Skip to main content

Have No Fear

Editor Tyler Moss takes us on a brief tour of the January 2018 issue of Writer's Digest magazine.

[Don't miss your chance to enter the Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition
—deadline Dec. 15.]

Image placeholder title

In the editor's letter from the January 2018 issue of Writer's Digest, Tyler Moss challenges writers to dive into their work without fear.

When I was in third grade, I was hit in the mouth with a baseball.

I’d love to say it was from diving for a grounder or crowding the plate while a pitcher served me a wild fastball, but it was nothing so glamorous: During warmups, I absent-mindedly wandered between two teammates playing catch.

The damage was minimal—just a split lip, a sore jaw and the ensuing tears—but it was the shock of it that really stuck. It had never occurred to me that the sport I loved could cause bodily harm, and from then on the prospect of being hit again struck such fear in me that I became absolutely useless on the diamond. I cowered from pop flies and shivered in the batter’s box as pitchers pelted strikes in my direction.

This overt anxiety didn’t go unnoticed by my mother, who was not one to stand around and watch me mope. She pulled out my dad’s old glove and dragged me into the backyard, insisting we toss the baseball for an hour, daily. At first I whimpered every time she chucked it over, but gradually, the weeks of practice paid off. I became more self-assured, more skilled, and a month later I was able to return to the field with new, improved capabilities. Without fear.

Image placeholder title

Advice from Deb Caletti, page 21

In this month’s Writer's Digest Interview (Page 42), The Martian author Andy Weir told me, “There’s this feeling in the world that artistic ability is just a gift and there’s nothing else to it. I think that it’s a skill set. It’s a thing you need to learn how to do—you need to get better at it.” Maybe fear of rejection is your baseball in the mouth. Or it’s anxiety that you lack the creativity and dedication to follow through. Doubts that are holding you back. Weir wrote two other novels before The Martian—two manuscripts both met with rejection, now banished to a folder on his PC. Practice novels.

Image placeholder title

page 25

As we slide into 2018, remember that you are an artisan. Writing is your craft, and every word—every chapter—further sharpens that skill set. It’s this same enterprising spirit that drove Editor-at-Large Jessica Strawser—whose face used to don this very page—to persist through her own drawer-exiled manuscript, and who is now working full time on her third book with St. Martin’s Press. Every master was at one point a novice. Forget agents and publishers: Prove to yourself you have the drive to write that novel. This year is your year.

Image placeholder title

page 30

And this issue is your backyard. The place where you can hone your craft, build confidence, find inspiration. You’ll learn why every story has worth (Page 20), and how to pull more from your paragraphs (Page 24). Discover how to place your characters in harrowing binds (Page 32), deliver jaw-dropping twists (Page 28) and handle hot-button issues with the deft care they deserve (Page 36).

So stop hiding behind the backstop. A new year is nigh, and we have no doubt you’ll knock your novel right out of the park.

Get your copy of the January 2018 issue of Writer's Digest here, or subscribe to get insights from WD all year long.

Vérant

Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

Author and athlete Henriette Lazaridis shares six tips and habits that writers can learn from athletes.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.