by Michelle Guillemard
Mastering the art of health writing involves passion for the profession, interest and experience in health, a good toolkit of resources and equipment, and dedication to producing high-quality content.
Here are four of the most important ways you can start to lift your health writing out of the ordinary.
1. Care about the details
When you’re writing under pressure, details can get overlooked – but in health writing, the devil is often in the detail.
Caring about details means focusing your attention on:
- Tone of voice – is your tone appropriate for your audience and subject matter? Should it be friendly, serious, reassuring, authoritative, funny, educational?
- Target audience – are you writing for scared patients, health professionals, or academics? Write for your audience, and put yourself in their shoes
- References and sources – are you using high-quality references and credible sources to inform your writing?
- Expert interviews – are you identifying relevant health experts and asking them the right questions?
- Correct use of medical terminology – are you using core medical terms properly?
- High-quality journal articles – are you referring to reputable journal articles?
- Critical thinking – read and analyse the scientific evidence, and don’t rely on media releases
2. Read other people’s writing
Find reputable health journalists, writers and health bloggers from around the globe, and read their content.
But don’t just read it. Study it. Look at how these expert writers use grammar, punctuation and colloquialisms.
Consider who they’ve interviewed, the questions they’ve asked, and how they have decided to tackle a particular health issue.
Be warned: once you get the hang of this, you’ll never be able to read another article without thinking about these things again!
Use what you’ve learned to work out how you can improve your writing and, where possible, be unique. What can you potentially offer that other writers can’t or don’t?
3. Write every day
Writing is a skill, and like any skill, the less you do it, the harder it is to be good at it.
If you want to be a better health writer, try and write something health-related every day – even if it’s only a paragraph, or a few lines of copy.
Write in your lunch break, write first thing in the morning, write before you go to bed. Write when you’re taking a break from other forms of work. Write different forms of content, too.
4. Be creative
The key is writing creatively is to keep your ideas fresh and add to the conversation instead of rewriting what’s already out there.
You may think it’s hard to be creative when you’re only reporting the facts, or if you’re writing academic papers.
But there are ways to write in an interesting, engaging way, even in health news reporting and academic writing. This comes back to caring about details.
Look at how your sentences are structured. Do they inspire you? If you aren’t happy with them, chances are your readers won’t be, either. What original information and perspectives have you included?