Letting the English Major Free

I read a lot of blogs. I also try and read what acupuncturists and other complementary care providers are writing.  The vast majority of people do a great job.There are a few others that can use some tips.  How do you get me to keep reading?

First, who is your target audience. I don’t want to read something that challenges my understanding of health and medicine one day only to be patronized the next. Be consistent. If you are writing for patients, always write for patients.  If you are writing for other healthcare providers, write at a level other providers will understand.

Look at your blog in several different browsers and make sure it’s readable. If you don’t know how to install more than one browser, get some trusted friends who might have different browsers and ask them what the text looks like. Sometimes text doesn’t render well on all systems.  Use  a common font.  Make sure that grammatical characters like commas and semi-colons render correctly.

Don’t over use the exclamation point. The exclamation point is for when someone is really excited. When I say excited I mean someone yelling “Fire!” or “Help!”.If your sentence doesn’t have that same urgency toss the exclamation point.

Don’t be afraid to assert your opinion. You are writing the article. Avoid hedges like might and maybe. I do it all the time. I can tell you that any good English teacher will remind you that your article is stronger if you make a solid statement that leaves no room for doubt. If you are going to say sometimes, give me a closer percentage, like half the time or three quarters of the people rather than using vague terms like “most” or “some.” Certainly in medicine there is a need to hedge because nothing is ever certain but the assumption on a blog is that it is your experience. If you are quoting someone else find out the best statistics you can and site them and let people know where you sourced something.

Acupuncturists have a lot of great information out online. Make sure yours isn’t overlooked because it’s not as readable as other blogs. It’s important for practitioners to communicate with each other about what they are finding and learning. The internet is a great media for helping disseminate information. We each have something to contribute to the medicine. Let’s make sure we communicate it well so we are take seriously.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

2 thoughts on “Letting the English Major Free”

  1. Great advice. Thanks for sharing it. I KNOW I make some of the mistakes you listed. I use more vague terms like “most” or “many” instead of citing more specific percentages. Sometimes I do this because I worry about making claims that will put up flags for the FDA (though I suppose you are right – it is my blog which means it is about MY clinical experience). I also tend to write some posts that are clearly geared toward patients/the general public. Other posts will be written more for the practitioner. I hope I do a good job of clarifying who my audience is at the beginning of the posts because I would like to continue offering useful information to both patients and practitioners. What do you think of this?

  2. Diana, you are one of the best acupuncture blog writers out there. There are six or seven of you that I read that have a great looking blog that reads smoothly. I haven’t gone back there, but the only thing I would do is when you categorize your posts is maybe have a category for patients and for practitioners so that if I go into the archives I can find back posts that will pertain to me easily.

    It’s tough to always get around the most and many when writing about healthcare. You can always says 2 out of 3 of my patients or something of that sort. Even “all patients in a small sample” (meaning at your clinic) are great. Don’t feel you can’t EVER use most or many–there are times when we really don’t know and then it’s important.

    “Most” or “many” is appropriate when you are writing to patients. You don’t want to get in trouble by making claims that you can’t back up. Just remember to think carefully before hedging–do you really need to? For instance: My patients have gotten well using this product. Most patients see relief fro this product. The first is clarifying a subset over which you have total knowledge and therefore should not need a hedge (unless you only got 90% in which case you have the statistics). The other is a broader statement over which you don’t know exact numbers and do not want someone to think that everyone gets results. Did that make sense? Also always make sure you have your disclaimer that your blog is meant to be information and no one should act on the advice without checking in with their own licensed acupuncturist, or naturopath.

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