Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or with RSS, and be sure to leave us a review!

Here’s the Wild Idea

Elizabeth’s Wild Idea: To write about people who adventure for a larger purpose.

There are some writers whose words resonate so well and whose descriptions are so deep, their words hit you to the core and transport you into their world. 

Today’s guest, Elizabeth Weil, has evoked that feeling for me time and again through her work. The award-winning writer often covers the kind of people I love – those who live outside the normal boundaries of society, and pursue their own wild ideas and make them a reality. She has written about everyone from snowboarder Shaun White and skier Mikaela Shiffrin to swimmer Diana Nyad, Senator Kristen Gillibrand and a man named Doba who kayaked across the Atlantic in his seventies. In addition to writing articles for The New York Times Magazine, Outside Magazine, Wired, and more, she has also written a book about her own marriage, and she recently penned the New York Times bestselling book, The Girl Who Smiles Beads. In addition to being a writer, she’s also a mom and a wife. She’s married to one of my other favorite writers (who happens to cover surfing and rock-climbing), Daniel Duane.

In our conversation, Liz and I talk about a few of the subjects she’s covered including Doba, and some other adventurers who have done wild feats without the desire for any recognition. We also talk about why she is attracted to stories about people who live wildly, why they do it, what she has learned from them, and her advice for anyone who wants to make a living as a writer.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You want to be a writer.
  • You love reading amazing stories.
  • You like stories of adventurers who do wild things just for themselves.
  • You are looking to improve your relationship.
  • You need help balancing your personal and professional life.

Key Takeaways

  • 3:00 – What made Liz risk averse.
  • 6:45 – Who is Aleksander Doba and why his story is so fascinating.
  • 12:05 – How she found Doba.
  • 14:05 – What Liz learned from Doba.
  • 16:20 – How she goes about pitching a story.
  • 21:45 – The challenges of writing Doba’s story.
  • 24:10 – How Liz is affected by her stories.
  • 25:10 – Who is Sarah Marquis.
  • 28:30 – Where Liz got the wild idea to be a writer and her advice to writers out there.
  • 33:10 – How Liz also helps other people write their own stories.
  • 35:00 – How she balances her writing work and her personal life.
  • 43:00 – What advice she would give her fifteen-year-old self.
  • 44:50 – The story she is working on now.
  • 46:20 – Other lessons she has to share.
  • 49:35 – Where she goes backpacking.

Episodes to listen to

Alex Honnold
Beth Rodden
Diana Nyad
Shannon Walker
Mark Lukach


The Girl Who Smiled Beads
No Cheating No Dying

Elizabeth’s articles

Alone at Sea (Piece about Aleksander Doba)
Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad Takes On the Demons of the Sea
The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles (No Exaggeration) in Three Years


Free Solo film
Mediabistro – How to Pitch

Connect with Elizabeth




Wild Ideas Worth Living on Facebook
Wild Ideas Worth Living on Instagram
Wild Ideas Worth Living on Twitter