Dan Jenkins RIP: “My Grandmother Bought Me a Typewriter…”

“My grandmother bought me a typewriter,” he told The Post in 1984. “It sat on the kitchen table. I would take the paper every day, put a piece of paper in and start copying the newspaper story word for word. One day, I started trying to improve on it. I thought, ‘This guy’s an idiot. I can do better than this.’ It hasn’t stopped since.”

—From the Washington Post obit on Dan Jenkins by Matt Schudel.

When Sports Illustrated mattered, Dan was its star and an irresistible influence on kids with dreams. I would prop the magazine alongside my typewriter and copy, word for word, Jenkins’s stories. I had no illusions of ever writing such stories. I just wanted to see if it was possible for my fingers to type those words in that order.

—From a Washington Post story by Dave Kindred on Dan Jenkins.

“My advice doesn’t change with electricity. Be accurate first, then entertain if it comes natural. Never sell out a fact for a gag. Your job is to inform above all else. Know what to leave out. Don’t try to force-feed an anecdote if it doesn’t fit your piece, no matter how much it amuses you. Save it for another time. Have a conviction about what you cover. Read all the good writers that came before you and made the profession worth being part of—Lardner, Smith, Runyon, etc. Don’t just cover a beat, care-take it. Keep in mind you know more about the subject than your readers or editors. You’re close to it, they aren’t. I think I can say in all honesty that I’ve never written a sentence I didn’t believe, even if it happened to be funny.”

—From the Golf Digest obit by Tom Callahan that included this writing advice from Dan Jenkins.


  1. An echo of how Dan Jenkins learned to write: When I was a student at Connecticut College, Blanche McCrary Boyd, an English teacher and writer-in-residence, told me to keyboard stories from good writers into my computer, figuring that keyboarding imprinted good writing on the brain in ways that reading did not.

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