Stop procrastinating. Start writing.

by Dr. Alison Chen ND | Follow on Twitter

I never sought out to be a writer. I never wanted to write a book. And I definitely didn’t think of myself as a “good” writer.

I WRITE 6-10 ARTICLES A MONTH for my personal site and post another 8 articles a month for theNDDC.

When I started my website and blog in 3rd year of Naturopathic school I thought it would be fun. I wanted to set up a site for potential patients to follow me and get some experience writing on the topics I was learning about in school.

It started off as a study tool and place to write about my experiences, but then I got busy and stopped writing as often.

I only had a small following of students and friends, but every time my writing started to take a back seat I would get a gentle push to start up again. Sometimes it was an email from a reader thanking me for one of my posts or an inquiry about becoming a Naturopathic doctor that had my inspiration sparked once again.

I started and stopped. Then would start again. I would write infrequently, and poorly, but I wrote and that’s where my habits began.

It wasn’t until I wanted to create a product to sell that I started to formulate a writing schedule. The schedule happened as a by-product of a project that is still on going. So far, it’s the only successful way that I’ve kept consistent with my writing to actually start building a following and an information database.

Once you have a database of your own work, you can turn that into many other products and alternate sources of income.

Why should you blog?

Blogging is a way to become the expert. It’s a way for you to write about your interests and vast knowledge of health and sustainable living.

It’s a way to reach those people on the fence and educate them about what Naturopathic medicine is and why to lead a healthier life.

It’s also the buy in. Before a patient comes to see you in the clinic or purchases a product of yours, they need to buy into what you offer. They need to believe that you can help them. It could be the success of a patient they know, a recommendation from a colleague or them browsing the net and happening across your work.

A potential client needs to gain your trust before you even knowing they exist. If they sign-up for your newsletter, re-post your work, or email a recipe of yours to a friend, they are giving you permission to enter into their world. Layer by layer you become more trusted if you continue to deliver high quality and consistent information.

After time, you can become their go-to resource on specific topics. Writing a blog is the easiest way to secure your position as the expert to an expansive audience.

How to start a blog

There are 3 main ways to get your website and blog up on the internet. Your goals and vision for your future site will determine which type to use:

  1. Free blogging sites
  2. Your own domain with free hosting
  3. Your own domain with paid hosting

Read the following article to decide whether you should build your own website or pay someone to do it for you.

There are several steps to choosing your domain, setting up your hosting and building the backbone of your website. Instead of taking on the daunting task of Googling each step on your own, I’ve done it for you. Download your free copy of “Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint” when you’re ready to get your website and blog up.

START NOW Button (web internet power on continue click here go)Once you’ve set up your website, you’ll need some content to write about. This can be the easiest and hardest thing for someone with the wealth of knowledge that you have. There are so many things to write about that it can be overwhelming.

I spent years trying to force myself to write on a regular basis with little luck. The only times I was successful in completing an article was while I was motivated. If I tried to schedule a time to write, my creativity was underwhelming and I’d end up staring at a blank screen.

How I Write Consistently

Simple. I create schedules and deadlines for myself.

“Simple does not mean easy” <– click here to tweet this

After graduating from CCNM and passing my NPLEX board exams I thought “YES, no more late night study sessions and cramming to finish assignments!”

So I went a few months enjoying life again. Seeing old friends, traveling and experiencing life.

Ideas were flooding my brain, but I was being pulled towards various paths and projects. There was a lot of new things I was trying, which scared me.

I’d start one thing, then stop and go another direction thinking that that project wasn’t exactly right. I’d think of another and then get nervous and feel insecure. At one point I completely stopped taking on things because I was so scared to fail.

I needed to create a schedule for myself to get my writing done. I no longer had due dates or people telling me when to hand in my work. So I had to set my own deadlines and stay accountable.

Deadlines aren’t for all people. The stress of finishing something on time can stifles creativity. It can have you making more mistakes and not doing as good of a job as you’d like to.

But as most Naturopathic doctors realize, quality is not our problem. We love to procrastinate and find many (valuable) things to procrastinate with.

I go through periods of having lots of ideas and I make sure to write them all down. Even tough I only take on a very small fraction of those ideas, getting into the flow of creativity is key. Working that idea muscle is important, especially if you need to create a schedule to get your writing done.

Working the idea muscle

Most of my ideas come during long walks with my partner, others just before bed.

But this wasn’t always the case. I had to train my idea muscle by writing out 10 ideas every morning. I would write them out no matter how silly, outrageous or impossible they seemed.

Often one or two of these ideas would develop throughout the day become more detailed. Others I passed off to friends who I thought would be well suited for. But the majority just stay in my book. It was the process and not the outcome that I was working for.

