In two days time, I will close the doors on my chiropractic practice for good. The week leading up to the finale has been busy. On Friday, one of my first patients will be my last and she and I are going for lunch to celebrate. On September first, when people ask me what I do for work, I will tell them I am a writer.
Being a chiropractor for 23 years has helped me become a good writer of fiction. How is that possible? There are several ways:
- I hear about people’s lives, their jobs, their families and what they like to do for fun. This gives me a deep reservoir to draw from in creating characters’ basic details.
- Truth is really stranger than fiction. My patients all have stories to tell. Some of them give me ideas!
- As a doctor working with people who are in pain, you learn to develop empathy, to stand in their shoes. This also helps develop characters. Especially, the villain of the story who a writer may not fully explore. But I have found that even the scoundrels have a reason for why they do what they do.
- I have had to learn to be a good communicator. People in pain are emotional, scared and sometimes even angry. Being able to explain, console and reassure is absolutely vital on the patient’s first visit. Good communication means being concise, not muddying the waters with overly complex and/or technical terminology. This is also the goal of the writer. Unless of course you are writing a technical manual!
- Last but not least, I have had to actually do some writing. I’ve written countless reports for insurance companies, attorneys and claims adjusters. You learn a certain writing style in composing letters and compiling examination findings. While this doesn’t translate directly to fiction writing, it does give you practice in consistency and flow.
I cannot say whether or not I will miss being a chiropractor. I can say that I am excited to begin the next chapter of life. After a little vacation planned for next week, I will return to my war story with renewed dedication this September. And I will work at it as my full time job.
Happy writing and productive editing!