Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the category “Health writing”

Active voice, passive voice — what’s the difference?

Active and passive voice - what's the difference?

Remember back in school when you learnt about the different ‘voices’ in your writing?

No? Active voice and passive voice?

Still nothing?

Well that’s okay. This blog post will explain all you need to know about active and passive voice, and when you should use each voice.

 

The difference between active and passive voice

In its simplest terms, active voice occurs when the subject of the sentence (or performer) is performing the action. For example:

Tom loves Jess. Tom (the subject) is performing the act of loving.

Passive voice is when the subject receives the action. For example:

Jessica is loved by Tom. Jessica (the subject) is receiving Tom’s love.

 

 Using the active voice

It is generally recommended to use active voice when writing. Active voice is clearer and more succinct. It clearly identifies the action and who or what is performing the action. It is stronger, and enables us to communicate our message more effectively. It also can be used to point the reader in a particular direction

Active voice has a kind of energy that passive voice lacks. It is the perfect choice in business writing — particularly when using a ‘call to action’ (e.g. ‘Call us now!’). And it is usually the choice for creative writing.

 

Using passive voice

While passive voice is often wordier than active voice, it is useful to use it in certain situations. For example, health writing often use the passive voice, because the ‘performer’ is less important than the action.

e.g. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables.

While using active voice in scientific writing is sometimes preferable, passive voice is useful because it is considered inappropriate for scientists to insert themselves into the paper.

e.g. The subjects were tested instead of We tested the subjects.

Passive voice is also used when the performer is unknown, irrelevant or obvious.

e.g. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer.

It is also useful when hedging around a topic. You will notice that police officers, managers and politicians often use passive voice when they don’t want to, or are unable to identify the person who has performed the action.

e.g. Mistakes were made and the procedures were misinterpreted.

 

How to recognise passive voice

As we have seen, using passive voice is not wrong. However, active voice is preferable in most cases. To determine if your writing is passive, look out for the following tell-tale words:

  • be
  • is
  • are
  • a
  • was
  • were
  • has been
  • have been
  • will be

If any of these words appear, then you have written a passive sentence.

 

Changing from passive to active

Active sentences follow a logical order:

i.e. doer of action (performer) + action + receiver of action

To change a passive sentence into an active one, simply:

  1. begin the sentence with the doer of the action
  2. make the verb active
  3. put the receiver of the action after the active verb

e.g.                                        

The novel The Power of One was written by Bryce Courtenay (passive)

 CHANGES TO:

 Bryce Courtenay wrote The Power of One.

  

Final tips

Remember, passive voice has its place in writing too and in some instances if preferable. The type of voice you use in your writing will depend upon what you’re writing, who the audience is, and what the aim of your communication is.

But if you want your message to be snappy and clearly understood, always choose an active voice.

If you need help deciphering active and passive sentences, or just don’t want the bother of doing it at all, please contact me.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

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How to get down to the business of writing…when you really can’t be bothered

Lacking motivation to write

Let’s face it, every now and then, despite the deadlines looming we really struggle to find the motivation to write.

It’s not exactly writer’s block — it’s just that motivation has disappeared as quickly as our morning coffee, and we just can’t be bothered.

So, what do you do to get out of the funk and back into business?

Write a List

Sometimes I can’t quite get into my writing  because I have other things buzzing about my head — things to do, things to remember, phone calls to make, etc. Writing them down is a bit like a brain dump; you get them out of your head, but you put them in a place where you know you can attend to them later.

Get rid of distractions

Do you have your email open in the background? What about Twitter? Facebook? Other social media platforms? While it’s tempting to run them in the background, they will only make it worse for you, if you’re not in the writing zone. Shut them down. And while you’re at it, turn off your phone.

Grab a cuppa

Chances are, before you struck out on your own as a freelance writer, you worked a 9 to 5 job, right? What was one of the first things you did before you sat down to work? Grabbed a cuppa. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, it really doesn’t matter. But the very act of starting your writing session the same way you used to start your regular work day, will help your brain to switch on to ‘work mode’.

Write anything

Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. You could write about how you don’t want to be writing. You could write about what you plan to do on the weekend. The content isn’t important, but the act of beginning the writing process is. Most of what you’ll come up with will be unrelated to the task at hand, or totally rubbish. But the process of just writing, will do something in your brain, and soon enough, your writing will become focused.

