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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Peter D. Loftus

author Peter Loftus smiling at the camera and an image of his book The Messenger

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing is the best way for me to organize my thoughts, and to communicate what I really want to say. It’s important to me because I cherish when something I read moves me or even changes my life. This inspires me to try to elevate my own writing. It’s an important medium because writing engages the reader, and can convey and reflect the complexities of our world in a way that other media can’t.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I try to eliminate distractions, like logging out of social media. It also helps to go for a walk to think over what I’m trying to write. And in some cases (mainly in my day job as a journalist), it helps to print out a draft or notes from interviews and to go someplace other than my desk to look them over and come up with a writing plan. Sometimes I’ll look at an old picture of my dad, who was an aerospace engineer in the ’60s and ’70s, and imagine him saying, “I helped put satellites into space, you can do this.”

What is your favorite time to write? My favorite time to write is in the morning because I feel most alert and energized then. Afternoons are for interviews, other research.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? This may apply more to nonfiction and journalism, but one good piece of advice is to anticipate questions that will arise in the reader’s mind, and answer them, especially “why.” Slow down, give the writing room to breathe. Don’t rush to something new without giving the reader a moment to soak in a scene.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I’m excited about the possibility that something I’ve written will inform a reader, help them learn something new, or to think differently about a topic. A good piece of writing with trusted, accurate information is a much-needed counterpoint to the downsides of social media, memes and around-the-clock news cycles, but I also see the benefits of using social media to spread the word.

Peter D. Loftus’s The Messenger: Moderna, the Vaccine, and the Business Gamble That Changed the World is out now with Harvard Business Review.