How is a writer like a paramedic?

Most of my adult life, I spent working as a paramedic. Now my interests are leading me down the path of a writing career… I hope. And as I travel along this journey, I can’t help but notice similarities between the two careers. So I’d like to share my thoughts on how even though I’ve headed in a different direction, I’m still experiencing the same issues.

How is a writer like a paramedic, you ask? Let me tell you the ways…

  • Crazy Lifestyle–The lifestyle of a paramedic is not a regular one. You forget what a weekend is, you work shift work, you miss most holidays or birthdays, and the start and end time of your shift is more like a guideline. Many times you’ll eat or sleep at crazy times or places or both. Now I’m writing, I find many of these same issues apply.
  • Both Have Voices In Their Head–In both careers I dealt with self doubt and learned that voice in your head is not a reliable one. Should I do this… maybe, I shouldn’t do that… until you’re paralyzed with indecision. Either way, you need to decide and own it. Voices be damned. Of course, there’s a lot more voices in my head while I’m writing so that makes for good conversations.
  • Poetry in Motion–Like a fine wine professionals who are skilled at their craft, whatever that may be, only get better with time. Everyone transforms between the start and end of a career but not all reach the same level. When you find someone who operates at the top of their game magic happens, poetry in motion. While I am not this level, as far as writing is concerned, examples are all around us and they are a wonder to behold.
  • Emotional Rollercoaster– There’s no surprise working as a paramedic involves a multitude of emotions. Just imagine what a bad day at work is like for these folks. You can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows often in the same day. These events will be forever burned into your memory. Dealing with these issues is difficult but important. When I started writing, I would experience these same emotional swings.  At least as a paramedic I only had to deal with my emotions but now I’m required to deal with the emotions of all my characters, too. Let me tell you, they are all drama queens!
  • Passion–In both careers, I witnessed a passion for the job unparalleled. Writers and paramedics commit so much of their heart to their work and it shows. Neither is about the paycheck.   Deep within is a fire that drives them to be the best they can as the stakes are high.
  • Rule Breakers–As is true most times in life, there are rules, you must know them, you must understand them, and at times you will need to break them. Writers and paramedics understand and embrace this idea.  But tread carefully.
  • Survival– Sometimes life just sucks and troubled times come around the bend. Everyone has them so no point hiding. Then it becomes about surviving those tough times and as a paramedic I helped countless people through painful situations. But doesn’t a writer do the same thing? A great book can take you away from your problems if only for a little while.
  • Inappropriate Stories–Hang around either of these two groups of people long enough and you’re bound to get a glimpse of the stories you’d rather not have heard. Both are only suitable in certain circles. Oh and by the way, don’t ever ask a paramedic about the worst thing they’ve ever seen. What you’re really asking them to do is dredge up and recount their worst memory. Those same memories are already intrusive enough so don’t add to the problem.
  • Questionable Browser History–Research is important whether you are writing a book or trying to keep your skills or knowledge sharp. Sometimes what you need to research is sketchy, and I don’t mean in the adult entertainment sense. I’m sure if you could take a peek at the browser history of a writer or paramedic you’ll find this questionable material.

So as crazy at it seems, it’s true. While I no longer work as a paramedic, I did find common ground in my pursuit of writing a novel. Never would I guess that so many similarities between the two careers existed. I hope writing as a career will be as fulfilling as being a paramedic was and with any luck, there’ll be as many stories.

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