There is hardly any subject area where there is so much to consider for editors as in the health sector. Complicated facts, legal regulations and sensitive content – in a seemingly endless confusion of technical terms, specifications and restrictions, it is important to keep a cool head to have room for creativity at the same time. Because at the end of the day, the text should be well received by both the client and the reader. We'll tell you what makes or breaks a good healthcare editor.
1. Keeping a personal touch
Good preparation is half the battle. This is especially true when writing about health. Health topics are often highly complex. Often you’ve most likely never heard a single word about a particular disease or drug before. In addition, there are legal regulations in health communication that must be observed. So first of all, you should concentrate on one thing: research, research, research! But where to start? One thing is certain: The beginning of a good text does not always commence in the office chair. Especially in creative processes, it can often be helpful to literally take your work home with you. A round of discussions with family and friends often offers first points of contact to initially unknown areas. Health topics can also have very special, intimate components – personal stories and influences help to loosen up the content and become more appealing to the readers.
2. Finding the right balance
One of the biggest mistakes as a healthcare editor is not to deal intensively enough with the client. While each editor's own style is his or her own trademark, the art lies in skillfully linking it to the company's identity. Therefore, it is helpful to screen the client thoroughly in advance. The website, social media channels and personal interviews provide a lot of information about the tonality and character of a company. These should ultimately be reflected in the text and at the same time be in perfect balance with one's own writing style.
3. Changing the perspective
Health topics are often sensitive – precision and absolute correctness are the most important factors of the content. However, if the information is being presented too detailed, it can be counterproductive – therefore, complicated topics have to be broken down and verbalized in a way that is understandable – even for laypersons. The perspective of the reader should never be lost out of sight. Writing requires a simple, clear style: short sentences, concise statements and don’t hesitate to repeat detailed information.
4. Know yourself
It’s the worst nightmare of every editor, no matter how professionally they might be: The writer's block. Suddenly every single word sounds wrong, the fingers tiredly hang above the keyboard and the creativity just doesn't want to flow anymore. Don't worry, writer's block is perfectly normal. The question is: How to deal with the annoying knot in your head? First of all, there is no point in forcing anything. As hard as it might be – being despaired hasn't yet made any writer's block disappear. The first step to unblocking it is to simply accept it. Whether it's a good coffee, some exercise or music – it's up to you to find out which strategy will get your creativity flowing again.
5. Timing is everything – right?
In everyday working life it is crucial to know yourself and your habits quite well. You could uproot trees in the morning and feel unbeatable? Or are you more of a morning grumper and don't really wake up until you’ve had your third coffee? Knowing about your own strengths and weaknesses helps you to cope with the hardest challenge in everyday editorial work: Time management. Especially in creative work, the balance between artistic freedom and tight organization can be difficult to manage. But when time is running short, there’s always one thing that’s important: Quality comes first. Because when it comes to topics such as the right treatment or the symptoms of an illness, no mistakes should be made.
6. A responsible use of language
Language is a powerful instrument. Just a single word can make you happy or sad, and one sentence can change the world. Hardly any other area has such existential fears and hopes attached to it as the healthcare industry. Therefore, a particularly careful communication is in demand. As an editor one should be aware of the responsibility and the effects of language and use words with care and sensitivity.
7. The three must-haves in everyday editorial work
Creativity is often about one thing: spontaneity. And nothing is more annoying than letting a good idea just pass by. That's why an editor should always carry around two things: a pen and a pad to capture every short and valuable thought. Even when it comes to interviews, this classic way of taking notes might be oldschool, but it’s the only way important thoughts can be noted during the conversation. However, health topics are full of technical terms and complicated expressions. In order not to lose track, the dictation machine is an absolute must have in addition to pen and paper.
8. Never lose your curiosity
Last but not least: The most important quality of any good editor is to keep your eyes open and walk through life with curiosity. Because the best thing about working in this area is that there are always new stories to tell. A fundamental curiosity for new content and topics is indispensable when it comes to everyday editorial work. Those who also like to deal with new things in their private lives will find it much easier to do so in their professional lives.
One thing is certain: health issues come with a number of communication challenges. But these special features make writing about man’s greatest good so exciting. The path to a good text often starts with yourself and evolves through balance between the needs of the client and the perspective of the reader.
Credit: ©Svyatoslav Lypynskyy/Adobe Stock