Peggy Noonan went through 30 years-worth of her own writing to chronicle her career as a journalist and speechwriter in the Reagan White House. The Time of Our Lives is her latest book and a culmination of stories, lessons, and advice from her experiences as a writer, which she shared on today’s episode of The Federalist Radio Hour.

She said going back through her writing turned into a labor of love, but in the beginning it was a labor. “I saw that I could really say my subject is America. America is what I have been writing about for more than 30 years,” she said. “I found that there is a persistent theme in my work of thinking aloud the importance of work itself–in the meaning and making of human life.”

Noonan described the day of the Challenger disaster in 1986 and the process of writing Ronald Reagan’s speech he would give on television later that night. “I picked up the President’s mood. I understood that he was upset,” she said. “I felt our work hadn’t quite hit it, but I came in the next morning and things had changed…”

Later in the hour, Noonan shared what her own writing process looks like and the differences between writing speeches, columns, and books. “You can learn a lot of how people think by what they say, if they choose to be talking to you,” she said on speechwriting. “It is their document. It is Reagan’s thoughts. It’s their best thoughts, made as briefly as possible. But it’s them, it’s not you.”