Apply some ‘bum glue’

Renowned author, Bryce Courtenay used to talk about a substance called ‘bum glue’ when it came to writing his books. While it sounds like a magical substance, there’s nothing magical about it, and it’s not something you can buy at the local store. ‘Bum glue’ is simply the discipline involved in sitting in your seat and getting your writing done. And it’s not just reserved for novelists. It can be applied to any kind of writing. So why not give it a try. I often find that bum glue is only necessary for around 10 minutes of solid writing. After that, my head is in the zone, and my fingers are happily tapping away.

Take a break

If after trying some of the strategies above you still can’t bring yourself to write, take a break. It may be for an hour, half a day, a whole day, or a couple of days — only you will know how much time you need. Time away from the keyboard and your computer screen, doing something totally unrelated, will free up your mind. You’ll probably find that when you come back, you are eager to get started, and you’ll have one of your most productive sessions.

So, the next time you can’t be bothered to write (and you know you really need to), try some of the above strategies. And if you have any of your own that work, let me know. I would love to hear them.

In the meantime, if you have writing that needs to be done, and you just can’t bring yourself to do it, why not contact me and see if I can help.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

How to juggle multiple projects…and a family…and a life!

How to juggle multiple projects

Life as a freelancer isn’t always on an even keel.

You’ll have periods where the work dribbles in (or even stops for a bit), and then you’ll have times when the work is flooding in and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever get it done.

And while others around you might say ‘don’t take it on’ or ‘tell them you’re too busy’, you know there will be times when the work won’t be so plentiful, so you elect to make hay while the sun shines.

But in the meantime, how do you juggle it all, particularly when you have a family and a life outside of writing?

Plan, plan, plan

I’ve just come out of one of the busiest periods I’ve ever had. In a nutshell, I have written 35 articles over three weeks — 30 of them were part of a big project for a leading health fund. In that time, I still had to find time for my other clients, my family, my training, social life and writing my novel. (Did you know I’m working on my first one?).

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer you is to plan out your week before it begins. I have this amazing planner I use every week, and I write everything on it — training sessions, kids’ activities, medical appointments, deadlines, reminders, social activities and what bills are due that week. My life is that planner. And the great thing about it, is that I can see my week at a glance.

Colour code and write ‘to-do’ lists

I like colour. It brightens my day, but it also helps me see how my week is panning out. Work time is assigned a colour, as is deadlines, kids’/social activities, training and household chores. I also write to-do lists and tick off or cross off my tasks as I get them done. Not only does it feel good, but it tells me whether I have attended to that task or not.

Prioritise

We all have the same amount of time, so why do some people get so much done and others don’t? It’s because they prioritise their time. Focus on the things that are important (e.g. working on your projects, feeding the kids) and letting some of the other things go for a few days (e.g. ironing, housework). Those things will always be there, but when you have deadlines looming over your head, you really need to work on those first. And be disciplined when it comes to social media. You may need to use it for your business, but schedule time for that. Don’t let it suck your day away.

Make time for you

When you’re snowed under, you may feel tempted to keep ploughing on just to get the work done. You’ll skip lunch (and maybe dinner), and will only leave your desk for a bathroom break. But if you make time for yourself and schedule breaks (and eat lunch and dinner), you will be more productive. If you are a regular exerciser, keep that up. Exercising is a great way to clear your head, de-stress and recharge your batteries. And don’t forget to take regular breaks away from your computer to avoid headaches and neck problems.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

You know, there’s a bit of an assumption that freelancers have all the time in the world because we work from home and are ‘flexible’. While flexibility is great, too much flexing will leave you with too little time to get your work done. During busy periods, be prepared to say ‘no’ to that coffee date, or shopping with your friends. Get your work done first, and use social activities as a reward for when it’s done.

Ask for help

Sometimes, it’s just impossible to keep doing everything you usually do, and complete your writing projects on time. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your partner or kids to hang out washing, chop the veggies for dinner or clean the bathrooms. Ask a friend to bring your kids home from school so you get another precious hour of writing time. Ask someone else to cook your meal for you (aka take-away). Whatever help you can get, make the most of it. It will help you stay calmer and more productive. And you know it’s only for a short time.

Take time off

When your project is finally completed, and your client has signed off on it, take some time off. It may be a day, a couple of days or a week — depending upon how long your busy stint has been. Don’t be tempted to keep going, or you will run the risk of burning out. Get away from the computer and your phone and re-engage in the world around you. Go for a walk, go shopping, or just sit and read your book. Everyone needs a break from work — even us freelancers.

