If you have just started working as a health writer, you may be experiencing a number of mixed emotions, from excitement to nerves.
While all these feelings are natural, you’re not alone. Even the most experienced writers will feel trepidation when starting new projects or work.
The good news is these feelings can be controlled, and there are steps you can take to happily enjoy that first writing project that falls on your desk.
What causes nerves?
Feeling mixed emotions can be a good thing. It means you don’t just want to be a health writer – you want to be a great health writer.
However, it’s important not to let your emotions control your ability to write. You may notice your nerves are becoming detrimental to your writing ability if you are:
- Procrastinating writing a new project
- Thinking too much about your writing project without developing any ideas
- Unnecessarily editing and revising your work after completion
- Experiencing feelings of inadequacy or judgement after submitting work
If you can relate to any of these feelings or are experiencing other similar emotions, it’s not too late to change your mindset.
How you can deal with mixed emotions
1. Remember your motivation
Each of us has our reasons for working as a health writer. You may be passionate about health and medicine. Or, perhaps you want to counteract all the pseudoscience available with quality health offerings.
Whatever your aspirations, write them down. Write them on a sticky note and place the note next to your computer screen, or keep them in a journal. Being consciously aware of your motivations will keep you focused and driven in your health writing career.
2. Educate yourself
Not only will this ensure your writing is credible and accurate, but it can also help build your confidence that you are meeting industry expectations when you deliver your work.
3. Make friends
Get to know other health writers by joining online discussion groups or attending networking events held by your professional associations. Keep in mind your colleagues are not your competition but are your comrades.
Your professional connections can help you transition to your new career smoothly and even offer some advice from they first started, the mistakes they made and how they have made their career a success.
4. Ask for feedback
A mentor can be a wonderful source of affirmation. Positive feedback is a great way to encourage your abilities as a health writer.
By asking a mentor for feedback, you can also keep refining your skills. Remember how important it is to take constructive criticism positively – it can be a powerful resource to improve your writing.
5. Don’t compare yourself
You may wonder how your work will measure up compared to other well-established health writers. However one of the most unproductive things you can do is to compare yourself to other health writers.
Successful health writers are motivated by years of hard work, focus and dedication. So give yourself the time to hone your craft and forge a career in the industry.
6. Plan your work
To stay focused on a new writing project it can help to plot a task driven deadline. For example, you could break down the writing into tasks you set yourself over three days.
Short time frames can help you build up your confidence over time until you can shrink your time frames for writing projects.
7. You will make mistakes…and it’s ok!
The truth is you will make mistakes. Just remember the best way to learn is from your mistakes.
By having a thick skin early on in your career, you can be better prepared for when your work comes back for revisions – keeping in mind feedback is not a personal attack on your writing.
8. Practice makes perfect
Create a blog as a place to practice your writing. Not only does it develop an online portfolio of your writing, but also it gives you confidence and a safe place to practice before you embark on that first writing project.
You could give yourself a creative brief or a health topic to give you practice in writing for a particular purpose. The aim is to have a comfortable space to build your confidence as a health writer.
9. Keep it simple
It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re starting out and feel like you need to explore every option available to you. The reality is you’re not going to be able to write for about every health topic or learn every writing style.
Find your niche and hone your skills within the health writing industry. Make sure it is an area you feel comfortable, and you will find you develop feelings of excitement naturally over time.
10. Have fun!
Although writing about health involves researching weighty topics and issues, it’s important you enjoy the process. Health writing is an important career that can influence and shape many people’s lives.
Celebrate your first paid writing assignment and congratulate yourself on starting a career that will be both rewarding and challenging.
What helped you when you first started as a health writer? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.