putting their thoughts to paper, so to speak.

As an editor, I enjoy working with writers, and I know the difficult part comes during the first few minutes (hopefully, only a few) after the computer is turned on. There's just a blank screen there. What are you going to say? This is, of course, the reason why our English teachers kept hammering away on us to develop outlines and seemed to pay more attention to that than what we wrote.

Writing requires a whole lot of motivation, and more than just a little bit of courage. After all, you are kind of exposing yourself to critics, hecklers, and other folks who will make sure that you dot every i and cross every t. This leads me to the second part of what an editor does. The critics get a little more boisterous when an article doesn't mean anything to them. This is probably the number-one mistake writers' make: You write for yourself, and not the audience. It is vital for writers to think of what type of information an audience desires.

The other part of that equation is that editors and publications are also thinking about the interest level an audience has in specific information. The audience's interest level in a publication tends to make editors think twice about how particular topics will appeal to readers. Also, every publication has its own style, and writers have to bear in mind that publication's traditions.

So, bounce a few of your thoughts off of colleagues. See what they think. Then scout out the publications that serve dentistry. If the styles of RDH and RDH eVillage happen to attract your attention, contact Kristine Hodsdon of RDH eVillage at [email protected] or Mark Hartley of RDH magazine at [email protected].

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH magazine.