And on that note, my final task on my ‘to-do’ list has been ticked off. So it’s time for me to shut down the computer and take my book outside.

If you would like to engage me for one of your projects (after my break), then please contact me.

 Cheers
Nerissa

How to write (better) without a computer

Write better without a computer

Let’s face it. Most of us spend way too much time sitting down during the day. And if you’re a writer, then you probably spend most of your work time, sitting in front of a computer.

But have you ever tried writing away from your computer? I mean write without using it?

No?

Well you may want to consider it.

As a freelance health writer, I have the freedom to pick and choose my hours. This means that if I have lots of competing deadlines, I have the opportunity to work across the weekend to meet my deadlines, and then the luxury to take another day off in lieu.

What sometimes happens on my day off, when I have gone out for the day, is that I am inspired to write. It might be something relating to an article I am writing, I might get a great idea for a new article, or I may be inspired to work on my novel. (Did you know I’m working on my first novel?)

But how do you write when you’re not near your computer?

Well, I have a few strategies.

 

Write the old fashioned way

Notebook and pen — this is probably the most obvious because it’s what we all used to do before the advent of the computer. I always have a notebook, and what seems like a gazillion pens at the bottom of my handbag for when I need to write something down.

Serviette and pen — if for some unknown reason, I don’t have a notebook with me, I will head to the nearest café, grab a coffee and a wad of serviettes and get writing. Even if all I can do is write dot points, it’s better to get it down in some form.

 

Use technology

Most of us have a Smartphone, but do you use your ‘notes’ app? If you don’t it’s worth considering. While it may take longer to type using your phone, it can be very handy. Then there is the added bonus of being able to email the note — which means when you get back to the office, you have an electronic version of your notes/writing ready to go.

There are also a range of speech-to-text apps that you can use as well. Personally however, I am an old-fashioned girl when it comes to writing, and much prefer the power of pen and paper.

 

In my head

It may sound strange, but I often draft things in my head. I draft article outlines, letters, emails and even conversations between characters in my book. I do this when I’m stuck at traffic lights, waiting for my daughter at school pick-up or even going for a walk.

 

Write anywhere

When it comes down to it, we really don’t need a computer to write. Yes, it comes in very handy, particularly if you are using the internet for research or you’re toggling between different documents. However, computers can be distracting — the ding of your email, the temptation of social media — you know what I’m talking about.

While being away from your computer may be frustrating on some level, I think you may be surprised at just how focused you can become when it is just you and your writing.

Why not try it this week and let me know how you go?

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

 

7 things you need to be a great health writer

A tablet computer on a desk - Health and Medical

If you’re new to freelance writing, you may be wondering whether it’s better to develop a niche, or to keep your market wide open.

For a newbie, developing a niche market can seem scary. After all, it does mean a smaller pool of potential clients. And when you’re starting out, you need all the clients you can get, right?

Not always.

Developing a niche can be one of the best things you can do for your freelance business. It means you no longer have to be ‘all things to all people’. Instead, you focus on becoming an expert in area or field. This means you can more effectively market yourself and bring in more clients than before.

If you have already been working in a particular industry or field, you may have already developed your niche. You just don’t know it yet.

That’s how I developed mine. During the 3 ½ years I wrote for a corporate wellness company, I developed many skills that most freelancers don’t have. And so when I eventually went out on my own, I decided to utilise these skills and market myself as a health writer.

 

The future of health writing

Personally, I believe health writing has a bright future. It’s no secret the healthcare industry is booming right now. A combination of an ageing population, along with an increased interest in health and well-being, has made this one of the fastest-growing industries.

As a result, there are more companies and agencies popping up devoted to healthcare. Along with them, are many more opportunities for health writers. Potential clients can range from pharmaceutical clients to health-related brands, through to government health organisations and private practitioners.

 

What makes a good health writer?

However, just because there are health writing opportunities doesn’t mean you are right for the job. If you want to make it as a health writer, there’s a few key attributes that may come in handy.

 

  1. Have an interest in health
    It sounds simple but it’s true. You really need to have some kind of interest in health. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, you’re going to find your work pretty boring.

 

  1. Know your market
    Who will you be writing for? While you may write the odd thing for an overseas client, chances are you will be focusing on content here in Australia, so you need to understand your market. What are the primary health concerns facing Australians? What barriers do we face when it comes to improving our health? Does our culture influence our health? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your content accordingly.

