Total Immersion

One of the luxuries of being an accomplished writer with a robust following is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a topic that fascinates you — to dive in and get lost in it and happily surrender to your obsession. One author who’s tasted these heady joys is the Pulitzer-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Doris learned to tell thanks to baseball. She spent long afternoons listening to games on the radio so she could give a blow-by-blow description to her dad, who was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She’s gone on to write nonfiction bestsellers on Lyndon Johnson, the Roosevelts, and John F. Kennedy.

When she’s writing a new book, total immersion is the name of the game: She does extensive research and her characters become part of her life. So she picks her new subject by asking, “Who am I going to want to spend all that time with?” When her kids were growing up, Doris says, they “used to tease me when I was writing about Franklin and Eleanor that they’d hear me in my room, and I’d say, ‘Franklin, just be nicer to her; Eleanor, forget the affair — it was so long ago!'”

Her fabulous book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, took Doris a decade to research and write. At 70, she’s is still going strong; she’s just finished a seven-year stint penning The Bully Pulpit, the story of Theodore Roosevelt and his successor, William Howard Taft.

Doris is a hands-on historian: “I feel so in need of diaries and letters and the things you wouldn’t have with a modern president.” With Lincoln, for example, “he’s writing handwritten letters to his wife…and they’re emotional. They’re talking intimately.” What a joyful livelihood: to bring these words and amazing events to life! Why not take a tip from Doris and immerse yourself in a subject you want to write about — even if it’s just for a few hours or a weekend. Who knows what might arise? Bravo, Doris. Write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply