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The A,B,C Of Writing: A Doctor’s Experience

By Murni Nasri

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 (Bernama) — When you are overwhelmed with the complications of writing a master’s thesis, write a book, says one doctor.

Undoubtedly the prescription is not for everyone but it goes down well with the doctor herself, Noor Hayati Yasmin Nga Timin.

Dr Noor Hayati or simply known as Dr Yati, who is an emergency physician at the Hospital Kanak-kanak dan Wanita, Likas, Sabah has four books to her name and one on the way, all written in between her busy schedule at the hospital.

The prolific writer shared her secret in an interview with Bernama’s Lifestyle and Youth recently.

Dr Yati completed four books in 2013 that were published last year and self-published two novels.


Asked when it all started Dr Yati said “I began writing when I was in secondary school. I wrote short stories for my school magazine.

I also sent my writings to newspapers and magazines. At that time, I sent a lot of them to Minda Pelajar.”

Minda Pelajar, now known as Minda, is a newspaper specifically tailored for students sitting for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), published by Berita Harian.

Minda Pelajar did publish some of the young writer’s works, one of which selected as a consolation prize winner in one of the many contests the newspaper organised for budding writers.

In 2000, her short story entitled ‘Hadiah Kehidupan’ won the consolation prize in the ‘Pertandingan Menulis Cerpen Formula Malaysia’, the same competition where a famous author, Hizairi Othman bagged the first prize.


Dr Yati said her mother was the person who supported her in sending out her short stories that would normally be kept inside a file.

“Who would read your stories if you don’t send it out? The cat? she would say to me”.

“So I sent them out. She was sort of a writer. She used to enter contests, the kind that women’s magazines organised that would require the contestants to write slogans. My mother would normally win such contests as she was so good with writing slogans,” shared Dr Yati.

Her first published writing, said Dr Yati, was a reader’s letter she sent to Dewan Siswa, commenting on the young reader’s club.

It was all that Dr Yati needed to continue writing and keep sending her stories to newspapers and magazines.


Dr Yati’s first book is ‘Mudahnya Menulis Buku’ published by True Wealth Sdn Bhd, the publishing house owned by property millionaire Azizi Ali.

The book, Dr Yati said, was the first proposal of five accepted by True Wealth that she sent after attending one of Azizi’s seminar on writing.

Asked on why she chose the topic, Dr Yati said “I felt challenged when my best friend’s proposal was accepted first. We went to Azizi Ali’s writing seminar together, but hers was accepted first.

I became so motivated to send in my proposal and was looking for a topic to write on. I scanned the books on my shelves and most of them were books on how to write.”

Dr Yati also had been attending various writing workshops and seminars since she was 15 and it was only natural for her to choose that topic to write on, she said.


After writing her fifth book, Dr Yati decided to stop writing temporarily to focus on learning the ropes of publishing her own works.

“I heard so many people say that publishing a book is difficult. I want to know how hard it is to publish a book.

Of course, my long term plan is to become a publisher, but that might take some time since I’ve just started writing and am still attached to the hospital,” Dr Yati said.

Her first step in her quest, she said, was to purchase a book on how to become a publisher written by Nazrul Samsudin. She also sought help from her friends at TrueWealth.

“It was not as difficult as people say, it was not easy either but is doable, you just need to know the ins and outs of it,” she said of the experience. She managed to publish two books, ‘Cinta’ and ‘Diari Timin: Kehidupanku Di KTAM’.


Much like any other project a person takes on, a writer, said Dr Yati has to set a goal and a deadline for herself. A writer, she said, is always at her happiest when writing, which means, she can overlook deadlines and let things go out of control without a specific goal.

“You have to finish what you have started. Many writers, myself included, are easily distracted and without a deadline, most probably we won’t be able to finish our writings.

Focus on one book, aim for it to be published, always set a deadline. That is what I did in 2013 when I managed to write four books, by writing everyday and setting a three-month deadline for each,” Dr Yati shared.

‘Mudahnya Menulis Buku’, she said, documents her own experience in writing and that she hoped that it could inspire others to write because everyone has a story to tell.


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