 

  1. Know how to research
    I can’t emphasize enough the importance of researching health content. There is so much conflicting advice in the health arena, it’s crazy. Many writers base their content on anecdotal evidence rather than fact. Or they simply rewrite copy from other websites without checking the facts. Publishing incorrect health information not only leads to lost credibility, but it may lead to a loss of income, or even a hefty lawsuit!

 

  1. Only use credible sources of information
    The information you present is only as good as the sources you glean it from. When researching health articles, ensure you use only credible sources of information, such as peak health bodies, government websites, or internationally accredited organisations. A newspaper report, or information posted on someone else’s blog is not credible.

 

  1. Be able to interpret scientific studies
    This skill goes hand in hand with researching. Being able to read and interpret scientific studies is a valuable skill. Referencing bona fide health studies improves your credibility as a writer, and adds weight to your story. Your readers will walk away knowing the information you presented to them is true. They also have a reference to go to if they wish to read further on the subject.

 

  1. Write in simple language
    When it comes to all writing, simple is best. When it comes to health writing, simple is a must. Writing on health, disease and illness can involve a lot of complex information. As a health writer, it is your job to ‘de-code’ this information, and write it in a form that the average person can understand.

 

  1. Write to empower
    While you are busy translating complicated information into an easy-to-understand format, please take the time to write it in a way that will empower the reader, rather than frighten them. There are many topics that are quite scary for the average reader, so it is your job to present the information in a way that will inform, not scare.

    As a health writer, my job is to present accurate, up-to-date health information in a way that is easily understood. I also see it as my role to empower and inspire people to make a change to their personal circumstances. By all means present facts (i.e. we all know that smoking causes cancer), but present them in a way that empowers and inspires change, instead of trying to ‘scare’ people into action.

 

Writer or blogger?

Finally, you need to know whether you are a writer or a blogger? You can actually be both, but you are likely to be more one than the other. If you are a blogger, then you probably have your own following and know your readers quite well. Your readers probably know your brand and what you stand for. You will also be used to writing in one ‘voice’ and this will be understood and embraced by your readers.

If you are primarily a writer, you need to be more diverse in your skills. You may be asked to write on a range of different topics and for a range of different clients. Each client will have a different target audience and therefore a different ‘angle’ for their story. They may also want you to use a different ‘voice’ (i.e. informative, expert etc.).

Knowing which category you fall into will make it easier for you to adjust your writing style accordingly.

So there you have it. My 7 tips for being a great health writer.

And if you are looking to engage a great health writer, please contact me. I’d love to help.

 

Cheers

Nerissa

 

#paywriters

#paywriters

Over the past few weeks my frustration levels have been building.

In short, I am sick to death of businesses advertising for, and expecting people to write for them for free.

  • People building their businesses at the expense of others.
  • People exploiting my profession, and thinking it’s okay.
  • People who don’t understand the value of a professional writer.
  • People who think it’s okay to expect others to work for nothing.
  • Businesses that profit while their ‘workers’ get paid nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of businesses out there that do value professional writing and pay people accordingly. To those businesses, I say a huge ‘thank you’.

I have been lucky enough to be commissioned to write for some fantastic companies and businesses that do pay me what I am worth. And in return, I give them high-quality writing with great service.

However, there is an alarming trend among job ads for writers; the expectation for us to work for free, with many conditions attached to this so-called ‘volunteer’ role.

So I started thinking — what if I had the same attitude to other professionals?

How would my job ad look if I had the same expectations as many of these other businesses do?

So here it is:

Writer looking for people to do their job for free

Hi! I am a writer who is looking for people to work for me for FREE.

There are so many writing ‘jobs’ advertised that are not willing to pay me any money, so I figured there are plenty of other people who are also willing to work for nothing.

I am looking to hire a wide range of people — from a cleaner, landscape gardener, car mechanic, orthodontist, physiotherapist, personal trainer and even an ironing lady (I especially hate ironing) — but you must be willing to work for no monetary payment.

However, your hard work will not be in vain.

Instead, you will gain valuable experience and I will even let you take photographs of your work to display in your portfolio, which will help you gain further work. I will also provide great references for you, to anyone else who is wishing to employ you.

Of course, once word gets around that you are willing to work for nothing, you may find it difficult to get paid work. And best of luck trying to pay your grocery bill or your mortgage with ‘experience and exposure dollars’.

