How did you become a writer?
My passion for writing began at the age of ten when my grandmother and caretaker committed suicide in my childhood home. My mother had been an English major in college and had the good sense to buy me a journal and tell me to write my heart out. I sat for hours on end in my room, which was next to my late grandmother’s, writing about my sadness at her loss. Since then, I’ve been using writing as a spiritual practice and as a way of healing. I wrote during my turbulent adolescence, my three pregnancies on bed rest, and my two cancer diagnoses.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Because of that first journal, which had Kahlil Gibran quotes at the top of each page, I was very influenced by his work. And, since I was young, I’ve loved reading biographies and learning about how other people have lived their lives. In the sixth grade, I wrote a book report on one of those biographical works, and my English teacher gave me an A+, telling me I was an amazing writer and had a lot of potential in that area. His words had an enormous effect on me. During graduate school, while earning my MFA, I read the diaries of Anaïs Nin, and she greatly inspired me. In addition to keeping a journal, we had a number of things in common: we’d both encountered a significant loss at the age of ten—I’d lost my grandmother, and her father had left her family for a younger woman—and we’d both turned to journaling as a way of healing.
When and where do you write?
I actually do my best writing in airplanes, probably because of the lack of distractions. I also have a wonderful studio at home where I do a lot of my work. When I want a change, I sit at a table in my garden or go to a coffee shop.
What are you working on now?
I’m very busy marketing and promoting my latest book, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life. I’m also teaching a lot of workshops that focus on the content of that book.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I rarely have writer’s block. I don’t really believe in it. When we have a difficult time creating, I consider that to be “brewing” time. Writers are always at work, even if they’re not physically writing. When I don’t feel like writing, I’m either engaged in conversation with those who inspire me, or I read the works of others who do.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“When it hurts, write harder,” said my dear colleague and friend Philip Deaver.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Persevere, and write about what you’re passionate about. Never write just for the market, because chances are it will not be your best writing. Experiment with many genres, and see where your voice seems most authentic.
Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and award-winning author of nine books. Her work has been widely published and anthologized in over 500 publications. She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, PsychAlive, Boomer Café and Elephant Journal. She’s editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge; two memoirs: Regina’s Closet and Healing with Words, and four poetry collections, including Lust. Her latest book is Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life (September 2017). Her website: dianaraab.com.