Now, I use charts to organize my thoughts and I add to the document whenever I have ideas. Waiting till you sit down for your 1 hour a week to be creative doesn’t always work. Try keeping track by writing things down in a notebook or scrap of paper, then transfer it into your document. Click here for a sample schedule tracker.

How to create a schedule

I have my entire year planned out. Ever article for the whole year is set so I don’t have to think… This isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.

I sat down over the course of 1 week and wrote out any general tip of information that I’d want my patients to know. Many of these tips are “common sense” to us but invaluable to the general public. Something as simple as “drink 5 glasses of water” could really influence the health of an individual.

I took these tips and assign a major topic for each. For example, if created a category on water/ hydration and listed the following as points to discuss:

  • drinking more water
  • why water is so healthy and necessary
  • getting your drinking water quality checked
  • what to avoid (mineral deficiency, toxins, soft plastic, rusty pipes)
  • best quality of water for drinking and bathing
  • purchasing a filtration system
  • making water more fun with natural fruits and vegetables

Now we have the backbone of a great article. I like having headings to direct the flow of content and keep the reader interested. It it also much easier to fill in the blanks of information by specifically researching these point rather than trying to start an article from scratch.

Use my excel spreadsheet as a template and guide to creating your own schedule:

Click image to download an example of a Writing Schedule.

Click image to download an example of a Writing Schedule.

Basic concepts work well when writing to a broad audience (ie. Hydration). If you are writing for a niche market the detail may matter more.

Creating a schedule only works if you are committed to the deadlines. By telling my audience that I am going to be posting an article twice a week, I’ve made a commitment that I am not easily going to break. This keeps me accountable and on track.

Also, don’t be afraid to collaborate with other practitioners or re-post great content with the author’s permission. If you have 3 colleagues who can write 1 article a month, that will take the pressure off you needing to do all the work and will bring new insight, writing styles and hopefully a bigger audience to your page.

You don’t have to be perfect

Write something that offers value and is well researched and put it out. You can always make changes and alterations later on if you ever want to reuse it for another article or patient handout.

Get in the habit of putting yourself out there. It may sound scary, but if you really think of the bigger picture you can get through it.

Think of the worst case scenario and really see if it’s that bad. Don’t be afraid to make a bold statement if you really believe in it and have the research or experience to back it up.

What do I write about?

Write from your experiences.

Using patients as your inspiration is fantastic. You’ve already done the research and work, all you need to do is package it up. Use that inspiration to write your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get the outline down, you can always fill in the blanks afterwards. Makes sure your post contains the following:

  1. outline the problem as a personal or fictional story (ie. how I couldn’t write consistently on my blog)
  2. list the solutions and actionable steps your reader can take (ie. create a schedule and be accountable)
  3. have a call to action (ie. sign-up to get the Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint, read related articles, share on social media, purchase a related product)

Things to Keep in Mind

What are your goals for your future website, clinic, career and lifestyle?
Do you want to market yourself as an expert in a niche?
Who is your audience? Who are you writing for?
What problem are you fixing? How can you help the reader?

I wasn’t working in a conventional clinic and so I decided to create a product to sell. This product is still in the works and writing articles is part of the process.

The best topics I find are the foundations of health. We know them inside and out, but there are many people who don’t. You website should cover (at the very least) the importance of:

  • sleep
  • exercise and staying active
  • varied and balanced diet
  • hydration
  • mental and emotional stress management
  • community support

This year I’ll be getting back to seeing patients in the clinic. Their individualized treatment protocols is something I will discuss with them in details and in person. What I want my patients to take away from my articles are those daily reminders to– drink more water, eat a variety of foods, go to bed on time, practice healthier coping mechanisms, etc.

These are the types of things I write about because they apply to all people. Even if I decide to focus my practice to a niche population, these foundations of health will always be there.

And the great thing is, after writing a thorough post I can reuse the content on 4-5 other articles, re-purpose them on other people’s websites, use for patient handouts, combine a few topics to create an e-book (to sell or in exchange for your reader’s email), and potentially to even write a book from the collection of materials.

If you want to try your hand at writing, theNDDC is always looking for great content that can help the industry propel forward. Please send article inquiries to editorial@theNDDC.com and visit the Contribution Page for more details.
About the Author
Dr. Alison Chen ND

Dr. Alison Chen ND graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and was the recipient of the humanitarian award. Her background in competitive gymnastics, personal training, and volunteer work in Africa gives her a well-rounded view to living well.   Since graduating Alison has traveled the world exploring different ways to think and teach about healing. She believes that education should be consumable and fun, so she created theNDDC and wrote an illustrated rhyming book about poo. Seriously, check out the poo book on Amazon here.