All Member Spotlights
Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Dan Rottenberg

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Letters are abstract symbols that require the reader to form them into words and sentences— a process that does not occur when people simply speak or look at images. That is, it forces them to think.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? My best ideas come to me when my mind is relaxed. In practice that usually means when I’m asleep, out for a walk, or in the men’s room. In each case, I always keep a pen and pocket notebook nearby, so I can jot down inspiring ideas and prose passages as soon as they come, and before they can vanish.

What is your favorite time to write? I’m in my office by 10 am and usually start writing about 11:30. I break for lunch at 1:30. After lunch, I may clean up my correspondence or run chores until about 4 pm. Then I resume writing and really get into it until about 6:30. So we’re talking maybe 4 1/2 hours of actual writing in the course of a day. “Less is more.”

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? To the extent that I’ve managed to function independently as a journalist and author for more than half a century, the credit belongs above all to my marriage. The emotional and financial support of a committed spouse repeatedly enabled me to take risks, stand up for unpopular causes, withstand the ups and downs of freelance writing, and quit prestigious jobs to try new challenges.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Computers and the Internet have exponentially increased access to information. It took me 57 years to separate fact from fiction about the Pony Express superintendent Jack Slade for my 2008 book Death of a Gunfighter. Had computers and the Internet not come along, I’d be working on that book still today, with no satisfactory end in sight.

Dan Rottenberg’s The Education of a Journalist: My Seventy Years on the Frontiers of Free Speech is out now with Redmount Press.