And that’s not clickbait. Writing saves lives. Actual lives.
So when accountants bring me in and call my work a soft skill, that fucks me off.
But anyway… that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to talk about my growing list of names of people whose lives my writing has saved. And how you can do the same.
Last year I overheard a conversation about someone’s toddler with severe asthma. They listed a number of incidents where the toddler was in life-threatening situations because they lived too far away from hospital and even an ambulance. They’d had to drive to meet the ambulance on the side of the road a number of times, because waiting could have been fatal.
Every one of those incidents was a situation that could be resolved with a nebuliser in their home.
If they had that, they wouldn’t have needed the hospital or the ambulance. But they had asked their GP multiple times if one would be provided. He had said no.
Enter: your friendly badass rockstar writer.
The power of written records
I knew that when things are in writing, on record, it’s much harder to say no.
I knew that if you need to advocate for yourself in the medical system, that there’s a powerful approach you can use (thanks, Twitter):
When you ask for a test or an assessment or a medication or a treatment and the GP says no, ask them to put your request and their denial of that request on your file.
It means that if, somewhere down the line, it turns out that you were right to make that request and the GP made a wrong call, there’s a record of that. That’s risky for your doctor. It doesn’t look good.
So, often, you asking for that will make them change their mind. Not always. It’s not a guarantee. But if you do it when you need to, then when and if you need it you have evidence to show:
- how you’ve been advocating for your own wellbeing, and
- how the system has been responding.
I whipped up a document
So if we go back to the toddler and her asthma, I whipped up a document. I think it took me 17 minutes.
The document was a template which put the family’s request for a nebuliser IN WRITING, and listed recent incidents as evidence to support that request.
The family took the document to the doctor, and HELLO, nebuliser in the home.
Just like that. After months and months of distress and worry.
The document was simple. It was SO FAST for me to throw together.
And so started the actual list of lives my writing has saved.
My list is growing
This week I added one of my daughters’ names to that list.
I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve written in the last 2 weeks, cc’ing in the universe, to push back against systems that aren’t providing her with the care she needs.
It has been a battle, I tell you.
But every email I’ve written, every time I’ve hit send, I’ve increased the power of my voice in advocating for her.
I’ve created an evidence trail of what’s been happening, what she needs, and HELD THE PEOPLE AND ORGANISATIONS ACCOUNTABLE.
But at the end of a long day where I’ve added 14 powerful emails to the paper trail and my daughter is still alive and is the safest she’s been in months, I wanted to tell you.
Don’t forget that writing saves lives.
A word of caution
For this kind of writing to be as powerful as possible, you need it to be sharp. And when I say sharp, I mean:
- TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. Just making noise in public isn’t enough.
- Concise, not waffly
- Factual, matter-of-fact, and not overly emotive
- Assertive – 100% clear on what the problem is, and what you want done about it
- It might need a timeframe – eg URGENT response required by COB today
- And in some cases, or eventually, it might need an or else. You might need to let them know what your next steps will be if they don’t act or respond
You can’t just write and blow off steam and rip people new ones via email and expect that will get you results.
So, m’loves, what in your world do you need a written record of?
What will give your voice more weight when it’s ON THE RECORD?
Cos the written word has POWER. It has WEIGHT. It changes things. It gets heard differently. It gets listened to.
Go and write something that will reclaim your power. And maybe even save a life.
And PLEASE fucking stop calling writing a soft skill.
Are YOU ready?
So, if you’re ready to save lives (or save other people medical bills from when you’ve ripped them a new one and they have to get it fixed, and…and…let’s not go there), how about you download my AMAZING PDF on how to write emails that save lives?
You look smart. Go on.