Matthew McConaughey on His Memoir Writing Process: 52 Days Alone in the Desert (Without Electricity!)

The actor recently announced his first-ever book, Greenlights, out Oct. 20

Matthew McConaughey's upcoming memoir is entitled Greenlights, but interestingly, he may have put the book together without light at all.

"I went away to the desert by myself for 52 days, no electricity," he said of his writing process. "I've been keeping a diary for 36 years; a couple of years ago, my wife gave me a kick in the backside to say: 'You've been talking about sitting down with those for 36 years and seeing what it is for a while. Now's the time. Get out of here.' "

Speaking to reporters during a recent conversation about Lincoln's new partnership with the Calm app ahead of #NationalRelaxationDay on Aug. 15, McConaughey, 50, said reading through his journals helped him realize the theme of "green lights" in his life.

"I noticed many red lights and yellow lights that I had in my life earlier, that with time turned green," he explained. "With time I saw, even hard, tragic things — I noticed they are things that can work for everyone. The death of a loved one, it's a red light — for me, my father moving on was a big red light — but then I've noticed when I looked in my journals how much … things he taught me kept him alive by what I learned from him and the man I try to be daily. That's a green light of his moving on."

The actor said the theme even applies to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're in the middle of a big yellow light, and some people are in the middle of red lights right now," he said. "I foresee a day where if we handle ourselves well now, that we can look back on this year and say this was one of our most hard-fought but finest hours. This was the beginning of a change individually, worldwide. This time could even be a green light."

Greenlights — available for presale now and out Oct. 20 — is a collection of "stories, prayers, poems, people and places and a whole bunch of bumper stickers," McConaughey said. "It's my favorite piece of art that I've ever been a part of creating."

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