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My Accidental Path Back to Writing

Mimi Zieman M.D., who writes medically to empower people, tells us to follow our instincts to new opportunities.

My return to writing feels accidental, which is not unlike how I’ve stumbled into a lot of things in life.

A few years ago, I was in a demanding job at a medical start-up that required work around the clock.

Nights, weekends, whenever the CEO wanted me to tap away on my laptop.

The situation deteriorated rapidly when it was clear our visions, about the research I oversaw, did not align.

I needed to quit. Immediately.

 

A few years ago, I was in a demanding job at a medical start-up that required work around the clock. Nights, weekends, whenever the CEO wanted me to tap away on my laptop. I needed to quit. Immediately. Click To Tweet

 

It was a Thursday afternoon when I packed up my office and left the building for the last time.

Friday morning at 8 a.m., I sat at my home desk, with words pouring onto the page. I was beginning to draft a book.

I had written a lot while growing up.

I kept journals, wrote awfully long letters, and was selected to be the editor of my high school yearbook’s poetry and prose section. But I didn’t have the confidence to choose a creative career.

Like many physicians I chose the secure professional path.

 

This wasn’t the first time I wanted to write a book.

As a third-year medical student I went to Tibet to be the “doctor” on an Everest expedition. If you’re wondering how I got that opportunity – it was one of those accidents I had stumbled into.

It’s also the subject of the memoir I’ve now completed.

 

Crazy things happened on Everest, and when I came home, I wanted to put it all down on paper.

I weighed the option of taking a year off to write but I had huge medical school loans to repay.

How would I make payments?

Would I want to continue to residency if I took a year off to write?

Or would I want to join other expeditions, pen in hand, and camera around my neck?

 

I forged ahead with medical training.

Then—marriage, parenthood, and career—with no thoughts about returning to writing until that Friday morning.

 

I needed to quit. Immediately.

 

Even that day I had given it no thought. I just sat and wrote.

Once I started, an entire world opened.

 

I purchased books about writing and took courses, seminars, and workshops online—courtesy of the pandemic.

I joined an emerging group of six women writers planning to meet by Zoom twice a month.

Now, we are in our third year of working together and have never missed a meeting.

These women are a true squad—cheering each other on, sharing tips about writing and publishing, and doing the demanding work of providing honest critiques of each other’s work.

 

When I took the job at the start-up, I felt grateful to be challenged to learn a new world of business and management.

I’ve never been good at stasis.

After that, I accidentally stepped into this new world of writing which challenges me every day in a completely different way.

And I’m grateful again.

No matter what, I believe it’s good to follow the path of those accidents in life—opportunities—and see where they lead.

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