Writing as a Job
There was an @ACW1971 tweet in August reminding us to be grateful for our writing skills and the ability to express ideas. It went on to ask what skills members were using that week. Creating plot? Imagery in a poem? Crafting an argument in an article?
Answers came up like editing, creating character, writing blog posts. And I was about reply with something light hearted, maybe even a little facetious, about the only writing skills I would be using would be for patient notes and ordering equipment. Hardly creative and it didn’t feel like skillful either.
But then my thoughts wandered off down a little snicketway of an idea with the signpost ‘the value of writing as work’…
Now I don’t mean the obvious idea of a writing job like author, poet, or journalist. But how many of us write as part of our jobs? And how much do we value the skills we use in these day to day, far less romantic tasks of writing?
For my own job, I have to write up all my visits, assessments, plans, and interventions for patients. I document multi disciplinary team meeting discussions. I define referral and triage criteria. I set out justifications for standard and specialist equipment requests. I put together information leaflets. I produce PowerPoint presentations and teaching materials. I write relaxation scripts. Not to mention all the emails – to fellow professionals, patients, relatives, company reps. And don’t get me started on the piles of paperwork to apply for Continuing Healthcare funding for specialist equipment and care!
It may not seem very creative or glamorous but that’s actually quite a lot of writing! And there are definite skills to do these well.
I need to show clear evidence and reasoning. I need to be able to identify and document the most important points succinctly (thank you to Miss Duffel, my English teacher, for all those lessons on precising and summarising). I need to consider who I am writing for and tailor my language accordingly. I need to craft my material so that audiences easily understand and remember it. I need to dial back my frustration and dial up skills of diplomacy, encouragement, and persuasion to help my patients get what they need.
How about your jobs (paid or unpaid) where you are using your writing skills? Crafting sermons. Putting together newsletters. Writing letters or emails. Lesson plans. Filling in application forms. Drawing up adverts. Writing reports, proposals, evaluations.
What are the writing skills you are practising without even realising? Or acknowledging?
For a while, our local ACW Group was often just four of us meeting: a novelist, a blogger, a poet, and an academic paper writer. It would be easy to categorise one or some of these as more creative or more skillful than others. But it’s not true. There are overlaps of skills across the range. Lessons to be learned from each other’s disciplines and approaches. To elevate one above another as being more of a real writer would be like saying a painter is more of an artist than a sculptor.
It’s easy when fulltime jobs or other responsibilities limit our time for the writing we are passionate about so we forget that God may still be using these boring daily tasks as exercises to hone our craft. That summarising a patient’s multiple diagnoses on a medical notes may be practise for editing a blog post that has gone over its designated word count. That writing a business proposal may improve skills for writing a book proposal. That drawing up a lesson plan could be a means towards drawing up a plan for a novel or a sermon.
And not only that, but God, Whose values seem so often upside down and back to front compared to ours, Who declared ‘the last to be first’ and spent more time with the undervalued in society than the influencers and powerful, may actually consider these small menial writing tasks to be just as, or even more, important than the big, more attention grabbing, more creatively satisfying ones.Whether fulltime or spare time, paid or unpaid, our occupation or part of another occupation, God has called us to be writers. Let’s use and grow those skills in whatever setting He gives the opportunity.
Liz Manning fits writing around being an Occupational Therapist, BB captain, wife, and mum to two adults. Or perhaps it's the other way round. She blogs regularly at https://thestufflifeismadeofblog.wordpress.com/, has two WIPs and more ideas in the pipeline.