But nevertheless, I am willing to offer you this wonderful opportunity to get the word out about your services.

So, if you would like to join my team of highly professional people, please let me know. You must be willing to work hard, be a team-player and be flexible about working hours.

Of course, I will require samples of your work, references, and a minimum commitment from your end in order for this arrangement to work.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

What do you think? Would you apply?

I am looking for any kind of professional who can deliver high-quality service in a timely manner, so if your particular skill is not listed here and you’d love to work for me, please reach out.

In the meantime, if you believe writers should be paid their due, do me two favours.

  1. Stop writing for free if you are a writer
  2. Share this post and get the word out that writers are professionals who deserve to be paid.

 

If you would like to hire me (for money), please contact me. In return, you will receive high-quality writing, exceptional customer service and a promise to never take your business for granted.

 

Cheers

Nerissa

#writersareprofessionals #writersdeservetobepaid #paywriters

 

Health writers or hacks? 5 ways to sort fact from fiction

Health writer or hack? How to discern fact from fiction

There’s no doubt the health and wellness industry is booming right now.

An ageing population, coupled with greater awareness of the importance of staying healthy for life has contributed to an explosion in the number of healthcare, wellbeing and fitness business popping up all across the country.

Part of this this movement towards greater health and wellbeing is a plethora of ‘wellness warriors’, ‘health bloggers’, and other individuals writing articles and providing advice relating to health and medical matters.

But are these credible sources for information on health? And are those who write these types of articles qualified to provide such advice?

 

The problem with wellness warriors and bloggers

Firstly, let me state, there is nothing wrong with having an interest in health, wellbeing and alternative therapies. There is nothing wrong with using alternative therapies, and there is also nothing wrong with reading health information on the internet.

However, what you may not realise is a lot of information relating to health and wellness (and even medical conditions) found on the internet is inaccurate, unfounded, unproven, untrue, and downright dangerous.

Sometimes articles contain claims based on anecdotal evidence. Sometimes information presented is old and outdated. Sometimes it is based on pseudoscience, or ‘popular opinion’. At its worst, the health and wellbeing arena is riddled with claims and scaremongering tactics aimed at playing on people’s vulnerabilities and designed to lighten consumers’ wallets.

A recent case of ‘wellness warrior’ turned sour is that of Belle Gibson. A self-proclaimed health guru who claimed to have ‘cured’ her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating and natural therapies, finally admitted last year (2015) that all her claims were untrue.

Ms Gibson had a thriving business based on these false claims. She developed an app and companion cookbook, and wrote a blog on the subject. She also made a lot of money based on her lies. But until her story finally unravelled, thousands of people had put their trust in her.

 

How to determine if an article is credible

Ms Gibson is not the only person to make fake or incorrect claims regarding health and medical information. There are thousands of wellness bloggers, or website owners doing the same thing. Heck, even journalists get information incorrect from time to time.

And while innocent mistakes can be expected occasionally, health information is too important to get wrong the majority of the time.

Here are the top five ways you can determine if the information you are reading is likely to be credible.

  1. Is the writer sticking to facts or voicing an opinion?

A credible health writer will stick to the facts rather than voice their opinion. They will also write in a way to present the facts and empower the reader to make a positive health change if necessary. They will not use scaremongering tactics, nor pressure you to purchase a product or a service.

 As soon as there is a ‘sales pitch’, then it’s a safe bet that the information is biased towards getting you to make a purchase.

  1. Does the article use accredited sources of information?

Any health writer worth their salt will always defer to a credible source for health information. Even better, they will attribute, facts and figures to that source. For example, it’s easy to write :

“one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

But how do you know this is accurate?

A credible health article will refer to the source of the information in the body of the article:

“According to the Heart Foundation, one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

Credible sources of information can include peak health bodies and organisations, federal government websites, well-known medical schools and universities.

Other ‘wellness’ websites and blogs, newspaper reports and anecdotal evidence are NOT credible.

 

  1. Does the article link in with current information?

Great health articles make use of current research statistics. What is deemed as ‘current’? Anything published within the last three years. Medical information changes so quickly these days. With new research being published and statistics updated almost annually, there is no excuse to use old, outdated information.

However, some information and reports are only updated every few years, particularly if they are drawn from surveys that are conducted every few years (i.e. The Australian Census). If this is the case, always state which year your statistics are coming from.

