Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Writing has always played a significant role in my life. My earliest memories from growing up are of writing and journaling, keeping a diary that I religiously wrote in every night as part of my evening routine. As a shy kid – and now as I consider myself a functioning introvert – writing has allowed my voice to be heard when I might otherwise be silent, and it allows everyone’s voice to be heard. No matter where you are, what you have going on, what your circumstances might be, writing can provide that vital connection to others.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I don’t fight it. I don’t acknowledge it. I don’t even dignify it with a name, writer’s block. I just figure if it’s not my day, or days (or sometimes week!) to write, then so be it. That just frees me up to do something else. I’ll go for a long run or piddle about in the garden, maybe take in a movie (or a couple movies, usually matinees). And fortunately, I’ve found that once I get my mind away from writing, the words eventually come back to me.
What is your favorite time to write? My favorite time to write is first thing in the morning, when the house is still and quiet, just the ticking of the clock on the living room wall and the furnace (or air conditioner) kicking on and off, before the demands and realities and responsibilities of the day come calling. And if I’m really lucky, I’ll wake up with an idea, or a plot, or just a couple lines of dialogue, to write about.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Several years ago, when I was considering this second (or third, or fourth, or fifth, or whatever number it is now) act of mine to commit myself to being a writer, I attended a reading by Nick Flynn. He recounted a story about being on the set for the film adaption of one of his books, when a child actor came up and asked him what it took to be a writer. He told that young person, without being flippant and in all sincerity, to just write. And that’s the advice that I’ve followed, and continue to follow (and maybe this can also be an answer to the writer’s block question) – to just write. It doesn’t matter if you write a best seller, or if your work never gets published, as long as you write, you’re a writer.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? What excites me most about being a writer today is that there are so many opportunities to share your work, from the burgeoning number of lit mags to all the various ways to self-publish. I remember when I first started out, back when I was in college, hopefully stuffing my writing into a manila envelope, sealing it and mailing it off, and then waiting dutifully (and longingly) by the mailbox for a response – oftentimes a response that never came. Today there are a whole host of media available to get your writing out there. Technology can be a wonderful thing!
Peter J. Stavros's (Mostly) True Tales from Birchmont Village is out August 11.