Joe Leech has worked as a Dietitian for 2 years in Darwin and remote Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory.
Why did you decide to become a health writer?
Ever since completing a semester of my Master’s degree in Finland, backpacking overseas became one of my biggest priorities. I just feel inspired and in my element during travel. The problem, of course, was that work required I stay in one place. Becoming a health writer was an obvious way – to me – that I could achieve location independence. That is, being able to live and work from any location. So I did it.
How did you get your ‘big break’ as a health writer?
In 2012 I entered a writing competition that had been advertised to members of the Dietitians Association of Australia. Fortunately, I was picked the winner and won a free membership to the Australasian Medical Writers Association. The prize also included a paid trip to the annual conference in Brisbane at the time, where I met many like-minded colleagues in the health writing space.
What’s your best piece of advice for those who are considering a career in health writing or who are just starting out?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or 5 days. Or 5 years.
It takes time to establish yourself and build a career around your writing. Persistence is key… something I still continue to remind myself.
What’s the most challenging topic you’ve ever had to cover?
Nutrition’s role in the injury management of elite athletes. It was one of the first articles I wrote requiring a heavy amount of scientific referencing. It was also my first article for Sports Medicine Australia, so I wanted it to be exceptional.
What’s the hardest thing about being a health writer?
As a freelancer often working from home or overseas, the hardest thing is convincing friends that health writing is a real job! The main problem being that they may not respect my time as much as if I was working a “conventional” day job in an office. For example, I’d be expected to take a casual phone call during work hours, whereas that would not be expected of me if I was in the office.
What do you love most about health writing and why?
For me, there’s two points to this answer.
Firstly, I love that my writing, knowledge and advice can reach such a wide audience. Readers of my work are typically desperate for accurate medical advice, so it’s nice to be able to help those in need.
Secondly, writing in general allows me the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. It can be the office, the lounge room, the airport, the hotel room… it doesn’t matter as long as I can get internet access.
I’m treasuring the location independence writing provide me.
What inspires you in your career?
I think the amount of misleading, over-sold, orthorexic nutrition advice out there fuels the fire to a large degree. Also my love for cooking and love of food- even on a molecular level.
Remember, there’s a fine line but a big difference between a love of eating and a love of food.