Real Secrets of Expert Authors

Which came first: The expert author or the book? It depends. Consider today’s installment of Promptly’s Top 20 Lessons from WD in 2009 series:

#13: Your Enthusiasm Is Contagious
“People think you’re an expert when you write a book; it gives you some authority, whether you deserve it or not. I took advantage of that. I became more of an expert after writing the book–not before writing the book–and then the credibility the book got me was worthwhile. You just find something you’re passionate about and share it creatively and enthusiastically, and if it’s viable, it’s going to succeed.” –Travel writer/radio and TV host Rick Steves, as interviewed in the July/August 2009 issue of WD.

I think it’s the second half of what Rick’s saying that’s really key: If you’re sharing something you’re genuinely passionate about, that kind of authenticity is going to resonate with your audience in a way that only you can.

This, then, is the inspiration for today’s prompt:

Writing Prompt:
As quickly as you can—without over-thinking it—make a list of five things you’re an “expert” in. (It could be microbiology, it could be blogging, it could be finding a way to rationalize buying a $4 cup of coffee a day, or it could be talking your wife into letting you watch “just five more minutes” of the game.) Choose one and use it as the inspiration for a story—fiction or nonfiction, funny or serious—in 500 words or fewer.

We’d love it if you’d share your response in the comments field below!

And until next time, as Rick Steves would say, Keep On Writing.

Jessica


On Twitter: @jessicastrawser / @writersdigest

You’re invited: Join the new WD community at http://writersdigest.ning.com

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4 thoughts on “Real Secrets of Expert Authors

  1. Mark James

    I’m an expert in lots of things, most of them non-significant, like making top ten lists for stupid things. Here’s one. The top ten list of what to do when stuck at a red light and you’re running late:

    1) Take another sip of coffee. Is it gonna make you more hyper? Yeah. But hell, you paid six bucks for it. Might as well sip it while it’s hot.

    2) Fantasize about owning a car so big, it would make a tank look tiny, and rolling right through the red light. Yeah. Let that traffic cop on his little toy motorcycle come after you now. You’ll show him what’s what.

    3) Thinking about a plot a twist that you just can’t get to work right. Guaranteed, the one time you think of exactly the right answer, the answer you’ll never think of again, you won’t have a pen that works, your dictation feature on your phone won’t work, you won’t have any paper, and when you finally dig a pen and paper out of the glove compartment and you’re just about to write it down, the light changes, and you’re first in line.

    4) Read the headlines of the newspaper. Just the headlines, mind you. So, if your paper is bent in half, you’ll read something like “Lost Man Found in Canal with Naked . . .” and you can’t read the rest. When you get to work and unfold it, it’ll read something utterly fascinating like, “Lost Man Found in Canal With Naked, Featherless Chicken”

    5) Count all the birds on the wires. What are they doing up there anyway – morning convention?

    6) Think of the excuses your boss hasn’t heard yet for why you’re late.

    7) Play with the scan button on your radio. One time, I think I heard an extra-terrestrial transmission.

    8) Listen to politics on Talk Radio. That’s always a nice escape into a fantasy world where the blind leading the blind would be a marked improvement.

    9) Focus on the red light. Now, you’re a writer, so use your visualization skills to picture a green light. Come on. You can do it. Focus.

    10) Last, but not least, take another sip of that six dollar cup of coffee, and ask yourself why, for six bucks, a certain chain of expensive coffee (that shall go unnamed) can’t make coffee that stays hot til you get to work.

    11) Think of a plan for a Time Machine that pushes you exactly five minutes into the future. That way, next time you’re stuck at a red light, you press the Five Minute Button, and there you are – at the next red light. In fact, that’s why this is number eleven on a Top Ten list, because you pressed the Five Minute Button, and you’ve jumped forward in time, and you’ve started the list at number one, at the next red light. See you in five minutes.

  2. Sharmain C Saldana

    The Box

    I am expert in getting people to think outside of the box. So many people tend only to go as far in their thinking or actions, as they believe they can and sometimes one word, one sentence, one action can break the barrier of familiarity or confidence within a person. I thrive on challenging people to delve deeper within their soul and resurface renewed as in a rebirth. More time than not people tend to lose themselves in a vicious circle they created. Breaking the circle and stepping outside the box of their day-to-day practices of life, they emerge more alive and open to change. Without change there is no progress only stagnation. Stagnation leads to absolutely nothing but a deep, long sleep, in a reality that had died for them years ago. The utterances I have for them are purposeful and have meaning, far more meaning than the repetition of their hollowed sleepy steps. Click, clack, click, clack… day in and day out the only motion, which is guiding them are the dredging of the chains shackled to their ankles. No thought is needed, no light to shine on the path they are all too familiar with; all they need is the path created by their own demise of settling. Settling for what they know, settling for a choice they made so many years ago, with all hope lost. They are a prisoner within their own soul, trapped between the four walls they call home, trapped in the box that holds them steady and constant within the barriers of their own mind. Slowly and consistently, the utterances come from outside this world of familiarity, “Wake Up”, “Live”, “Resuscitation” … “Deep breath in” … “Long exhale out.” There, the color is coming back into your face again, your cheeks are a soft pink and the focus of your eyes are no longer closed, I have you if just for a moment and with each word, life is reborn. Step out; step out, one foot at a time. Look around, what do you see? Life— see what you have missed while you were asleep…. The people, the beauty, all created on purpose not just an accident. Created to bask in, roll in, swim in…Do not let it allude you, take hold and breath it in on breath at a time. Breathe as if it was your last breath and mean it. “Deep breathe in”…. “Long exhale out …..” The box slowly fades to black as the shadows of the past; you are free, now run!

