Staying True to Yourself in Publishing

As part of the fun and literary madness of our September 2010 Big 10 issue, we convinced memoirist extraordinaire Wade Rouse to send us a list of his Top 10 Ways to Stay True to Yourself in Publishing. A few of his (hilarious) points make up today’s installment of the Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (and a regular prompt follows). Only two more to go. Believe in the voice!

No. 3: Staying True
Be Funny, Honey! I used to worry (and read) that humor writing was too subjective to be successful. But I realized that—besides great hair, a wicked arch and a penchant for spending my Roth IRA on lip shimmer—humor was really the only thing I had going for me. Don’t ever doubt your voice.”

Look like your author shot. Seriously. If you have to crop out LBJ, or Photoshop in a full collar on that Nehru jacket, it’s time for a new photo. When you show up looking nothing like you did when you were 25, your fans will consider you a sellout.”

Heed The Advice of My Mentors, My Mom and Erma Bombeck. I once sang ‘Delta Dawn’ in a rural middle school talent contest to a gym filled with Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn look-alikes who all laughed into their cowboy hats. My mom told me after it was over, ‘You were true to yourself. And that can only lead to happiness.’ She bought me a journal and introduced me to Erma’s column. I will forever have two Midwestern moms who taught me, as Erma once said,  ‘Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it most, and rewards you for your courage.’ So laugh. Write. Be true to yourself. Happiness will follow and reward you for your courage.”

—Wade Rouse, September 2010 (click here to check the full issue out, which also features Top 10 lists from Chuck Palahniuk, Jodi Picoult, Erik Larson, Sherman Alexie and Karin Slaughter)


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.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
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As the snow melted, he discovered a chunk of a lost past.

Also! If you’re looking to get started in writing, or to launch a fresh salvo for your words in 2011—be it to chip away at that novel you have in the works, or to grow a short story into something more—Writer’s Digest’s latest kit might be able to help. Available only in January (fewer than 40 remain, and they’re available at more than 70 percent off the sticker prices), WD has bundled together the online workshop Getting Started in Writing, the book First Draft in 30 Days, the book From First Draft to Finished Novel, the Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner, a webinar on first pages, the magazine Writing Basics, and the book Keys to Great Writing. Check it all out here.

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