Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the lines

The doctor writer's handbook

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:517
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Every so often a junior doctor would come to me and confess that he or she wanted to write. This was not in itself absurd: the number of doctor writers is, after all, legion.

    Junior doctors afflicted with literary ambition would ask my advice. I had only three pieces of advice to give: firstly, that they should continue in the hospital for a few more years, because human nature was concentrated and distilled there as if for the express purpose of training writers; secondly, that on no account should they consort with academics of the humanities departments of any university, for to do so was the primrose path to stylistic perdition; and finally, that they should read a great deal.

    “Yes, but …

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