Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world?
I write to make a connection with the reader. While the connection isn’t face-to-face, it’s intimate, it’s real. I read for the same reason, to connect, to get a glimpse into the experiences of others. I’ll never live as an aristocratic woman in 19th century St. Petersburg, but I can read Anna Karenina. I may intellectually understand the horrors of slavery, but a book like Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi can shake up my privilege and give me an experience I can “feel”.
That—connection, empathy, a good story told well—is why I think literature so a vital for the world.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block?
When I'm stuck in a writing project, I set a timer. I literally set a timer and say to myself, "All you have to do today is write for 10 minutes." When the timer goes off, I have the option of walking away or, if something good bubbles up, to keep going. The next week, I set the timer for, say, 20 minutes. In this way, I end up writing something every day. It's productive and gets me over any resistance I have.
What is your favorite time to write?
In the morning, a warm mug of coffee between in my palms and a new page open on the screen. It feels like anything is possible. That all the words--the words I need to create the scenes that make up the story--are ready and waiting for me to begin.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
Simply this: put your butt in the seat. No work gets done if you're not in the seat. I'm a bit daydream-y and I can spend a lot of time in my head, dreaming up a story. But you can't stay in that dream-space. You have to sit down and get the words onto the page.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age?
Again, I'll point to connection. Right now, in the midst of the pandemic, we can't be together. But we can hold other lives, other opinions, other worlds in our hands and read. I’ve found solace in books in the last five months, as well as in my writing. At first, writing seemed useless in the face of all that was happening. The more time I spent at the computer, though, the more I realized how important it still is to create and connect.
Tina Egnoski's Burn Down This World is out now with Adelaide Books.