If you follow ACHSedu on Facebook, you might have seen our recent post asking the question, "If you could change one thing within our food culture or medical culture, what would it be?" If not, it's all good. I'm happy to fill you in. We received more than 35 comments with incredibly thoughtful answers addressing topics ranging from genetically modified foods to health practitioner advocacy to the need for more education. For me, reading these posts was an unexpectedly heartening experience. Why? As Dean of English at the American College of Healthcare Sciences, I know we have an amazing community, each member with a unique story and passion for holistic health. And while that knowledge touches me every time I engage with our community, in this case, as a writer, it was the "power of the post" that really spoke to me.
Which got me thinking … How important is writing, really, for ACHS students and graduates, and the holistic health community at large?
(As a side note, we could debate the topic of social media and whether or not it is “real” writing until we are blue in the face. And, maybe we can do that another time. I’m always up for a lively discussion. For the purposes of this post, though, I just want to talk about the role of writing—via social media, articles, marketing materials, etc.—as a communication tool at-large. I hope you’re cool with that. :] )
Now, I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of you in my ACHS writing classes before. To you, let me say off the bat, thank you for all your hard work (I know that writing is not necessarily everyone’s favorite topic. What can I say, I was just born this way!), and some of what I am about to say next may sound familiar. For those who I have not met in an ACHS writing class (yet?), what I really want to talk about are the questions you’re asking:
Why do I need to study writing for my holistic health education? I'm not a "writer," so why would I want to take a writing class? Why are writing classes (like ENG 101 and ENG 201) required as part of the ACHS Associate of Applied Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine program? I mean, didn’t you enroll with ACHS to learn about aromatherapy or herbal medicine or holistic nutrition? What does writing have to do with making aromatherapy blends or herbal teas or nutritious meal planning for clients?
Let me ask you this question first: what brought you to your ACHS program or your holistic health practice in general? Was it your motivation to maintain the status quo, or are you like the more than 35 people who posted to our ACHSedu Facebook page about wanting to see change in our food and medicine culture and, perhaps more importantly, wanting to be an instrument of that change?
I suspect, if you’re reading this blog, that you fall into the later category. So my answer to your question “why do I have to write” is rather simple: writing is a powerful tool. You can be an amazing aromatherapist, but if you can’t effectively communicate your core philosophy in your marketing materials, will you attract the clients you want to work with? You can be a gifted herbalist, the ultimate green thumb, but if you can’t clearly communicate the recipes and directions of use on the products you make for clients, are you upholding your ethical responsibility? You can be a brilliant physician or naturopathic doctor wildly dedicated to community education about the health benefits of CAM for diabetes or asthma ... but if you can’t get your information into the hands of the people who need it, are you effectively sharing your gifts with the world?
These are just a few hypothetical questions for you to think about for why we study writing. In ACHS's writing course ENG 101: English Composition I Online you will be learning about grammar and sentence structure and punctuation. Don't worry; you’d be in good company if your first response was something like, “Eeeeeeeeek.” But, truth be told, grammar and sentence structure and punctuation ARE the very foundational skills required to write a persuasive manifesto or marketing brochure or credible research article for publication (which, FYI, you will do in ENG 201: English Composition II Online).
I am not saying you have to love, live, breathe, or even like writing to be an effective writer. What I am saying is this: what you say and how you to choose to say it matters. I think author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams said it best in her book, When Women Were Birds: “CONVERSATION is the vehicle for change.” That’s what writing is—a conversation—whether you are writing a comment for Facebook, the discussion board in your ACHS classroom, a blog post, a research paper, an herbal medicine or aromatherapy recipe, or a holistic health article for publication. Many feared that the English language was going to die an ugly death at the hands of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, but in fact these online tools give us a brave new world to share good writing! No marketing strategy for your holistic health and wellness coaching business is complete without a robust writing strategy! That's why it's important to take writing classes, to learn how to be an effective writer, as a holistic health student.
So, if you’re interested in change, really interested in change, for yourself, for your friends, for your family, and/or for your community, why not study writing? Learn how to share your unique story, your voice, your message, your passion for holistic health and wellness, your skills as a practitioner, your gifts with the world in a way that “has legs” (AND with an accredited institution that understands what holistic health and wellness really mean to you). Writing has the power to cross distances, literally and figuratively, to "spread the word" about what's important to you. All you have to do is be willing to have the conversation. And, I hope you do. I really hope you do.
If you have any questions about the writing requirements at ACHS or the specific writing skills/topics covered in ACHS writing courses, you are more than welcome to post your questions here in the comments section, and I will get back to you ASAP ... in writing, and with brilliance (wink wink).
And also be sure to check out some excellent writing in our free ACHS eBooks by clicking the button below.
You can also learn more about the ACHS writing courses ENG 100, ENG 101, and ENG 201, along with the rest of the offered courses on the ACHS website.