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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Nancy Rubin Stuart

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing captures life in a way that no other media can do. Consider the hieroglyphics of Egypt. Admittedly they are on stone, but they tell a story which transcends the ages. To write is to express a perspective which may reach hundreds, perhaps thousands or even millions of readers and serve to entertain, educate or comfort them. I write because I wish to capture life in all its complexities, curiosities and consolations for the brevity of our earthly existence.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I suspect writers block comes from overworking, an upsetting problem or anxiety about the quality of one’s work. On the few occasions I’ve had writer’s block, I’ve taken a break from my desk; read more; worked on the garden, taken walks, visited with friends and/or become involved in other positive activities. Wen I do finally return to my desk I tell myself I’m just playing around on the screen — nothing serious. That seems to reduce my worries about not being “good enough” and before long, I find I’m beginning to write something exciting.

What is your favorite time to write? I love to write first thing in the morning but that doesn’t always happen in this era of 24/7 emails. Occasionally I write late at night. Not only is everything quiet but also my best ideas seem to flow more freely.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? The traditional advice “write what you know” is a good starting point but I’d amend that. Today I’d suggest that it’s also important to write about what fills you with passion. It’s uncanny but writing about something or someone (even if fictional) which excites you, becomes transmitted onto the page. More often than not, the reader senses it and grooves with it.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Despite all the problems associated with electronic communication, the act of writing and editing is so much easier than the days of typewriters. Added to that is the wider world of the digital universe. Being there opens today’s writers to a thousand and one possibilities of what and how to create on the page and screen.

Nancy Rubin Stuart’s Poor Richard’s Women: Deborah Read Franklin and the Other Women Behind the Founding Father is out March 15 with Beacon Press.