There is something so satisfying about staring at a blank page, beginning to type, and watching a story come to life.
I have always loved to write.
In fact, I actually got my first article published in USA Cycling magazine at the ripe age of eleven years old after I recounted my first “adult” mountain bike race. There was some local buzz about my achievement, and one local paper wrote, “It’s no easy feat getting an article printed in a national publication. Who knows, maybe we’ve witnessed the beginning of a future career in travel or sports writing.”
Fast forward seventeen years later, and my computer is chock-full of word docs filled with stories and ideas I’ve shared only with myself up—until a few weeks ago.
For many of us, our passion for writing is obvious, but the path to becoming a working writer is far more elusive. Because of this, dreams of writing often morph into more “practical” solutions.
In my case, I pursued a career in physical therapy due to the seemingly endless opportunities and excellent job security. At least that was the solution I came up with after extensive research and dozens of pro-con lists.
Why I decided to become a PT writer.
Physical therapy is a great career, and I have enjoyed many aspects of it, but there are several reasons that drive me to seek work that does not involve direct patient care.
- I have started to feel burned out. The Non-Clinical PT has shown us that it’s very possible to make a career change from physical therapy—and that pursuing non-clinical jobs in healthcare is anything but a waste of your education.
- I love to write. Even more profound than my struggles with full-time PT work is my love for writing. I simply love to write. One thing I have realized is that you can’t hide from passion, at least not for long. It will resurface, find you again, and linger in your daydreams. You get the idea, and maybe have been experiencing this yourself!
The urge to “follow my dreams” has been bouncing around my head for a while, but was often squashed by thoughts of ever-looming monthly student loan payments, and fear of “what it will mean” to leave the traditional career path of a physical therapist.
Fortunately, I have found a way to meet these fears head-on and, with some guidance and motivation from new colleagues (I’m looking at you, The Non-Clinical PT!), I’m taking steps toward transitioning to becoming a working writer.
You should expect that the transition might be gradual— and you should certainly be strategic in your efforts.
The following steps will help to guide you down a path that has taken me a long time find.
But what you must realize is the first step to becoming a writer is to get your work out there.
This certainly takes bravery at the start, but having published pieces allows you to establish yourself as a legitimate writer, build your portfolio, and network.
Seeing your writing published also validates your place in the writing world, from others’ perspectives…and your own!
1. Start a blog.
The beauty of our modern-day world is that you can write and share your work with others as much as you please through mediums such as social media or blogging.
Blogs are great.
You can write what you want, when you want, and you can easily share your unique wisdom with the world.
Make sure that before you start a blog, you have a clear idea of the readership you are trying to grow. It will be much easier to drive attention to your blog when people know what they can get out of being there.
Essentially this means that you should establish yourself as an expert in something. You ARE an expert in something. In my case, being a PT who lives with chronic pain has truly made me an expert on the topic, which is what I write about in my blog, The Chronic Lifestyle.
The information you provide needs to be useful, informative, and, dare I say— entertaining—to your readers in order to keep them coming back for more.
Make sure you are consistently providing your readers with new and exciting content. And of course, make sure the caliber of your writing is the same as if you were submitting each piece of writing to a publisher.
2. Reach out to growing publications to offer a guest post.
An excellent way to establish yourself as a writer is to reach out to other growing publications and offer to contribute a guest post. By connecting and working with others who are in a related niche or interest group, you will be able to build a network of like-minded professionals and writers.
Building a strong community is key when trying to break into this field.
I’m sure you realize that becoming a writer is not typically a “get rich quick” kind of gig. You should be willing (and eager!) to make contributions initially for free.
Work diligently with the publication to make sure that your content reflects what they are looking for, but don’t be afraid to let your voice shine through!
Curious which publications welcome guest posts from physical therapists? This article covers it!
Volunteer to write a blog post for your current job.
Many physical therapy practices are now starting blogs to provide their patients with helpful resources to aid in their rehabilitation, and provide necessary education that can empower and inform patients about their diagnoses. Volunteer to contribute to the blog!
This is a great way to publish your work and contribute positively to your current workplace. With this type of contribution, you are clearly leveraging your physical therapy degree while also building your writing portfolio.
If your practice does not currently have a blog, and you feel comfortable doing so, suggest the idea to your boss!
But be ready to take on the brunt of the blog design and content development at first. Also, be prepared for an exit plan if you don’t plan on being associated with this clinic forever.
3. Stay positive and keep writing.
When you’re a physical therapist, writing skills are invaluable. We, as physical therapists, have a unique, expert knowledge base that can benefit so many people.
Remember that when you write, you are able to extend your reach and share your expertise with readers far and wide.
But every writer has to begin somewhere. Don’t be afraid to start to put your work out there, even if you feel that your portfolio is a little underdeveloped at the moment.
Keep writing, networking, and developing your content. Stay positive that your writing skills will get noticed—and remember that each article you publish is a small step towards your career as physical therapy writer!