Non-fiction author George Sullivan shares secret research tips.
When I studied Jamestown in school, I was amazed at how the settlement’s remains have still survived all these years, and how many people are still exploring this 17th century world today. That’s why, when I got the chance to speak with a writer who had explored that world, I couldn’t wait to talk to him.
Interviewing George Sullivan, the author of Pocahontas, gave me a lot of insight into what it’s like to be a writer. Sullivan has written a whole series of nonfiction books and has always preferred non-fiction.
“It answers questions I have,” Sullivan said about his research and writing. “I think that’s the reason I have always preferred nonfiction. It’s curiosity. That’s the basic motivation I have.”
Sullivan is dedicated to his work, and writes for three or four hours every day. Each night before going to bed, he prepares the material for what he is going to write the next day. That next day begins at 5 a.m.!
“I write very early in the morning, when my mind is fresh and when I know I’m not going to be interrupted by the telephone or visitors or whatever might occur during the day,” he said. “I do a great deal of work in the early morning hours.”
By great deal of work, he means four or five hours of writing before having breakfast with his wife.
Writing is all about the research, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction. Since I have been faced with some pretty big research projects in school (and know there are more to come), I asked him about how he gets started on each book.
“You take the project and you break it into pieces,” he said. “You have an outline that breaks it down into different categories. Then you research each of these pieces, instead of trying to do everything all at once.”
He said it was lot like putting together a puzzle.
At the end of my conversation with Mr. Sullivan, I realized that I had learned a lot from him about Pocahontas and what life was like in the 17th century. More than that, however, he gave me some great insight into what I might have to do to become a professional writer.
Now all I have to do is be organized enough to plan out what I am going to write the the next day, and remind my mom to wake me up at 5:00 in the morning.