Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? I write because I have to. There are so many stories out there, so many incredible lives that need to evolve and be shared, whether they’re real or imagined. Everything has a story and I’ve always felt a pull to tell some of those stories in whatever way I feel they can or should be told. To some degree, writing also validates who I am and my place in the world. Writing is absolutely essential to our world. We can share experiences through writing (and reading) and this leads to a greater understanding of the planet itself and the diversity of life that inhabits it. Writing brings escape and pleasure in difficult times. Writing also tells the truth on many levels. And sometimes the only way to tell the truth is to tell a story. And “the truth shall make (us) free.”
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? The hardest part of writing to me, fiction or non-fiction, is the ‘shitty first draft’ as the brilliant Annie Lamott has written. That’s usually where any writer’s block comes in for me. My approach is to just to throw down all the words, feelings, facts, or sense impressions associated with the piece I’m working on—the scene, paragraph, section or subject—and edit and expand from there. Sometimes I just have to walk away or distract myself in some way and come back to the work fresh. The hardest part of working with writer’s block is that I tend to have a creator sitting on one shoulder and a critic on the other. They’re always sparring. I try to keep the critic quiet at least until I can get down the first draft.
What is your favorite time to write? I have never been good at keeping to any specific schedule for anything. When my children were little, I would write whenever I could snatch a free moment between childcare and a full-time job. I do a lot of work in my head, so that when I do sit down to write the writing may flow and I can get a lot done. I’ve never worked with daily time limits, word counts, or page goals. So I don’t have a favorite time to write, though my creative juices, such as they are, work a bit better before noon.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I believe that writing is extremely subjective. I also think that because of that, there is very little blanket advice that can be given from one writer to another, with one exception. I don’t remember anymore where I first heard this, but to write successfully requires patience, practice, and persistence. In no particular order.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? The access to research on the internet is just invaluable no matter what area of writing you’re working in. Also, in the past, when I first started out in magazine journalism, ‘no simultaneous submissions’, as a requirement, was incredibly stifling. But above all, there are still so many stories that need to be told.
Dianne Ebertt Beeaff's On Traigh Lar Beach is out now with She Writes Press.