David Liss is the author of historical thrillers such as The Devil’s Company and The Whiskey Rebels.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
I always see writers block as a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with the project on which I'm working. There's just about always a reason why I'm not moving forward, so I try and figure out what that reason is—what wrong turn I've taken. Many times I don't want to recognize that I've made some kind of misstep, because it often means serious backtracking and throwing away work, but the sooner I admit that I need to fix something fundamental, the sooner I can get back to the business of moving forward.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
Honestly, sitting down at my computer. I am a no-nonsense writer. I work on a schedule and when it's time to write, I mean business. Plus, I love what I do, so you could say my prompt is getting to do it.
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
Probably the best advice I ever got came from my wife. I was working on my second novel and trying to write less like myself and more like a novelist I admired. My wife read some pages, handed them back and said, "This is awful. Stop trying to write like someone else and write like yourself." I always pass this along to young writers. Every talented writer has a unique style, and the key to success and happiness is developing your own style, not trying to imitate someone else.