Skip to main content
Publish date:

Sue Grafton on the same lesson she learns every book (plus, a Thanksgiving prompt)


When you write, it’s easy to lose the plot—forget what drew you in about writing in the first place, what kept you around, why you do this strange thing you do. Even for Sue Grafton. And I find that strangely liberating.

Image placeholder title

Here’s the latest from Promptly’s Top 20 Tips From WD in 2010 series (the quote-worthy quips that branded themselves in my mind when we were creating these magazines throughout the year). A regular prompt follows. Have a great holiday week.

No. 13: Shadowplay

WD: What have you learned in writing the [Alphabet] series?
“I’m learning the same lesson every single time. I’m learning to trust the process. I’m trying to remember that writing should be a form of play. I keep saying the fate of the free world does not hang in the balance. Even if I write a book that fails, nothing will happen. I’ll be mortified and embarrassed, but lives will not be lost over this. I take writing terribly seriously, and sometimes that just gets in my way. Writing is about the Shadow, which is about play. I just have to learn that again."
—Sue Grafton, The WD Interview, by Diana Page Jordan, February 2010 (click here to check the rest of the issue out)

And, one more interesting tidbit from the interview:

“I don’t think of myself as an author. I think of myself as a writer, because writing is what I do. I’m always taken aback when others refer to me as 'famous' or a 'celebrity.' What a weird idea. The concept has no real application. It doesn’t serve a writer to start thinking of herself in those terms because it interferes with the work. Writing is an internal process. Success is external and not something we can control in any event. I foster that disconnect because it keeps me grounded."

(Image: Via)

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: The Bird Isn't the Word
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
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

You’re at Thanksgiving dinner, and discover that there’s no turkey this year. Instead, there’s something else on the table.

* * *

Also, if you’re not planning to spend the wee hours of Nov. 26 standing outside a Wal-Mart at 4 a.m. and are on the hunt for writerly gifts, I’m told we’re going to have some deals on the WD sites. On Thanksgiving day, there’s free shipping at writersdigestshop.com, and on Black Friday (through Sunday) most things in the shop will have a 20 percent off discount (use coupon code WDS192).

Agent Advice

Agent Advice: Analieze Cervantes of The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

Agent Advice (this installment featuring Analieze Cervantes of The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 4 WDU Courses, an Upcoming Webinar, Submission Deadline for Your Favorite Writing Websites, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 4 WDU courses, an upcoming webinar on creating an author website, and more!

How To Find the Right Professional Editor for Your Writing

How To Find the Right Professional Editor for Your Writing

It's not enough to know when your manuscript is ready for a professional edit—it's knowing who is the right fit to do the editing. Here, Tiffany Yates Martin discusses how to find the right professional editor for your writing.

From Script

Understanding the Writer and Agent Relationship (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read an intimate interview with Verve Literary Agent and Partner David Boxerbaum about the state of the spec market, the relationship between a writer and agent, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

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 is ending your story too soon.

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes with Magic

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes With Magic

In this post, trained fighter and author Carla Hoch explores the process of writing fight scenes with magic—how to make the unbelievable believable, how limitations bring us closer to our characters, and more.

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

If you're a freelance writer who is able to secure assignments, an essential tool you'll need is an invoice. In this post, Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer shares a very basic and easy invoice template for freelance writers to get the job done (and get paid).

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

A career behind the curtain helped Amy Neswald in creating her own stories. Here, the author shares 3 things being a broadway wig master taught her about storytelling.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let things get a little out of control.