(A SoMeDocs Advice Project)
* Louis Profeta, MD *
What are you really good at?
Writing for the masses and creating viral content that resonates with the average reader. I understand that writing has to have a poetic rhythm to be powerful. It actually has to physically move the reader.
Have you had any formal training in this? Any course or preparatory recommendations?
I have had no formal training, it comes from years of trial and error. I pay close attention to what content and style resonates with people, and what doesn’t. I learn from my mistakes.
How do you fit your skill into your day? What’s your ‘secret sauce’ (aka: any special secrets)?
I am writing in my head all day long every day. I am always looking at simple scenes and trying to create imagery with words. I find myself practicing on the mundane. I look at a boring scene and try to imagine it as something else. It actually makes the world more spiritual.
What are three excellent tips you have for those who look to excel in what you’re great at?
- Find someone who writes like you want to write, send them a piece of your work and ask them to rewrite it in THEIR style as if they were writing it. I do this all the time. It’s the easiest way for writers to see how they might be failing at their craft. But you have to put your ego aside. If you are writing to impact a large number of people then try this approach. If you’re writing for yourself or as a hobby just do it on your own. I do this frequently for people who are giving speeches. They send me their speeches and their content may be good, the points they want to get across are great but the style and the motion are all wrong and they will lose their audience in the delivery. It’s humbling for doctors to do this. I’ve taken an entire manuscript a physician sent me once and X’d out every page except one then circled a key sentence in the text that the author almost had hidden that was the subtle, highly charged and emotional reason that he was writing this piece and I said. “When you are ready to tell me THIS story and send it back.”
- Understand your audience. They don’t want to be lectured to. Way too many physician writers lecture to their readers then wonder why they can’t expand their audience. Your readers will expand your audience organically…but only if they like what you offer.
- Read your work over and over and if you find yourself stumbling at any point or uneasy with any line, that’s your problem bit of text. Delete it and start over. Let whatever you write sit for a few weeks, don’t look at it even. Then revisit and you’ll be amazed at how much you will eliminate. I have essays in my file that are five years old that I have yet to publish. It also allows you to release them when certain topics come up in popular culture.
What is one single, most valuable piece of advice you can impart?
There are people who have stories and there are people who can tell stories. It takes a ton of practice, a willingness to open yourself up, and the ability to put aside your ego to be able to do both. Don’t think that just because you have a graduate degree it somehow gives you a leg up on either of those two facts.
Where can we find more of you?