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Phoenix Writing: join our team of writers and editors!

by the Phoenix Rising Content Team
Image by mugfaker/Flickr

Image by mugfaker/Flickr

Do you ever read a Phoenix Rising article and think, ‘I could write something like that’? Or do you fancy helping articles through the publication process, onto the front page and beyond?

Then maybe you’d like to join our Content Team of writers and editors and help produce articles that will be seen here, on the world’s largest ME/CFS online forum:

We reach thousands of readers not only on Phoenix Rising itself but through Facebook, our monthly newsletter and via mailing list services such as Co-Cure.

In September our articles were each viewed from 1,000 to over 4,500 times and the average time spent on these pages was in excess of 5 minutes.

In the same month we received a total of 330,000 page visits across the site as a whole, have over 3,000 subscribers to our monthly newsletter, which features the articles, and receive on average 250 posts to our various forums each day.

We have an active membership of over 1,000 out of a total membership of over 8,000 and accept roughly 10 new members every single day throughout the year.

So, is there a hot topic on the forums that you think deserves an article? Do you have some special insight or expertise into an important question? Can you boffin? Is there an ME/CFS issue that has affected you that you want to talk about? Something about your own story that would help others?

Or could you shepherd someone else’s article to print using your eye for detail, solid grasp of English grammar, and skills in helping make something easy to read? Or would you like to get our articles ready for publication in our WordPress format and in the other media that we use?

If so, then we want to hear from you! Read on to find out what’s involved in writing, editing and publishing our articles, and what it’s like to be part of the team.

How it works

Writers

Phoenix Rising is open to articles from anyone who has personal experience of ME/CFS, whether as a patient or carer. And, although we don’t normally publish articles by professionals with an interest in the disease, such as researchers or clinicians, we’re happy to consider any approaches or to arrange for one of our team to lead an interview.

If you’re interested in writing, don’t worry! You don’t have to commit yourself to anything. In the first instance, you’d contact Russell (‘Firestormm’) with an initial outline of your idea to see if it’s the kind of thing we’re looking for. If it is, he’ll talk to you about the topic, the article’s length, and invite you to work on a draft.

We won’t impose any deadline – we’re all sick and we never demand that people work to a schedule. It’s ready when it’s ready and your health always comes first.

When you’ve got your draft as good as it can be, a member of the Content Team will check it over and tweak it, if necessary, for grammar, spelling, structure and so on.

Tweaks are usually minor but this stage guarantees that if your written English isn’t perfect, whether because of brainfog or because English isn’t your first language, your article will be in good shape. We’re here to help!

You can publish under a pseudonym if you wish. Many on the forums don’t use their real name in order to protect their privacy and we carry that principle through to our articles.

Once your article is ready it will be scheduled in the print queue and will soon be up in lights on our front page. How satisfying! And all there is to do then is bask in the adulation…

Editing and production team

All of the team involved in getting articles polished and published are volunteers; most also write articles for Phoenix Rising. We ensure that each article is edited for clarity and grammar, has appropriate and complimentary illustrations and/or video and is in the Phoenix Rising house style.

Some of the team – not necessarily the same people – get the articles out on other platforms to reach a wider audience. This is a very valuable job and is part of what gives Phoenix Rising its huge reach.

You don’t need any experience of editing or publishing to join the editing and production side of the team. You’ll get plenty of help and our processes are well-documented to support you.

What it’s like to be part of the team

So, that’s what’s involved, and it’s very rewarding to be part of this team on Phoenix Rising. Here’s the proof, from a selection of our team members.

Gabby (writer):

“I am not a natural writer and it certainly does not come easy to me. Furthermore, English is not my first or second language.

Quill and Ink - Pixabay - Oct 2013“How did I come to start writing for PR, you might ask? I am very determined to raise awareness for this misunderstood disease. Since I became disabled ten years ago, I have had to let go of so many functions in my life. For someone who is a doer (like I’m sure many of you are), this has been very hard for me. I have brought up a family and worked all my life. People needed me and I was there for them. I have a desire to fill that void and to leave some mark — to make a difference.

“I have been volunteering my time now in different venues with raising awareness, so that when the possibility came up to help write an article with a summary of the FDA meetings, I was glad to try it out. It has been a great experience for me.

“I was scared at first, since my English is not up to par, but the editors do magic with my work. Everyone is ill so we are understood if we have to take time out and rest. We all just try to help each other.