 

  1. Does the article refer to current research?

Just like using current information, a good health writer will back up claims with current research. When citing research studies, the body of the article should mention what year the study was published and which organisation published it. The link to the original source of the study (not a news report or media release) should be included in references at the bottom of the article.

  1. Does the writer include a list of references?

A great health writer will attribute all sources of their information. The reasons for doing this are three-fold — firstly, to add credibility and weight to their story; secondly, to allow readers to search for further information if they need it; and thirdly, to cover themselves in case any of the information is incorrect or no longer current by the time the article is published.

 

A final word…

It’s important to remember not to believe everything you read online. Just because it’s published does not make it true. Even the best health and medical writers may make simple errors.

Health information found online should only ever be used as a guide (and only when you deem it to be credible). Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your personal health concerns and no amount of online ‘research’ should replace your own doctor’s medical opinion.

If you find information that contradicts your doctor’s advice, then speak to them about it. Don’t simply take the word of a ‘health blogger’, or ‘wellness warrior’, no matter how long they have been blogging or how many followers they have.

If you want to engage an experienced health and medical writer for your project, contact me. I’d love to help you out and ensure your content is factual and up-to-date.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

So you want to be a writer…

Becoming a writer - Write to the Point CommunicationsSo you want to be a writer but not sure how to begin?

Rest assured, you’re not alone!

Writing can seem like some mysterious craft that only a select few can do. But really, writing is one of the easiest (yet hardest) things you’ll ever do.

Easy, because all you need to do is begin writing.

Hard, because beginning (and continuing) takes creativity, courage and lots of discipline. And even then, you often question whether what you have written is worth reading.

But before you settle for a career as a writer, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself.

 

Why do you want to write?

What is it about writing that thrills you? Does it thrill you or only interest you? Have you always liked writing or is it something you’ve only just begun to enjoy? If you could write anything in the world what would it be? What do you hope to get out of writing?

 

Do you want to earn a living from writing?

Writing for pleasure and writing for a living are two very different things. Firstly, writing for pleasure means just that — for your own pleasure. There is a kind of luxury in being able to write what you like when you like, and to indulge in your creative side.

Writing for a living means writing for other people. Very often, it means writing to a brief — which means producing a piece of writing for a specific purpose and specific audience. It may involve writing content that you find boring or hard to understand. It may mean interviewing people to hone your story. It may involve copious amounts of research. In short, it can be very hard work, but also very satisfying in producing something that someone else values.

 

What do you want to write?

When the word ‘writer’ comes up, most people think of a novelist. And while writers do write novels, there are many different styles of writing, all of which are valuable and fulfilling. For example:

  • Fiction: Even the world of fiction has many genres and sub-genres (i.e. fantasy, science-fiction, drama, romance, children’s fiction, young adult fiction)
  • Poetry
  • Plays and scripts
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Journalism
  • Copywriting
  • SEO writing
  • Medical writers
  • Health writers
  • Education and training writers
  • Tender and Bid writers
  • Legal writers
  • Academic and research writers

The list could go on and on….

If you have some idea on what you’d like to write, then you’re halfway there.

If you have aspirations to write a novel, fantastic. But remember, many successful authors earned their keep by writing in some of the fields listed above, while they were writing their masterpiece.

 

Do you have a niche?

What do you like to write? What interests you? What are you good at writing? Have you had experience in writing for a specific industry or field? What are your natural talents? Can you combine those with your love of writing? Developing a niche market for your writing, instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to write everything, can lead to a very lucrative and successful career.

 

Do you need new skills?

Finally, you need to ask yourself if you need new skills? Perhaps you want to become proficient at SEO writing, but need some training in the concepts surrounding SEO. Maybe you dream of being a health writer, but need to learn how to research and reference academic research. Writers should always be honing their skills. Sometimes it’s just putting your bum on the seat and writing, but other times, you need to acquire new skills to keep your career moving forward.

If you want to be a writer, then go for it. It’s wonderful, it’s scary, it’s boring (sometimes), it’s difficult, it’s inspiring, it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s courageous.

The best way to begin is simple — just begin.

If you’d like to work with a writer who has superb skills in health and medical writing, shoot me an email. I’d love to have a chat.

Cheers

Nerissa

How to use the 5 Ws (and a sneaky H) for more engaging content

5 WsAs a journalism student, I was taught the 5 Ws of how to write a news story.

Who, What, Why, Where, When; plus the sneaky ‘H’ — How.

Who is the story about?

What is the main point of the story?

