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What embarrassing moments made you a better writer?


Around the Writer’s Digest office, like everyone, we have our share of embarrassing moments-we’ll-never-speak-of-again-(after-this-blog)-that-taught-us-valuable-lessons-about-this-or-that.

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For instance, there are the general ones that educated us about the prevention of head-slapping by immediate research when brainstorming: the editor who had "Pittacus Lore" jotted down on a list of potential authors to interview, or the otherwise typically spot-on staffer (ahem) who made a quick note a few years back to reach out to new novelist Stieg Larsson.

There are the nonfiction-writing ones: the time I received an assignment early in my career to write reviews featuring in-depth language about gourmet food offerings, only to realize in horror that I’d been surviving on McDonald's and microwavable soup, and was vastly unqualified. As I admitted my diet choices to the editor and informed him I was probably the wrong man for the job (likely pulling from my pocket proof in the form of vending machine mini-muffins), he shrugged, wished me luck and revealed one of the greatest things about journalism: Even when you’re wildly out of your element, you can always ask the right questions.

There are also the cautionary tales: The computer self-destruction in which the majority of a novel was lost, simply because its owner never gave the ancient laptop, with its life-support labyrinth of plugs, external memory, external keyboard, external mouse and duct tape, a once-over before backing up the latest draft on a flash drive.

Mistakes, oversights, gaffes, snafus, whatever you want to call them, they happen.

So for a special project we’re working on, we want to know: What embarrassing moments made you a better writer?

Here’s the official pitch from our newsletter:

“We all make mistakes. But the best writers learn from them, rise above them and even find ways to transform them into happy accidents. Whether your story is funny, humbling or an important lesson learned the hard way, we want to hear from you. Share your experience in 150 words or fewer and e-mail it—along with your name, city and state—to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with "Lessons Learned" in the subject line. Your story could appear in a future issue of Writer's Digest!”

Send your tale our way. Our cheeks have been red before, too. But, hey—to this day, we can still tell you a few things about the merits of Chinese truffles over chicken fries. And if you wanted us to, we could even write about it.

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