Real Secrets of Expert Authors

Publish date:

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.


On Twitter: @jessicastrawser / @writersdigest
You're invited: Join the new WD community at

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

The Problem of Solving a Mystery When You're the Prime Suspect

Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic & Adobo, explains how writers can help their main character solve a mystery when they're the prime suspect.

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, invite an unexpected visitor into your story.

7 Tips for Writing a Near Future Dystopian Novel

7 Tips for Writing a Near-Future Dystopian Novel

In this article, debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird explains how writers can expertly craft a near-future dystopian novel.