How did your last client feel after their session? How about the one before that and the one before that? Were they happy? Relaxed? Restored? Clients trust us with their precious time and money, and in return we help them along their healing path. And we perform this amazing service using gentle, affordable, and environmentally sustainable methods.
Yet, mistrust and misconceptions of our work flourish. Bodywork therapists are the brunt of sex jokes, movies and TV often portray us as kooks or evil masterminds, and health insurance companies impose exasperating restrictions. What’s wrong with this picture?
While most health care becomes increasingly invasive, complex, and expensive, our magnificent work is, at best, undervalued and at worst ridiculed—that’s what’s wrong with this picture.
So how can we change the public’s perspective? After all, we’re not public relations experts or politicians. We’re healers, focused on caring for our clients and the business of our practices. We don’t have time to spend tooting our own horns. However, the public’s need for affordable, gentle care is growing. Consequently, now is the time for us to reach out. We can advocate for ourselves in many different ways; writing, for example. Writing articles and blogs, tweets and more. Perhaps, you’re considering writing as a pathway for promoting bodywork.
My path began 20 years ago, when I unexpectedly found myself contemplating writing a book.
How My Book Began
When I began practicing Craniosacral Therapy (Cranial for short) twenty years ago my clients were having amazing healing experiences. They were getting better, but many were bewildered, asking about the strange things they were feeling and how something so gentle to be so effective. I looked for Cranial books that would clarify and comfort them, but nothing I found felt quite right. So, I searched for quick explanations that I could give during sessions that would enable my clients to trust their feelings. To my surprise I found they were reassured by descriptions of what other people felt. Clients were fascinated and encouraged by hearing about others' experiences.
One day a client said, "These session stories are amazing, you should write a book," and I began taking notes on sessions that were good examples, unusual, or expanded my understanding of Cranial’s potential. I’d write my observations on whatever I had handy: grocery lists or paper towels. Someday ... someday waaaay in the future, maybe I’d write a book.
After about 10 years of collecting notecards I started to organize and flush out the stories. I’d steal a few minutes here and there, then taking weekend writing retreats once or twice a year. I took a writing class and began to think of myself as a writer. My family and friends listened, offering ideas and encouragement as I cogitated on the structure and principles of the book. Slowly became clear, this was my path for providing information, advice and reassurance for clients, current and potential, and practitioners.
Writing the session notes was fun and I thought turning them into a book would be simple and satisfying. I promptly hit my first snag. Finding the balance between under and over explaining, between the informative and the entertaining was tricky. The process was difficult, but when the words and ideas aligned it was deeply rewarding.
Do You Want to Write A Book?
Here are some general guidelines for writing for publication:
Take a Deep Breath. It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all, understand it all, right now. This is a marathon, no, an ultra-marathon, and if you push too hard you’ll drive yourself crazy. Think of it like a bodywork session—ground yourself and enjoy the richness of the journey.
Begin Pondering Your Goals. Think about your motives, expectations, and objectives. The grammar school Six Ws—who, what, where, when, why, and how—can be remarkably helpful. Who do you want to reach? What do you want to tell them? Why do they care? By and by you’ll want to consider the pathways to publication.
Begin Exploring Your Voice. We each have our own distinct way of looking at the world and methods of communicating that to others. Your unique style of writing is your voice. Will your voice be folksy, authoritative, poetic or funny? Reading diverse literature will show you different ways to express yourself, but in the end, the way to write well is to write. Buy notecards to jot down the flash of brilliance as it strikes. Write a blog, articles for your kid’s PTSA newsletter or a speech to give at the local senior center. While your voice is always evolving, practicing will make it more true, more nuanced, better grammatically and easier (or so I’ve heard).
Accept the Trial and Error of Organizing The Writing. Being successful in your scheduling and writing structure will take some experimentation. Will you write for an hour every day at 5:00 a.m., on your lunch hour, or once a month while doing laundry at the laundromat? How will you organize both the book and the computer files? Consistent filing keeps you from accidently working on different copies of the same section. Consider using a whiteboard or a project management app. This preliminary work may feel futile or laborious, but every minute spent planning will save you hours later on.
Seek Guidance. Classes, writer’s conferences, books and podcasts about writing. Join a writers' group or reach out to your local independent bookstore. Along with all the practicalities of support, adventuring into the writing world is vastly exciting.
Is it Worthwhile? Absolutely. If you stay with the process long enough to get published you’re enriching your profession, sustaining your colleagues, and making the world a better place by offering the public healthier alternatives. But even if you never get published, writing is a bit like traveling to a foreign country. You’ll meet wonderful people, learn new ways of thinking, and gain new perspectives on the world and on yourself.
Jana Panter, ND, lives in Seattle and is honored to help people along their healing path through practicing, teaching, mentoring, and writing about Craniosacral Therapy. Learn more at her website, Oceana Bodyworks.