I wrote this book in 1992, and according to the publisher it came about because we got stuck in a lift together. I would like to think that this was not the only reason he took it on, and it certainly had some success at the time.
I had recently converted from being a journalist to a trainer. I had come across many doctors who wanted to write articles for newspapers and magazines, and this book was intended to be a guide on how to go about it.
More specifically, the aims were to:
I also include (as chapter headers) some of my favourite quotes about writing, such as: 'Markets come before methods, and that is a message that beginners can be reluctant to learn' (Brendan Hennessy) and, 'Spell a man’s name incorrectly and he will be deeply hurt, because it’s all his own, and he will spread the news around' (Leslie Sellers).
'Most scientific writers could learn a lot from Tim Albert on how to put a message over clearly and forcefully' - BMJ
'Every aspiring writer should read this book before he starts. Every doctor whose work has been rejected or changed should read it to find out what went wrong. Journalism is one of the most challenging and rewarding writing skills, but success depends on sound preparation and careful thought. Tim Albert is recognised as a leading trainer in medical journalism and those who follow his advice could quickly
see their name in print' - publisher's blurb.
'My only grouse about the book is that it didn’t exist when I first hung up my stethoscope and tried to turn myself into a writer. It would have spared me months of struggle in an alien world where experience eventually taught me some of the lessons I could have learned less traumatically from these pages' – Dr Michael O’Donnell, editor, writer and broadcaster, writing in the foreword.