This year, we probably got the most nerdy literary joy out of creating September’s Big 10 issue of WD, for which the editor of the magazine and I had a chance to get in touch with a handful of our favorite writers. We asked each of them for a Top 10 list on some facet of writing, and the awesome Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck) delivered his Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life. One of those is the latest in Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series. A regular prompt follows (and a swag drawing is on its way Friday). Here’s to the power of the subconscious.
No. 9: Snooze as Muse
“Knowing Where to Stop: My favorite ‘trick’ is to stop writing at a point where I know that I can pick up easily the next day. I’ll stop in midparagraph, often in midsentence. It makes getting out of bed so much easier, because I know that all I’ll have to do to be productive is complete the sentence. And by then I’ll be seated at my desk, coffee and Oreo cookie at hand, the morning’s inertia overcome. There’s an added advantage: The human brain hates incomplete sentences. All night my mind will have secretly worked on the passage and likely mapped out the remainder of the page, even the chapter, while simultaneously sending me on a dinner date with Cate Blanchett.”
—Erik Larson, “The WD Interview Takes Ten,” September 2010 (check out the rest of the issue here)
[And, as a bonus—]
“Physical Diversion: When I stop writing, I need an escape—something that takes me out of the work and wholly into another realm. My main diversion is tennis, though I also find cooking to be very helpful. Something about chopping onions is very restorative. Dogs are helpful, too. They force you to go outside and confront the weather, although my dog did once eat a 19th-century edition of a British physicist’s autobiography.”
Image: Joe Mabel [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
WRITING PROMPT: Quotes/Clichés/Sayings
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.
Start a story with one of your least favorite quotes, clichés or sayings. End it with one of your favorites.