If you haven’t read Siddhartha Mukherjee, it would be a good idea to start. His writing makes the world of medicine and disease and death more accessible. An article by him about his writing day is going viral, I think, as I see this article popping up on many well-meaning feeds. So how does this oncologist write?
An oncologist has his hands tied. He is forever monitoring patients who go through remission and relapse. He is forever dealing with their families and instructing the nurses who provide care. He reads through reams of research and tackles mysteries that postdoctoral researchers unearth. There is no reason for a doctor to write at all; in fact, if he does, he obviously does it in between his packed routine.
‘Why do I write? Or why, for that matter, do some doctors write? Some of us write to bear witness. Some of us tell stories. Zadie Smith once said that the very reason she writes is so that she “might not sleepwalk through my entire life”. On some particularly grim days, I think that I write to induce sleepwalking.’
Mukherjee’s method is meticulous. As you read about his daily ritual, you realize how much he values those two hours he spends on writing, how careful he is about using limited social media and how much he loves cells. Most importantly he is terrifically curious. He must address the why of everything and this is the basis of his writing.
Read about Siddhartha Mukherjee’s writing day here.