One author’s secrets to success

Jim round­ing Cape Froward, the south­ern­most tip of con­tin­ent­al South America, in the ves­sel Chonos, January 2005. Photo by John Rosborough.

Jim Delgado’s af­fable, dy­nam­ic and al­ways do­ing some­thing cool.

As a mari­time ar­chae­olo­gist, he ex­plores old wrecks world-wide and was among the first to dive the Titanic. He was ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 15 years and hos­ted the pop­u­lar TV show, The Sea Hunters, for five.

He’s cur­rently dir­ect­or of the Maritime Heritage Program for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as be­ing pres­id­ent of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. He teaches at uni­ver­sit­ies, con­trib­utes to schol­arly and aca­dem­ic journ­als and pro­motes mari­time preservation.

Oh yeah, he also writes books. More than 33 of them at last count. Khubilai  Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada won the James Deetz Award in  January. The same month Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War won the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title.

Delgado’s new­est book, Silent Killers: Submarines and  Underwater Warfare was re­leased in June. And the next one, Iron, Pearls and  Gunpowder: The Incredible Saga of a Lost American Civil War Submarine, is already underway.

So how does he man­age to do all this and have a life? I asked Jim and this is what he said:

1. I don’t need much sleep.

2. I have a quiet, private of­fice and my wife screens all my calls.

3. I use all my travel time, in air­ports and on the plane, to work.

There’s not much any­one can do about the amount of sleep they  need. But most people can ar­range their work space so dis­trac­tions and  in­ter­rup­tions are kept to a minimum.

And when trav­el­ling, what bet­ter way to si­lence the overly chatty per­son sit­ting next to you, than flip­ping open your laptop or note book and an­noun­cing, ‘I have to work now.’

If you’re really ser­i­ous about writ­ing, you won’t wait for time to write. You’ll make time.