Why Should You Write on the Web?
Because you can...
- Reach gobs of people both near and far... peers, M.D.'s, and
- Generate some good old-fashioned career "mo" (momentum)
with the amazing power of the WWW, and...
- Save time and money
It's an astounding opportunity that's overlooked and under-used...
I would love to see acupuncture flourish in the U.S.
I'd love to see your practice and/or writing career explode as
a result of smart online writing!
First, the basics of good writing
you can learn these at
your local high school. Just kidding! But seriously folks, some
people have more trouble at writing than others
- Frequent reading pays off because you see good grammar and
spelling in action.
- Use your your word processing program's grammar checker.
- Find a pre-publishing proof reader.
Online Writing that Works
I've learned some valuable lessons about...
- What NOT to say,
- What TO say, and
- HOW to say it!
The web is a different animal
people read and act differently
online than anywhere else. There are special tricks and tips for
writing on the web.
What Great Web Writing is NOT
Great online writing is NOT...
- Scientific or scholarly literature
- The King's English
- Strunk & White (they wrote the classic "Elements
of Style" - sorry guys)
- What your 12th grade English teacher taught
- What your Practice Management Guru advises
I try to emulate people like Dave Barry. Ok, so he's a humorist
and you're a "Health Professional"... so what? He's
got personality. More importantly, he conveys it. People like
real people- you've got to seem like one online... even if you're
not. Kidding again!
Start an E-Newsletter For Free
You can start an online newsletter for free
are a good way to stay in touch with patients, inform future patients,
and keep yourself visible. There are some great and reputable
email-group providers out there that manage the whole thing for
you! I used Topica.com until
I could afford to pay for a better service like Constant
Contact. Compare this strategy (free and automated) to the
cost of publishing your own snail-mail newsletter monthly. Oh,
the headaches of layout, printing, and cost... Yuck!
How'd I Get So Smart? The Bible of Online
Apart from being born full-grown with natural wisdom and insight,
and being Albert Einstein's long-lost orphan-daughter's grandson
(no, not really)... Many hours of brainstorming showers ("Everyone
has great ideas in the shower
not everyone acts on them"
- Jim Collins).
I must confess that equally as many of my good ideas come from
the Bible of online selling, Make Your Site Sell! 2002 (MYSS!
2002). It's like the Bible in both authority and length; I haven't
even read the whole thing yet, because its 4 books are a total
of more than 1000 pages. It talks extensively about what makes
the difference between a good site and a bad one. And it keeps
giving me more good idea... like a spark-plug. Check it out.
For more about MYSS! 2002... Go to:
- or -
- Download a free introductory
copy (limited version, but still plenty of good info). It's
1.6 megabytes... so if you're on a slow connection, be patient!
Less than a minute though for you high-speeders. You'll need
WinZip to unzip it... you can get that for free here.
Read the ReadMeFirst.txt file first!
If it seems like MYSS!2002 covers more than you need, stay tuned-
I'll talk about a more specific resource for online writing later.
To Qi, or Not to Qi - Writing Chinese Medicine
The question is, when writing for the public, how much Chinese
Medicine language do you use? Do you say qi, or "energy"?
Do you write spleen, Spleen, Spleen-system, or "digestive
function"? If we rephrase everything in English and leave
out the chinese medicine concepts, are we betraying the medicine
and fostering inaccuracies? But if we use CM terms all the time,
don't we run the risk of turning off M.D.'s and skeptical future
patients? I prefer a middle of the road solution. I don't go into
all the pathomechanisms until they already understand the basics
in your practice, if you've noticed, each patient
has to be educated. When you write to who knows who, you have
to take into account the lowest common denominator
who knows nothing about CM.
Common Patient Misconceptions
You know how when you tell them you're treating their Liver,
they start to think that something is wrong with their liver organ?
If they escape from your office with that misunderstanding, it
may get back to their MD who will decide you're a duck. I mean
a quack. In this case and many others, we have to over-communicate.
It's rather redundant, though, isn't it... to say the same thing
to 500 patients? You could write a Frequently Asked Questions
brochure or handout for your patients on these recurring topics.
More Web Writing Style
Another great tip I got from MYSS! 2002 was the fact that text
on the web reads better when it comes out more like the spoken
word... and it's ok to start a sentence with 'And', or use those
three little periods... so that whatever comes to mind gets written
as is. That's right, you can exorcise your English teacher. Just
visualize stuffing a chalkboard eraser in his mouth the next time
you hear him yell 'Fragment!' (But if your oversight committee
won't adjourn, it's perfectly fine to seek professional help.)
If you want to go deep with web-writing, go to the experts. The
same company that offers Make Your Site Sell! 2002, offers a resource
called Make Your Words Sell.
Do I need to tell you why selling is relevant?
- You want to write on the web about your practice and your
- You want to get your message across, and
- You want them to respond.
...right? Well, then you need to "sell" them. Hey,
if you're like I used to be, you hate the idea of selling anybody
anything. But the fact is, selling is just communicating. And
you want to communicate- that's why you're reading this article.
- or -
More About Online Writing for Acupuncturists
When I opened up the Pulse for columnists, I had to come up with
some writing guidelines. As I was writing this, I realized I should
probably include those for you to see... if you want more, just
head on over to Writing
for the Pulse... Writing Guidelines.
And don't forget... EDIT EDIT EDIT. One of those Strunk &
White guys (I forget which) edits 9 times before publishing. That's
a bit anal, I think... I edit 3 or 4 times before publishing.
You'd be amazed how much you can improve your article or webpage
the 4th time. Make sure you go away and come back to it fresh
Writing for the web is different. It's not a scholarly paper.
It's not the evening news. It's more like a commercial, or a Seinfeld
episode. You've got to grab their attention and keep it. Be personable,
unique... weird, even. I know, that comes natural to you. Kidding
again! (By the way, instead of writing "naturally" which
would be the correct adverb, I realized that it threw off the
flow, and changed it to "natural." It's wrong, grammar-wise,
but it's right for the web!)
I wish you E-njoyable Writing!