Who are you?
Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, author of numerous New York Times bestselling science books. I live in Santa Barbara, California.
What do you write?
I write nonfiction books, mostly science. My beat is on the margins of science, and where science intersects with other areas: science and pseudoscience, science and alternative medicine, science and religion, science and morality, science and politics, science and cults, science and conspiracies, etc. There are no words or themes that I avoid. No sacred cows! (My Hindu friends don’t like that part. Haha.) I have been writing since college and always wanted to be published by major publications and write books publishing by major publishing houses, all of which I have done. And since I do this for a living I also write to be paid, but I love writing and do it for its intrinsic value.
Where do you write?
I can write anywhere with my laptop: in the kitchen, on the couch, at the beach, at Starbucks, on a plane, etc. My only tools are a keyboard and my brain. The Internet helps inasmuch as I’m writing non-fiction, which requires fact checking and research.
When do you write?
I usually work out in the mornings (mostly cycling) so I start writing late morning and normally write most of the afternoon. No time limit. No word count. I’m mostly internally motivated so I don’t need deadlines, but for getting something done in time for publication. Deadlines are just time frames around which to structure writing projects, but they don’t motivate. That comes from within.
Why do you write?
I want to make the world a better place, and as such I believe it is ideas that move people to act, so I am in the ideas business. That is, determining which ideas are likely true and which likely false. People act on their beliefs, so why people believe what they do is my area of research and writing. I am also fueled by solving problems and answering questions: Is there a God? Can there be morality without God/religion? Do humans have free will? What is truth?
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block. I have the opposite problem: I like writing so much that I can do it all day.
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Playing with my son, hanging out with my wife, and riding my bicycle.