When I Was A Massage Therapist

Years ago, in another life, I was a massage therapist. I went to school at night and my Saturdays were filled with practice. It was said that after 1500 hours of hands on work, you knew what you were doing.

What does this have to do with writing? Read on.

We writers all make a decision to write. It may take years, the stories and people inside our head getting stronger, and then one day we sit down and write. We may or may not keep at it, but we always come back to writing. We can’t not stop writing.

After graduation I continued my studies, because you needed Continuing Educational Units to keep up your certification, and later, your license. So I studied Cranio-Sacral work under Hugh Milne, D.O. Zero Balancing with Fritz interested me so I pursued my certification in that. Then Process Acupressure with Aminah Raheem. Lymph Drainage, Upledger. T.T. Medical massage seemed like a good idea, so I studied that back at my old massage school. So many classes. I learned so damn much.

Did I ever use those different modalities? Yes, but straight massage was what people wanted, what they came back for. So I did massage, but I also used every bit of knowledge I had to add to the massage. I believe that is what kept people coming back for sixteen years. Eventually I could put my hands on someone, and my hands knew where to go, what to do. That was from practice, trial and error.

We writers offer classes about writing, take classes about writing and classes about subjects we’ll use in our books. We never really stop trying to improve our craft. Some things work for us, and some things that work for others don’t work for us. But we keep trying to improve ourselves.

My practice flourished, and I kept it up for sixteen years. Did I advertise? You bet I did. At the beginning. I stopped a lot of advertising when my practice was steady, with only my name in the yellow pages. At the end, my name wasn’t even listed because I didn’t have the time to take on new people. By then it was by referral only.

Funny thing about advertising and promoting yourself. It works. The thing is, you can spend a fortune promoting yourself, but unless you aim it at people who want what you have, what you can provide, it’s money wasted. Know your audience.

There were those who believed they didn’t need to advertise, that if someone was meant to see them, they would eventually find their name and number. Mainly acupuncturists had that idea. Okay, to each his own point of view. But when I referred someone to an acupuncturist by name, unless I had their card or knew their number by heart, and I never did, the person could never reach them…because they couldn’t find them! So they found someone else, someone whose number they could find.

So have a way for people to find you. Have a way for people to see your name. Over and Over. It doesn’t have to be by advertising. Or the shot-gun approach, please not that. FaceBook is a nice way to meet people and have your name seen. Yahoo groups. Google+. Twitter. Goodreads, Shelfari. Join your local writer’s chapter. Attend local conferences and make friends. Start a blog. Follow blogs. Be nice. I believe people are more likely to try one of your books if they are familiar with you.

I have a little plaque hanging on my wall that reads, “Because Nice Matters”. It does. I used to refer people to other practitioners. They would refer back to me.

I recommend authors and books I like, not because I expect them to do the same to me, but because I like them and think others will, too. I love to read and am so happy when I find a new author I enjoy and can enthusiastically recommend. I don’t write horror, suspense, mystery, etc., but I read them and enjoy them.

There are so many books published each year, no one can possibly read them all, let alone buy them all. So it does help writers and readers to say, Hey! I liked this! Remember, with ebooks, they are always available, as opposed to print books with their short shelf life.

Of course, I did have clients who didn’t like what I did. They were used to something different, and by golly, I wasn’t doing it the way their usual person did it! Same with books, isn’t it? I have loved and recommended books to people who didn’t think they were that special. They didn’t understand why I thought the book was so great. I didn’t understand how they couldn’t think it was great.

That’s the way it goes. Some people will like you, and some won’t.

And then there is the Fear Factor, but that is a subject for another post.

Any thoughts about the above? I’d love to receive comments.

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22 Responses to When I Was A Massage Therapist

  1. Many great points to ponder. I suggest books I love to everyone. To me it’s a gift not just to the writer, but to the reader as well.

  2. Gerri Bowen says:

    That’s how I feel, Hildie. And there are so many great books out there, too. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Excellent post about not being afraid to start small and be consistent, but to keep going! I’m at the small stage right now, with high hopes that eventually, by getting my name out there time after time, people will want to read my books.

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      That is a good strategy, Susannah. I know I’m more inclined to read something by someone I know, a familiar name before that of a stranger. And it does take time for people to remember your name. How they remember it though… Thank you for posting a comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

  4. Elizabeth Holford says:

    Great advice and great comparisons!

  5. Hi, Gerri,

    I don’t recommend books very often, but I have been reading (or listening) to quite a few lately. It isn’t that I don’t want to make recommendations – it just doesn’t seem to come up in conversation all that often.

    I also enjoy writing. I only just discovered that since starting my own blog. But I never considered becoming an Author. They are both forms of self expression I guess.

    Hope all is well with you.

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Hi Elaine,
      They are forms of self-expression, yes. Also knitting, painting, food preparation. They all require some thought as to how you would like it to be presented, viewed, read. The self expression part comes with not caring too much what others think, because this is what you have done for you. You hope others like it, but, meh, if they don’t.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  6. Judy says:

    Reading is escaping to another world. Massage is escaping by relaxing. But each to his own preference.

  7. Stormie Kent says:

    This is great post. Quietly insightful.

  8. When specially created needles or acupressure are placed at certain locations on the meridians the blocks are released thus enabling the chi to circulate freely. It’s something like clearing the blocks within the path of the river to allow its free flow once more. Chi may also flow either too swiftly or too slowly, in which case acupuncture is employed to regulate the stream of energy.

  9. Misty Dietz says:

    “Because Nice Matters.” – I’m totally with you, Gerri! It feels good to be nice, and I believe in karma. What goes around, comes around. 🙂

  10. The touch therapy is always one of the best remedy in any way.It’s natural as can be, which I really enjoyed a lot.Acupuncture on the other hand is the Chinese way which I nervously have tried twice in my whole life ,but still the effects are great.

  11. Donna L Sadd says:

    Happy to have found you Gerri. Yep, the best karma comes to one who remains anonymous. Thank you for your recent (mums the word)’kindness.’

  12. I like the way you compared your experience in massage with writing. Both are businesses but neither tend to attract practitioners who think of themselves as entrepreneurial. The thing is, without that “business” approach, the best writer will remain as unknown as a massage therapist who only treats his or her friends.

    Btw, you seem to living a charmed life. Enjoy!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      You’re right, Rob. Both are businesses, but not typical. You have clients/fans who enjoy what you do. Others don’t and maybe never will. It’s all okay, too.
      And yes, it is a lovely life. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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