Where did the story take place?

When did the story take place?

Why is the story important?

How did it happen?

Fast forward some years (more than I’d like to admit), and I still use this formula when writing content. The only difference is the definitions of the above have been slightly tweaked to suit blogging and long-form articles.

By applying the 5 Ws (and the one sneaky H) you too, can generate engaging content for your brand.

Who

Who is your target audience? Who will be reading your blogs and articles? Who is affected by this topic? Who will benefit by reading this article?

Knowing who will read your content helps enormously when it comes to style and key messaging. It will also help determine what type of language to use. (e.g. If you are writing for a technically minded audience, you can probably use a bit of industry-jargon, whereas if you are writing for the lay person, you would consciously avoid jargon and technical terms).

What

What are you writing about? What are the key messages you want to get across?

When you understand the key messages your article or blog needs to convey, your writing will become more concise and to the point. No one likes to read articles that waffle on and end up saying very little.

Where

Where will your blog or article be published? Will it be in print or electronic form?

Having an idea where your piece will end up and the format it will take should give you some idea of your audience and will therefore help you target the piece. Knowing your reach (and who they are), will also help when it comes to promoting your own work via social media.

When

When will your article be published? Will it coincide with an event/launch/season?

Knowing when your article is due to be published will also help you come up with content. For example, some publications have longer lead times than others — (i.e. magazines and journals often plan three to six months ahead). Keep this in mind as you write. While you may be writing an article during summer, the content required may be winter-focused.

Why

Why are you writing your blog? What do you hope to gain from publishing your piece? Why is the topic important?

Do you want to increase awareness of a particular cause, showcase your business/talents or do you want to generate more business? Having a clear idea of what you want your writing to achieve will ensure that you write it with the end in mind. There is no point writing something simply for the sake of writing.

How

While the question of ‘how’ is slightly less important, it’s still worth considering.

The ‘how’ of your content may be one of a few questions:

How will the reader benefit from this content?

How are you going to promote your piece?

How can you leverage this piece of writing to generate more clients/customers and brand exposure?

So when you plan out your next blog post or article, ask yourself the 5 Ws and that sneaky H, and see how your content will benefit.

If you are wondering whether your business needs a blog, there are 4 things you must consider before going ahead.

If you already have a blog, and would like help planning and writing for your business, please contact us. We would love to work with you.

Cheers

Nerissa

FREE: Reference material to help you write health content

FREE list of health referencesIn previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of building credibility as a writer and given you tips on how to develop content for your health blogs.

In this post, we’re going to share with you some important reference material that will help you write your health content, and build your credibility.

Why use references?

Referencing is vital when it comes to health writing — or any factual type of writing. There are millions of health-related websites and blogs out there, with many of them offering conflicting advice and information. What’s worse, is that the majority of health information (from what I have seen), is not referenced appropriately.

Referencing is important for several reasons:

  • It ensures the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date
  • It reassures the reader that you are providing them with accurate information
  • It helps build your credibility as a writer
  • It helps gain trust from your target audience
  • It enables your reader to go to the source of the information for further detail.

How to reference

We will talk in more detail on how to reference information in a future blog post. However, when you do reference material, it’s important to quote the original source of the information, rather than make a general statement.

For example, writing, “According to the Heart Foundation, more than 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013” is preferable to: “Over 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013”.

When it comes to referencing research studies, simply saying “a study found x,y and z” is not enough. You need to quote the actual study and provide a link to the original study. For example, “a 2010 study by Harvard University, published in Some Journal, found x, y and z” (Reference, detailing the authors, title of study and where it was published should be provided in text or as a footnote, along with a link to the study).

What to reference

There are some definite DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to referencing. Two of the biggest are:

DO use credible reference sources, such as official organisations, peak bodies and accredited government agencies.

(NOTE: Wikipedia is NOT a credible source of information)

DON’T quote information from other articles, particularly if they have not used references.

So where should you go for credible information?

Well, you’re in luck, because here is my list of top places where I source my health information.

FREE list of resources

GLOBAL

 INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIAN

Peak bodies

Australian Government Websites

Remember, referencing is critical if you are writing for the health and wellness sector, so always make sure you use credible and reputable institutions and organisations when doing your research.

If you would like help writing your blog or health and wellness content, check out the great variety of Blogging Business Packages we have available. Or, you can simply contact us to have a chat about your needs.

We’d love to hear from you.

Until next time

Nerissa

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