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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Alan Weisman

author Alan Weisman looking directly at the camera and an image of his book The World Without Us (anniversary edition)

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? 1) I’m incompetent at anything else. 2) It’s pure magic that a few little jots and swirls, lined up differently each time, can convey entire universes, huge sweeps of time, what apples taste like, what love feels like, how I’m doing — or make us laugh or cry or cringe. We need all the magic we can get.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Refuse to quit. Stare at the blank page or screen until it relents. Set a daily word limit and don’t quit until you’ve reached it, even if it’s already tomorrow.

What is your favorite time to write? Three in the afternoon. Try as I might, it’s rare when anything happens before then.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? “Figure out what you would do if you could do anything you wanted,” Mr. Famous Writer told me. “Then stop doing everything else BUT that, and you’ll be living your dream life. Do it, and you’ll lead a rich, rewarding, exciting, fascinating, wonderful, difficult life.” He sure got that right.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The same as ever: being able, 17 drafts later, to finally coax words into the correct order. A miracle each time.

Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us (Anniversary Edition) is out with Thomas Dunne Books.