Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.
To help other writers, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success and I’m delighted to bring the feature back for a second season! You’ll find all the Top 10 Writing Tip articles here.
Meet Mary Dalgleish
Mary Dalgleish has worked as a complementary therapist since 1999. She has also worked as a lecturer in the complementary therapy departments of several London colleges and over the years she has taught a range of continuing professional development massage courses for qualified therapists. She has recently retired from clinical practice and now lives in the Cotswolds where she enjoys walking in the great outdoors.
Mary has written and published several health related books to date – her latest being a book (+ workbook) entitled “Know your Body – The Essential Guide to Human Anatomy and Physiology”. Mary is passionate about health and wellbeing and is Vice President of the Federation of Holistic Therapists, the largest professional association for complementary, holistic beauty and sports therapists, as well as those starting out or teaching in this exciting and growing industry.
Mary’s Top 10 Writing Tips:
Choose your subject carefully: If you are writing a book relating to your work or business, you may find there are so many subjects you can write about. Choose a niche topic if possible – I write non-fiction, health-related books and my first book (which I co-authored with a colleague) was on the subject of an ancient healing art called ‘ear candling’ as we realised there were no comprehensive books available on the subject. We had to do quite a bit of research to prove to the publisher that this book was needed and luckily they agreed! They liked our style and commissioned a second book on another topic.
Plan your content: Being clear on your subject before you start writing and having a structured plan will make things easier for you. I use ‘post-it notes’ to write down all the topics that should be in my books and then arrange them in a logical sequence. This framework helps avoid writer’s block, creates clarity and prevents me feeling overwhelmed.
Create a dedicated writing space and do your chores before you start writing: Find a calm, focused space for your writing where you will have the minimum amount of distraction – ideally it should be quiet, clean, clutter free, and non-distracting with nothing around to tempt you away from writing. For some people it may be the same spot in a local café or library.
Get the important things you need to do done before you start writing. I’m easily distracted and when I sit down to write I suddenly remember all the ‘chores’ I need to do – by doing them first I have no excuse!
Think about your ideal reader: Before your start, think about what your ideal audience or reader is and plan accordingly. My recent anatomy and physiology book was based on material from my 20 years of teaching this subject to complementary therapy students. In planning the book I looked at the anatomy and physiology curriculum requirements of various exam boards and made sure to cover all of these topics in my book so that it would be a good resource for students. I also wanted it to appeal to anyone with an interest in the human body and included commonsense tips on how to maintain a healthy body. My reviews have been favourable so far and I hope I have achieved my aims.
Make notes: Keep a notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas – I keep one by my bed as I often think of something just before I fall asleep and if I don’t write it down I’m sure to have forgotten it by morning! You can also use a smartphone with a note-taking app or a voice-recording app for recording notes and ideas.
Give yourself realistic deadlines: Deadlines will help you focus and even if these deadlines move a little, they give you a focus to work towards. Plan out time to write and put it in your diary – also make sure you factor in time to play as well as work! Think about – When will you finish the first draft? When will you get it to the editor? When will you launch it?
Get help from publishing professionals: When I was writing for a publishing house, all I had to do was provide the content. However, when my books went out of print I managed to get the rights back and decided to self-publish them. I couldn’t have done such a good job without the help of a professional formatter, editor, proofreader, and cover designer and I used the services of all these professionals again with my latest book.
Read your work out loud: Reading your work out loud will also help you view your work as a ‘reader’ rather than a ‘writer’ and helps you to spot errors too!
Seek out criticism: Ask different people to read your writing and to respond to it honestly. I had several close colleagues read my first drafts and the comments they made were extremely valuable – even if I didn’t like what they said when I first read it. However, I now feel they helped me produce a better book.
Marketing: Authors are often not business headed and ‘marketing’ can seem like a minefield. It can be challenging to know how to get your published book into the hands of readers amidst an ever-growing sea of competition. I know I’m not the best in this area and my pre-launch book promotion was a bit of a damp squib as I was moving house around the same time! At the very least I have found it useful to have an author website I can direct people to so they can discover more about and buy my books. I’ve also been helped by ‘influencers’ who are more social media savvy than I am, and who have recommended my books to their networks – positive reviews from others make much more of an impact than me telling people how wonderful my books are! Next time I write a book, I will add professional marketing help to my list.
Thanks to Mary for sharing her top tips with us. You can connect with her here:
BUY a copy of Know Your Body: A Complete Guide to Anatomy & Physiology from Amazon UK
“Mary Dalgleish has created an eminently accessible and informative book. Whilst containing detailed information regarding human anatomy and physiology appropriate for the medical level, it remains a delightful and pleasing read. A deep and expansive addition to any library; it is an edition no serious student of human health should be without!”
Whether you’re a student, an aspiring medical, healthcare, or fitness professional, or just someone who’s curious about the human body and how it works, this book offers you an accessible way to understand the basics of human anatomy and physiology. Written in a clear, user-friendly style, it provides all the information necessary to meet and exceed the anatomy and physiology curriculum requirements of international awarding bodies. The content addresses all the topics (and more!) listed on the anatomy and physiology syllabi of major UK exam boards. Complete with over 100 detailed anatomical illustrations, this essential guide provides:
- Clear descriptions of anatomical terminology
- An understanding of the structure and function of all body systems
- An understanding of the interrelationships between body systems
- Up to date information about key pathologies affecting the body
- The lowdown on topics such as genetics, telomeres, novel viral infections, metabolic syndrome, psychoneuroimmunology, fascia, and more
- Common sense tips for maintaining a healthy body
- An insight into how and why the body ages
- References and resources for further study
For students, the accompanying ‘KNOW YOUR BODY – Workbook’ is an excellent revision aid for use in the classroom or for home study.
The author, Mary Dalgleish, has over 20 years experience of in teaching anatomy and physiology to complementary therapy students. ‘KNOW YOUR BODY The Essential Guide to Human Anatomy and Physiology’ was submitted to the Page Turner Awards 2020 and the author was among the writing award finalists!