Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon FogartyMignon Fogarty is the author and creator of the educational podcast Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

I only get writer's block when I don't have a deadline, so I try to have deadlines for things I actually want to write. Sometimes people will give me an assignment—something like a blog post or op-ed piece—and think they are being nice by saying I can turn it in whenever I have it ready. Those are the projects I'm least likely to finish.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

Since I don't write fiction, I don't use traditional writing prompts, but I get a lot of my ideas from things I read—both news events and specific sentences or words that catch my eye give me ideas for articles. I spend a lot of time reading, especially online.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

When I was in college, I figured out quickly that I could skip class and still get great grades, so I spent most of my time goofing around. One of my English professors, whose class I rarely attended, told me I should drop out. She said it took more than talent to be a successful writer, and I was wasting my time, her time, and my parents' money. It was a huge shock to be told to drop out, so it made an impression on me. I don't remember her name, since I wasn't very engaged in her class, but I'm sure she'd be surprised to see what a hard worker I am today.