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Member Spotlight: Lisa Doggett

author Lisa Doggett and an image of her book Up the Down Escalator

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started keeping a journal at age 11, writing every day. I think I’ve missed about 5 days since then (I’m 50 now). On a personal level, writing is a way for me process my experiences and better understand myself and my life. It is also an amazing way to connect with others, to exchange ideas, to be heard and to hear back.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I haven’t mastered writer’s block, which can be infuriating, especially when I’m up against a deadline. When I’m struggling, I usually have to step away from my laptop and take a walk or go for a run, take a shower, or listen to music (or even a good escape audiobook). It’s funny how NOT thinking about my writing will often lead to new ideas and help me get over writer’s block.

What is your favorite time to write? I write best in the evening, but my favorite time would be whenever I can find a quiet moment in between other projects and tasks. I’ve also found that writing on the plane is terrific, with few distractions and solid time to focus.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Find a good editor to help you improve your writing. I tried for years to find an agent for my memoir. Finally, I did, but then we couldn’t find a publisher and parted ways. I still wanted a traditional publisher, but I knew my odds weren’t great. A fellow author directed me to a super talented editor. She wasn’t cheap, and it took another year for us to revise my book together, but it was worth every penny. I learned so much. For example, in my book, I described someone reading People magazine. My editor said, “OK, but who’s on the cover of People?” I did two minutes of research online and determined that Patrick Swazi was on the cover that month (he had just died). Such details brought my book to life. Working with a good editor can be a total game-changer, even if you think your work is already great. It helped me land a second agent and a wonderful traditional publisher, where I got to work with another amazing editor. My book is so much better as a result.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Through my memoir and my regular columns for Public Health Watch (a national news outlet focused on important public health problems), I’m able to bring attention to pressing issues, such as the large number of people without insurance in Texas, “moral distress” experienced by many doctors, and inequities within our healthcare system. I hope to spark conversations about difficult subjects and ultimately inspire improvements that will impact lives.

Lisa Doggett’s Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis is out now with ‎ Health Communications Inc.