I want to Go Slow

David McCullogh is one of my favorite writers. The historian has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his works on John Adams and Harry Truman.

His latest book, The Greater Journey,” is a collection of stories about Americans who traveled to Paris during the 1800s to paint, write, and study medicine.

In a recent USA Today there was a great article about McCullough and his life as a writer. It turns out that he still writes his books using an old Royal typewriter that was made in 1940. The newspaper reporter asked him about the old relic and why he still uses it.

McCullough said, “There is nothing wrong with it.”

The reporter reminded him, “You could write a lot faster if you would use a computer.”

McCullough simply said, “Yes I could. But I don’t want to write faster. I want to go slow. The quality will improve. At least I hope so.”

McCullough tells people that he is “not a trained historian, rather a storyteller.”

Did you catch that? A man who has won two Pulitzers for writing history books is not a historian, but a storyteller.

Now that is a man who knows himself.

You could make a case that McCullough’s greatness as a writer is precisely because he knows who he is and he knows his audience.

When asked where he comes up with the ideas for his books, McCullough says, “I write books that I wish existed, so I can read them.”

As a leader, do you know yourself? Have you discovered your sweet spot? Do you love what you do so much that it makes you want to go slow? Do you produce stuff that is so good that you wish you could buy it?

I hope so.

If not, maybe you could learn something from McCullough. He sure seems to have discovered the secret.



What did you

do this week that brought you the most energy, joy, and fulfillment?




repost from 5.27.11

Leave a comment


9 years ago

I love his quote, “I write books that I wish existed, so that I can read them.” I have no desire to write a book, but this is something to chew on for a while.

Robbie Janel

9 years ago

That jumped off the page at me too. Definitely has my mind churning.


9 years ago

There is a reason he has written such great books! Now I guess we know why. Thanks for commenting Susan. Have a great & slow weekend.

D Whitton

9 years ago

That’s a great idea!!! Let’s all try to slow down.


9 years ago

Thanks DW!

Keith Smith

9 years ago

Randy, God has been dealing with me on this subject. I used to think that if I slowed down that I was being lazy. That not the case anymore I believe that when you slow down you have a better capacity to do things with excellence. I mean your perspective is clearer and you can see details that you may miss otherwise. Its very much like driving across the country in a car or going around the block in a pony drawn cart a completely different perspective. You may not get as far but you see a lot more detail.
Pressing on with excellence!


9 years ago

I like that analogy Keith. Thanks for the comment!

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