Nurses have a wealth of tacit and explicit knowledge, the value of which remains hidden because of a fear of authorship. How can nurses overcome their intimidation by the pen? In this paper, the personal and intrinsic are integrated with the public and literary as key issues on nurses' authorship are explored. Motivation and disincentives are balanced against helpful strategies for new writers such as cultivating a positive attitude, linking with a critical colleague, consulting 'how to' books, and journal keeping. In addition, originality, creativity, ethics and the shadow side of publishing are discussed.