Douglas Rogers is a Zimbabwe-born journalist and travel writer based in New York City. His book, The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe, was published in 2009. The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege, and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit.
I Am Driven By | Fear. And beer money.
My Highlights | In my life: having children. Watching my daughter Madeline read and dance; watching my son Whitaker hit a baseball. It’s not a cricket ball but what can I do. Of my career: publishing The Last Resort, so far my only book. I’m in awe of writers who publish 10, 20, 30 books in a career. Some articles I’ve written I’m proud of.
The Difference Between good And Great | Talent, commitment, and self-belief. Most of us have one or two of these things. People who do great things have all three.
A Key Talent | It’s vital as a journalist and non-fiction writer to be able to talk to and listen to people. That’s my primary talent. I can pretty much speak to anyone in any situation and get them to tell me things. In terms of writing, hone your craft. You can always do it better. Cut out adjectives. Read the greats, people you want to write like, and see how they do it. Always look for new and original ways to describe things.
Principles I Live By | You have to believe that what you are writing or telling is true. You can’t fake it or do half a job. I thought writing would get easier as I did it more but it actually gets harder, because you have to do it better each time otherwise you’re going backwards.
Lessons I Have Learnt | The Gary Player adage: the more you practice the luckier you get. It’s same for everything, the more you do something and the more you work hard at it, the better you get at it. The more you write the better you get. Also, take advice. Never think that you are beyond that and that you can’t improve.
Dealing With Doubt | I doubt myself all the time but I have learned that doubt is really fear and it’s part of the creative process. You have to go through the wall in order to make something good. I still find the process agonizing, but I realize that fear and doubt is there for a reason.
On Performing At My Peak | Exercise a lot, clear the head and an early night, followed by coffee in the morning. The alcoholic writer is a myth. Writers drink, but not when they are writing, and rarely do they write well with a hangover. Try to end a day when the work is in a good place so that you are keen to get to it again in the morning. Not always possible of course. I like to read a few pages of a writer or from a work I really like, early in the morning over an espresso in a quiet place. Puts the head in the right place.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I read authors I like to get inspired. Laurie Lee, Evelyn Waugh, Grahame Greene, Tom Wolfe, PJ. O’Rourke, Christopher Hitchens, Riaan Malan, Geoff Dyer, Charles Graeber.
My Future Ambition | To write a successful enough book that I no longer have to worry about money.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | You have to believe in the story you are telling. You have to believe everyone will want to hear it and that it is brilliant, otherwise , why write it. Alexandra Fuller told me this.
Advice On Getting Rich | Become a banker. Or a politician.