The Top 20 Lessons From WD Mag in 2009: No. 20

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Hey writers,

The 90th anniversary issue of WD is fast approaching (it’s our January 2010 installment, which ships to subscribers Nov. 24 and hits newsstands Dec. 15), and Editor Jessica Strawser and I are rapidly working to get everything out on time.

Which means another year of magazines is about to start. Being the type of person who has a hard time parting with anything (I still have a rather hearty collection of Pez dispensers, not to mention roughly everything I’ve ever written), I want to hang onto the 2009 series of WD magazines for as long as possible. When you work on them long enough, they become a bit like old pals—quotable and even sometimes annoyingly omnipresent, but you're always sad to see them go.

Thus, to give the 2009 WDs their due, I’m counting down to the January 2010 issue two times per week with my favorite 20 writing lessons from the year. Think simple, quotable passages of wisdom from Stephen King, Rick Steves and others, from the bestseller to the savvy newbie.

No. 20: Get Messy
“During the course of writing six novels, I realized that the days when the truth shone brightest were the days my pen flowed the freest and messiest across the pages. And I was rewarded with longer and longer satisfactory passages. It’s paradoxical that giving up control rewards you with what you seek most: concise, insightful work.”
—Elizabeth Sims, on how writing freely without initial self-editing can bring new life to your prose, in “Rough It Up,” from the January 2009 issue of WD.

After each installment of tips, you’ll receive a regular helping of writing prompts to spark new life into your work. And don’t forget to stop by next Monday, Oct. 5. New York Times bestseller Dianna Love will share some great insights about her creative process, and offer prompts and a couple of copies of her new book, Break Into Fiction.

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Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below:

You decide to give up an old habit—in exchange for something that was originally promised to you years ago.

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