From The BBC:
Every February, as the Oscars roll around, movie fans revel in stories about actors who have gone to extreme lengths to prepare for parts.
Daniel Day-Lewis learned to track and skin animals and fight with tomahawks for The Last of the Mohicans, while, more recently, Leonardo DiCaprio plunged into an icy river and sank his teeth into a hunk of raw bison while filming the Oscar-nominated film The Revenant.
Actors going to such lengths has become more common in recent years and a cynic might argue it certainly did not harm their film’s publicity, but given the apparent success of their technique, could working in a similarly immersive way also benefit novelists?
The author Thomas W Hodgkinson thinks so.
“I wrote the bulk of my new novel, Memoirs of a Stalker, whilst lying flat on my back in one of the cupboards in my home. There wasn’t even room for a laptop, so I had to write it on my mobile phone,” he says.
“I was trying to get into the mindset of my main character, who breaks into his ex-girlfriend’s house and lives there for months without her knowing. He spends a lot of time lurking in shadows, behind doors, and crouched in cupboards.”
. . . .
Sarah Churchwell, professor of American Literature at the University of East Anglia, doesn’t totally dismiss method writing as an idea, but says most would not think it necessary.
“This idea is not different in kind to the way most authors write, it’s just different in degree. Writing is always an immersive, imaginative experience,” she says.
“As a writer, you do live inside the heads of your characters and the world you’ve created. Rather than locking themselves literally in a closet, most writers just mentally immerse themselves in a certain realm, whether fictional or historical.”
Prof Churchwell has experience of writing in such a way. For her 2014 book, Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby, she says she had to immerse herself in all things 1922.
“I did nothing but read about 1922 for five years – I felt I was imaginatively living in that world. You do become naturally obsessed.
“You can’t shed the role at the end of the day… much the way actors often say they also can’t just emerge from the role. They are imaginatively living it, and writers are the same.”
Link to the rest at The BBC and thanks to Lexi for the tip.