Hello and happy Wednesday!
Or perhaps it’s not simply happy, because we have a serious topic today. And that’s writing.
Being a writer is hard. It’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, and it often leads to a lot of stress, disappointment, and burnout. It’s a wonder that anyone chooses to do it. I’m not quite sure why anyone would (boy, they must be strange).
There are countless writers all over the world, all suffering the same fate. Some of them may actually think they enjoy it – that the impact they know they’re making on others’ lives is worth any difficulty – but purpose and satisfaction do strange things to people. Emotions like happiness and pride in a job well done can often lead people to continue doing something everyone else knows is silly, like pouring your heart onto paper.
Sane people know that writing is a road best left alone, because once someone feels they have a passion for it and starts down that path, there’s no going back. Which is why today’s topic is so important. The only way to stop this growing epidemic of writers is to spread the truth.
Stories are dangerous. Writing can be addicting. Readers may become unwaveringly loyal.
If you – like me – have become victim to this condition, your last flicker of hope lies in the advice of those who can help you not to succeed in your writing journey. Follow their direction and allow yourself to cast aside treacherous thoughts, especially ones that suggest you don’t want to stop writing after all. It may not be too late for you.
So in a desperate attempt to free you from your suffering, here are my best tips for ruining your chances of success as a writer. Best (or should I say, worst) of luck, my poor friend.
Do It All Alone
It’s common knowledge that one of the best ways to fail on your writing journey is by doing it completely and totally alone. Friends? Community? Support? What are those? If you’re serious about ruining your writing process or stopping it before it starts, you definitely need to draw back and become a hermit.
Don’t talk to anyone about your writing. Or even faster, don’t talk to anyone at all. Don’t share your ideas, keep them inside, festering until you second-guess them. If you’re stuck, don’t look for help, ask for advice, or search for how-to articles and instructions. Just muddle your way around until you’re overwhelmed, discouraged, and questioning why you ever thought you could actually write.
If you’ve already been cursed with an encouraging network of writers, don’t panic. It may not be too late for you. Stop replying to messages, sharing any of your projects, or answering their questions. If you have to, change your name, buy a cloak with an insanely-large hood, and rent a cave in the mountains for a few years, until everyone forgets about you or gives up looking. And if you’re just starting to make friends, nip that destructive habit in the bud. Scowls, sarcastic retorts, or simply silence will be your best help here.
Don’t Face Your Fears
We all have fears, usually many of them. Some large, some small. And, if you call yourself a writer, some of those fears have to do with writing. Maybe you’re scared you can’t finish a rough draft. Maybe you’re scared your work would never be good enough to publish or let others read. Maybe you’re scared that your writing is actually so bad that people would laugh (when it’s not supposed to be funny) or cry (when it’s not supposed to be sad) at it.
Perfect. Embrace those fears. Just like a community of encouraging, helpful writer friends is one of the most powerful ways to succeed as a writer, obsessing over your every writing fear is a fantastic way to ruin it. Continue to fret over your characters, typos, topics, and formatting. Convince yourself that you can never be strong enough to face your fear of receiving criticism or reviews. It’s all terrifying. Absolutely paralyzing.
And if you ever start to feel even the slightest bit of hope, the tiniest inkling of bravery, be sure to sit down immediately and make a list of all the reasons you should be scared, and why writing – and especially sharing your writing – is a horrible, terrifying idea. Contemplate every possible thing that could go wrong, and don’t let yourself fall asleep at night until you’ve mentally explored each option. Then, just don’t act on it. After all, you’ve been telling yourself you’re too cowardly to even try, right?
Hide Your Writing Until It’s Perfect
You need to be perfect. Everything you do needs to be perfect. Not one word of dialogue can be out of place, no sentence can be structured strangely, and no bit of worldbuilding can be left unexplained. Your writing is not worth sharing unless there’s not a single flaw to be found. It must be spotless.
While some people may try to convince you that perfect is impossible, and that what one person enjoys and may call perfect, another person may have different tastes and dislike, thus, ‘perfection’ is impossible – don’t listen to them. There’s only one idea of perfect that every single human has in their minds, and there’s only one possible way your writing could be good. So until it reaches that standard – until it’s perfect – it’s not worth sharing.
Hide it away where no one can see it. Don’t allow yourself to get excited and share it with even one supportive friend (you were supposed to get away from all those, remember?). As soon as you finish one chapter or round of editing, immediately start on the next one. Replot your first chapters until they are practically a new book, then start the process of rewriting and nitpicking all over again. Even one typo or awkward moment will ruin the book. And it must be perfect.
OR Assume It’s Perfect From the Start
Or maybe you don’t agree with me on that last point. That’s okay, there are many ways to ruin your chances of being a successful writer. Hiding your writing until it’s perfect is just one way. If that’s too stressful for you, consider the alternate option: decide that it’s perfect just as it is. Whatever it looks like, whatever stage it’s at, it’s ready to be shared with the world.
You haven’t quite finished all the chapters yet? Or, you finished them in 32 days four years ago and haven’t looked at them since? You have the nagging feeling that you left plot holes open, story threads unwoven, and characters undeveloped? That’s okay, just decide your story is already perfect and ready to be shared with others right now. Then do it; spread your awesome writing as far as you can as fast as you can.
No matter what anyone may try to warn you about, or how sloppy your pages may look right now, don’t worry about it! If you say, it’s perfect, it’s perfect. And just think of how much faster you can ruin your chances of writing success if you don’t wait to proofread or ‘fix’ anything. The moment you finish typing the words, go ahead and upload it to the biggest websites you can find. Your reputation as a poor writer will spread rapidly. Score!
This is a very common tool of unsuccessful writers. An oldie, but a goodie, shall we say. And that’s because it works. How do you use it? Well, it’s simple. Just don’t do anything. Don’t write. Don’t think about your characters or story. Don’t type words, fill notebooks, or brainstorm ideas. Just keep telling yourself you’ll get to it later. Some day when you feel inspired. Wait for that elusive muse before you do anything.
And even if you do find inspiration, second-guess it. If it seems easy, it’s too easy. You’re probably just excited about a story idea because you got it from some show you watched or song you heard. If you used it to write with, you’d be plagiarizing. And you really don’t want to end up in jail, do you? Better just to wait until you’re a little inspired, but not so inspired that you feel like you’re actually enjoying the writing process.
Pointless social media scrolling is very helpful for this. Go down those research rabbit trails. Reread that book series or watch that movie collection for the umpteenth time. Spend time picking out the cover and title for the book you’ll (maybe) write some day, and let yourself get carried away daydreaming about all the fun you could have once you actually do something. But now is not that time. And in fact, you may never know when that time comes.
Believe me, it’s for the best.
Or, more appropriately, the worst.
Well, what do you think? Did any of these tips stick out to you? What are YOUR favorite tips for making sure your writing journey is unsuccessful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
(….and in case it wasn’t obvious, this is satire. I honestly do want you to succeed in your writing journey, so please don’t take my advice right now, haha. You’ve got this, friends!)
1.You can find more writing-focused tips here.