“You don’t even have to have a specific subject in mind. You can write about your personal journey or a personal experience. I highly recommend it.”

Sasha (writer):

“I started writing for Phoenix Rising because I’m exceptionally tightfisted. Last November, I got an email from Simmaron Research asking for donations. They needed only $20,000 to fund their crucial $250,000 pilot study on autoimmune markers in spinal fluid and if they got it, a further $800,000 was guaranteed for a larger follow-up study. In other words, $1 got you $40. Irresistible bargain!

“I thought this should be on Phoenix Rising’s front page and put it forward as an idea. It got a good reception and I was invited to have a crack at it myself, if I wanted to. So I knocked something out, it was published, and immediately people posted responses saying that they were donating to the fund. It felt enormously rewarding to have helped.

“From then, I was hooked. Writing for Phoenix Rising has given me the chance to help fundraise and spread the word about advocacy actions, both of which are hugely important to me. People with ME/CFS face not just a health challenge but one of systemic medical and political neglect. We need to raise awareness, take action, and drum up money for research. I’m delighted that Phoenix Rising lets me play a part in this.

“I write as and when I can, in tiny bits. I’m never under deadline and never feel pressured to deliver. We all know that we can only do what we can do. It’s great to be part of such a friendly, understanding team who want to contribute through their writing to the ME/CFS community. If you’re interested, I urge you to give it a try!”

Jody (writer):

“I have a special fondness for writing for Phoenix Rising. PR was the first online community I had ever belonged to and the people here are very important to me.

“To be able to write about things that have a significant impact on myself and other people who are chronically ill has helped to reduce the sense of invisibility that can come with a chronic disease.

blog-92132_1280“Writing a personal blog can reach a small number of readers. This is rewarding, and sometimes close relationships can develop between bloggers and readers. But getting much exposure for your words is hard to do this way.

“Knowing that there are so many people who come to PR and who might read what I’ve written is a great privilege. Reading responses from other people in the community is affirming and comforting as we talk about the issues in our lives.

“Though my “real” world is quite limited and I don’t have many people in my life outside of my family, my virtual life is more robust and PR has been greatly instrumental in this.

“To be able to speak to and for people I care about, on issues that matter to us, is healing for me. And having a voice after so many years of feeling bound and gagged is awesome.”

Joel (writer):

“There is a song by a British band called “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” and this is true; though not everyone can play it well. The same is true of writing, and although natural talent is a factor, just as with the guitar there is a relationship between practice and ability. I am a much better writer than I am a guitar player. Anyone can write and most people do a fair bit of it already, even if only on the forum and in emails, so chances are you can already write to a fair standard.

“Phoenix Rising (PR) have a very capable editorial team who you can think of as an auto-tune system – they make you sound read better than you really are. The editorial team will work with you, helping you with grammar, structure, approach etc. and even good writers need good editors in the background.

“I write because I love it. I write about ME/CFS because I am afflicted with the disease, as are many others, and we all deserve better. I do what I can to spread the news on published research and the efforts of our doctors, on awareness opportunities and fundraising for more studies. There are many ways to effect change and this is my way.

“Sometimes (like the last few months) I am not well enough to write articles and so I don’t. PR are very understanding and respectful of that. We’re all sick, including the people behind the scenes at PR, so there is very little pressure; everyone just does the best they can within their limits.”

Russell (editing and publishing):

logo-for-phoenix-rising-me-cfs- non-profit“I not only work with authors on their ideas and drafts – and contribute the occasional article – but I am the one who publishes the finished product and that’s a role that came upon me quite suddenly – and completely freaked me out! Thankfully I’m over it now.

“These roles did not come naturally to me either. There is no past experience to lean against and I hadn’t felt able to contribute anything for several years, but my time working in the background at Phoenix Rising and helping to get articles ready has been very rewarding. I think it has helped my confidence quite a bit, has honed my cognitive skills (at times when that’s possible), and has restored some lost purpose to my life.

“We have all received initial training in the use of the software, and have worked on manuals to help us remember what we need to do. There is always help available and I think we all learn something new every day.

“So, if you do fancy giving any aspect of working on the team a whirl, I would heartily recommend it!

“Please contact me via the forums, under my username ‘Firestormm’.

“We all look forward to welcoming you on board.”

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