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Member Spotlight: Richard Panchyk

author Richard Panchyk and an image of his book Escape '56

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing has been important to me since I was 7 years old. I have always loved telling stories. I have always found the process of creating to be exciting. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head and writing is the best way to free them. The best thing about writing is that anyone can write. It does not have to be meant for publication ; it can be private and therapeutic. Anyone can benefit from writing, regardless of whether it’s a few paragraphs or a few thousand pages.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? The best thing I can do for writer’s block is step away from the computer, go outside, and do something physical. Engaging a different part of the brain and exercising the body is good because it releases endorphins. Getting air, sunshine (or even rain or snow) is a great distraction. After that, it is often easier to write again, feeling refreshed and ready. And as I am usually working on several writing projects at once, if I have writer’s block on one thing, I may switch to a different project for a while; that’s another trick I use.

What is your favorite time to write? It varies. Some mornings I wake up wanting to write even before I have had breakfast or showered. Other days I am up past midnight writing. I think I like writing best when I am alone, when it’s quiet and I can think clearly. But when I am on a deadline, then my favorite time to write is anytime because the desire to be finished takes precedence and wanting to know that feeling of completion makes all times good times to write.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? The best advice I received was from Kurt Vonnegut. I asked him once what advice he had for aspiring writers and he said “Do it for the love of it. It’s a way of becoming graceful.” I love that. Becoming graceful. I think of that often and apply it to other things in my life. To be graceful means to me feeling natural and right, feeling that I’ve created something beautiful.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Being a writer these days gives the potential to reach more readers than ever, with all the various formats that are now available and with the power of the internet (and social media) as a means to advertise and spread the word. Thousands of people have bought my books in e-book format over the years. New technology also makes POD and lower print runs feasible, thus allowing books to be published that may not have been a couple of decades ago.

Richard Panchyk’s Escape ’56 is out March 28 with Seven Stories Press.