  3. Sharmain C Saldana

    The Box

    I am expert in getting people to think outside of the box. So many people tend only to go as far in their thinking or actions, as they believe they can and sometimes one word, one sentence, one action can break the barrier of familiarity or confidence within a person. I thrive on challenging people to delve deeper within their soul and resurface renewed as in a rebirth. More time than not people tend to lose themselves in a vicious circle they created. Breaking the circle and stepping outside the box of their day-to-day practices of life, they emerge more alive and open to change. Without change there is no progress only stagnation. Stagnation leads to absolutely nothing but a deep, long sleep, in a reality that had died for them years ago. The utterances I have for them are purposeful and have meaning, far more meaning than the repetition of their hollowed sleepy steps. Click, clack, click, clack… day in and day out the only motion, which is guiding them are the dredging of the chains shackled to their ankles. No thought is needed, no light to shine on the path they are all too familiar with; all they need is the path created by their own demise of settling. Settling for what they know, settling for a choice they made so many years ago, with all hope lost. They are a prisoner within their own soul, trapped between the four walls they call home, trapped in the box that holds them steady and constant within the barriers of their own mind. Slowly and consistently, the utterances come from outside this world of familiarity, “Wake Up”, “Live”, “Resuscitation” … “Deep breath in” … “Long exhale out.” There, the color is coming back into your face again, your cheeks are a soft pink and the focus of your eyes are no longer closed, I have you if just for a moment and with each word, life is reborn. Step out; step out, one foot at a time. Look around, what do you see? Life— see what you have missed while you were asleep…. The people, the beauty, all created on purpose not just an accident. Created to bask in, roll in, swim in…Do not let it allude you, take hold and breath it in on breath at a time. Breathe as if it was your last breath and mean it. “Deep breathe in”…. “Long exhale out …..” The box slowly fades to black as the shadows of the past; you are free, now run!

  4. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Time Warp

    I am an expert in remembering the little details that don’t amount to a hill of beans. Keep in mind the fact that I have never cared much for beans. Especially refried beans. Nasty stuff. It looks like someone ate it already, if you know what I mean.
    Back to what I was talking about: hills. There are rolling hills, the kind that makes your stomach surge with that up and down, about to hurl chunks kind of feeling. My dad’s laughter would ring out with a John Wayne type of laugh when he would drive our woody station wagon up and down the dusty trails of the Wisconsin barrens where the wild blueberries grew. That’s down Highway C, just out of Washburn. Never mind the fact that Dad sort of looked a bit like The Duke, who Dad said once worked for Fox Film Corporation for a measly seventy five dollars a week. Just try paying my Dad only seventy five dollars a week and think you’d still be sitting tall in the saddle! Dad had a way of lassoing his belt into a loop that he could hold in two hands, and let me tell you, if you were so foolish as to stick your finger into that hole, he could snap it shut before you could pull your finger back out. Now that was some mighty fast rope’n.
    Rope, of course, is thicker and stronger than similarly constructed line, cord, string, or twine. I have lots of fun tying knots into this or that. Did you know that the earliest forms of rope dates back to prehistoric times when natural fibers were roughly twisted together? Then Egyptians, too, dating as far back as 3,500 B.C., even developed tools to help them make rope out of water reeds.
    There were probably a few seaweed ropes made by Polynesians along the reefs. So you see, a reefer wasn’t really a modern idea, but when my Dad’s boy Wayne lost his battle with lung cancer, it was still not enough to convince Dad to stop smoking. Go figure. You’d think he had more sense.
    Sense and Sensibility, that’s what my Mother always says I have. Miss Jane Austin published that in 1881, but it still fits me today. Not just because I once took a scissor to my sister’s eyebrows like Willoughby when he cut a lock of Marianne’s hair, but more because Mom says I am the epitome of subtle irony. Yes, I have ironed a few shirts in my time. Of course now, most younger kids don’t have a clue what I’m talking about because all their fabrics are wash and wear.
    Where was I? Oh, yeah. Beans. Did I ever tell you about the time my Grandpa fed beans to our Springer Spaniel? That was a good one.

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