Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Writing is important to me because reading has been instrumental to my development as a human being, and as a critical thinker. I want to add my stories to the stream and become part of someone else’s journey. There’s also the cathartic aspect of writing and exploring one’s own story. As someone who’s been a musician for most of my life, I’ve always had that performer’s instinct of wanting to scream into the universe and listen for an an answer, or at least an echo. I think writing is important for the world for these same reasons. It can provide a sense of validity, belonging, connection and community, while sparking imagination, curiosity, questioning and learning.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I work as a film/composer, a profession where there’s not much room for writer’s block. There’s always work you can get done within your process to make progress on a project. So you just stay busy. I try to view composing as going to the sink for a glass of water--I turn the faucet and never doubt that water will come out. I have the same approach with writing (and screenwriting). I am often juggling/alternating between composing and writing projects, so I try to stay busy and not let doubt creep into the equation too much. Once again, staying busy by working on something that contributes toward finishing the work, be it writing, sketching ideas, editing. I believe editing is equally as important to the process as composing or writing, but first, you have to get something down to be able to edit it. Short answer is that I (even to superstitious degrees) I try to avoid giving too much power to the idea of writer’s block.
What is your favorite time to write? There’s something magical about those first hours in the morning for me. I tend to try to get as much down in the first hours as possible, and perhaps switch to editing or structure work in later hours. But when things are flowing, I tend to be obsessive and work long stretches to capture as much inspiration as I can.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Make a story your own. There are always going to be similar stories to yours out there, but by making yours as personal and singular as possible will set it apart.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? Well, it’s a curse and a blessing, as it is with music, but I think Access. In both directions. As a reader, it’s incredible to have millions of books and materials at your fingertips, for reading enjoyment as well as research... as a writer, more than ever you have avenues to get your work out there, as well as access to your readers. Readers and writers can also interact on an unprecedented level.
Bobby Johnston's The Saint I Ain't: Stories from Sycamore Street is out now with Fomite Press.