(I’m going to write a list. I’m very list-y; it’s my attempt to feign organizational skills).
- You have to learn how to take care of a patient.
There was college, and medical school, and residency… and after years of practice, I’m still learning. Writing is the same in that you can’t, de novo, write a perfect anything the first time you type onto a Word document. That doesn’t mean that the first thing you’ve written has no value. But writing is a craft. Constantly striving to improve your craft is a must.
- Not everyone can be a doctor, but a doctor can come from anywhere.
Okay, so I stole this line from the movie Ratatouille. But it’s true. Same with writers. And genius rat chefs.
- Good doctors take care of a person, not a diagnosis.
Good writers take care of the story as a whole. They don’t just fix one little plot or character problem, without seeing how it affects the entire feel and flow of the story. Our written work isn’t a piece of meat. It’s a living, breathing thing that’s complex and sometimes difficult to handle; but if you attack it by looking through a microscope without seeing the big picture, you’re in trouble.
- Never underestimate the benefit of a consultation.
Patients are complicated; novels are complicated. Sometimes we get so close that we can’t see the obvious anymore. A fresh pair of eyes can be truly illuminating. So if you don’t have one, get a crit partner, stat.
- Doctors need vacations, perspective, and yes, to be silly sometimes.
Forget the pipe-smoking curmudgeon in the little shack in the woods. Writing all day and all night isn’t healthy. Don’t forget to live, to love your family, and to have fun.
Thank you Jess, for having me over. You massively increased my cool factor, which is always helpful!