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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Tom Fowler

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I think it’s important to get stories out into the world. Many people have things to say, and the world needs to hear them. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to get your book or your message in front of readers than ever before.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Well, I don’t think writer’s block is really a thing, which is probably an unusual opinion. But doctors don’t get “surgeon’s block” before they scrub up. I think what we commonly call writer’s block comes from not knowing where you want to take your story. I was a “pantser” for my first three books–someone who wrote by the seat of my pants. No outline, only a few notes as I went through the first draft. With my third book, I wrote myself into a corner. While I eventually got out of it (“If you’re ever unsure of what to do, have a man walk in with a gun,” to paraphrase Chandler), I didn’t want to go down this road again. With my fourth novel, I started outlining. In writer-speak, this makes me a plotter rather than a pantser. My outlines aren’t long . . . probably 3-4 pages in total. They first focus on characters and conflicts before drilling down into the story. Even if you don’t want to do an outline in advance, jotting down a note about what should happen next can set you up well the next time you write.

What is your favorite time to write? Late morning to early afternoon. My problem with the whole “get up early and write” idea is the getting up early part. I’ve been a night owl since high school, and waking up with the roosters to bang out some words just doesn’t work well for me.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? You don’t have to write every day. I think many authors hear they should write every day. The common advice says we should lock ourselves in a room and only emerge after a certain number of hours or words. This is just what worked for someone else. Good for them, but it’s not for everyone. I try to write every day, but between having a family and a day job, it doesn’t always happen. My word count goal is weekly, so even if I can’t do much one day, there are others. If writing every day is for you, great. Stick with it. But if it’s not, don’t force it. What works for one person isn’t going to work for everyone.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The ease of getting a story out there. I’ve been an indie author since I started. Readers are agnostic about where stories come from. They just want to be entertained.

Tom Fowler’s White Lines is out tomorrow with Widening Gyre Media.