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Member Spotlight: Dan Burns

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I write because I must, to extract the stories pressing on his mind. Only by getting words down onto the page can I make room for all that comes next and fend off the otherwise resulting madness. If I don’t write, I’m not a writer, and if I’m not a writer, then what am I? Writing is an essential medium for the world because it requires that the reader and writer get away from all of life’s distractions to invest the requisite time to appropriately realize (and benefit from) the magic of the story.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? It’s crucial for me always to be working on several projects simultaneously—novel, short story, essay, blog entry, poem, etc.—which is the perfect cure for writer’s block. If I get stuck on one project, I’ll set it aside and work on something else. I’m always surprised at how many writing projects I complete in a given year without a pause.

What is your favorite time to write? I am most productive in the morning before the distractions of the day have time to disrupt the progress. And when the ideas are flowing, and the writing is going well, I try not to stop, even if it carries me through the afternoon and evening. I always worry that if I don’t get the words down when they’re fresh, I risk losing them–forever.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Advice that I have received from some of my favorite authors that I’d like to share with any aspiring writer is simply this: sit down and write! Many people talk about wanting to be a writer, and the effort stops there–with only talk. Differentiate yourself from all the rest by getting the words down onto the page. Only then are you a writer. Go even further and publish your book and differentiate yourself even more. I’ll also add that a writer must understand that writing is a business, and you cannot have a successful business with only one product. I knew this when I began my writing career, but it became more evident after the publication of my first book, particularly when friends, family members, and readers asked, “When’s the next book coming?” So, on any given day, I’m marketing, publicizing, and selling my last book, writing the current one, and planning for the next one.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? There’s nothing more exciting than getting the words down onto the page and then the next day, upon re-reading the words, wondering where they came from. There is a beautiful and unbelievably rewarding benefit to being a writer, and it is the realization that there might be one other person in the world who is willing to read the sequence of words I have strung together and make an effort to interpret those words subjectively. That’s the magic of the story and the wonder of fiction.

Dan Burns’s A Necessary Explosion is out June 25 with Chicago Arts Press.