When I wrote my first paper, a poster for SUGI 13, yes it was SUGI back then, not SAS Global Forum, I had no idea what a wonderful journey I was embarking on. At the time, I thought that paper was just a way to get to a conference. That was in 1988. Now over a hundred SAS papers and five SAS books later, and with the benefit of hindsight (believe me, foresight and a future as a writer were not in the mix), I can see the many doors that were opened by that initial paper.
Writing and presenting that first paper helped me meet other presenters, SAS users, and conference leaders. Those contacts helped me become involved as a conference organizer, section chair, and eventually the 2003 conference chair for SUGI 28.
Writing also helped me learn to write. Looking back, that first paper was really not all that good. My first book contribution (two articles in the now out of print Reporting from the Field), wasn’t that great either. But, by the time the Books by Users (now SAS Press) acquisition editor, David Baggett, talked me into writing my first book (Quick Results with SAS/GRAPH® Software), I had written 15 invited and contributed papers and posters and my writing had improved.
Now, writing is fun for me. In fact, I wish I had more time to write about SAS and to share what I have learned about this incredibly powerful and complex language. It is most fun when writing about one of the areas or topics that I am most familiar with. That very first paper was about the macro language, and the techniques that it attempts to describe are still useful today over 25 years later.
So where are you in your writing journey? That first paper submittal can be the hardest, but there are many more opportunities now than there were 25 years ago. Local user groups abound, are less threatening, and are always looking for new content. Visiting Alaska? Make it a business trip and speak at an AKSUG meeting. Most of the regional user conferences have e-posters (you don’t present to an audience), as well as Quick Tips (aka Coder’s Corner), which are short (10 minute) single topic presentations. There are also opportunities for 20 and 50 minute presentations for more involved topics.
Trust me, SAS users make great audiences. We all want to learn more and there is always more to learn. You can contribute to our learning experience. What SAS topics do you care about? What cool tip or trick did you just learn? Others may know about it, but many will not – so share it. Set aside a bit of time to collect your thoughts. You may want to write and submit a paper for SAS Global Forum 2016. Or perhaps you may want to write a short tip or even an article on the SAS user’s wiki sasCommunity.org. I encourage you to have fun with the writing and with presenting. Join in the journey. It has proven to be a very rewarding part of my SAS career.
Don’t forget to submit your abstract for SAS Global Forum 2016 by October 7. You can even enroll in the SAS Global Forum Presenter Mentoring Program to gain some help with writing your abstract, title and paper. I am planning on being a mentor. Perhaps we will work together on your paper.