How Not to Be a Writer


I don’t even know what to write here. I am that bad of a writer. What I do know about this daunting task is that the first rule of thumb is to write about what you know. And for me, at this juncture in my opaque life, nothing is more clear than the art of not being a writer.

In fact, scratch the word writer. It gives me too much credit. Besides, I mostly just call myself that because I have a degree in journalism and my mom and dad are writers. So one day they theoretically pointed their black Uncle Sam like fingers at me and declared, “Hey! You’re one too. Get to work!”

I’m starting to believe them though.

One, because frightening quotes about how hard it is to be a writer are illuminating to me; make me feel normal and acknowledged. Like the first time I read Hemingway’s ” There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”, I said to myself in a heavy metal voice, “Yeah. That’s it! “Til you bleeeeed man!”. It’s sayings like that that provide a weird sense of belonging for me; one in which, say, a quote about culinary arts fails to produce.

Primarily, I know I’m a writer because I’ve applied to several jobs since graduating college and have discovered I am weird, awkward and mostly unemployable where professional settings are concerned.

But the trouble arises when I actually need to write. The motivation to crank out words and transfer the ongoing conversations in my head, on to paper just isn’t there, or at least it doesn’t come as often as it should in order to make a career out of this thing.

So. Here I is, spouting advice on the only thing I’m fantastically good at, not being a writer. Aspiring non-writers, listen up. This is great stuff.

Don’t Read

If you came to my house, you would think I was pointing you in the wrong direction because there’s a book in every corner. I have two bookshelves that are filled to capacity, so much so that whenever they have to be lifted to accommodate my seasonal need for Feng Shui, I boastfully say to the lucky movers, “Be careful. Those are my prize possessions”. They think I’m all smart and well-read after that admission, but the truth of the matter is, I’ve only read like four. I’m a book collector. Not a book reader. And if you want to be a sucky writer, then so should you. Let your books catch dust. Go to the library and defy the due date by keeping them as coffee table fixtures. Library fines are a joke. And, puh, you certainly don’t need to read other writer’s work to improve upon your own. It’s all a waste of time. Really.

Take A Week To Write a Simple Post Like This

So many other things are important this day in age. Like at this moment, the crud under my fingernails takes precedence over all else. And writing takes concentration. So learn to prioritize. First thing in the morning, browse the Internet– funny things await you. Next, make yourself a lunch. Your brain needs energy and if you’re anything like me, you want a meal with long preparation times and ingredients that require a grocery run. Go there. And make that shit. (Tiramisu is my personal favorite). After that meal, just like the main character in “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” you’ll probably want a nap. Take it, promising yourself that you will be refreshed and ready to write once you arise. But if by chance, you wake up smack dab in the middle of prime-time TV, then watch your scheduled shows first. Sure they’re being recorded on your DVR but what if there is a semi-permanent power outage? You will have to wait indefinitely to see who moved on in the next round of “So You Think You Can Dance“, besides if you don’t watch your shows, what will you have to write about? When appointment TV is complete at midnight, yawn and ask, “Boy, where did the hours go?” and promise yourself that tomorrow is a new day. You will write then. Or first thing Monday morning. Whichever comes first.

Care Way Too Much About What Others Think of Your Writing

I once had enough balls to write an open letter to a popular rapper and send it to an equally popular hip-hop blog. They posted it. Initially I was excited to see my name on a cyber by-line. I called my Mother and said, “Momma I made it!”. I read through my piece proud that the editor liked my writing enough to display it. Then I read the comments below and realized that he was the only one. That’s when I realized people are mean and if you don’t want your feelings hurt by nameless, faceless drifters that you don’t know, then it’s probably best that you keep your thoughts to yourself. Which I did. For years. Until I was sure that the guy that goes by the username jigolbitties85 was far enough away from my work where he could not repeat those scathing four words, “Bitch. Get a life“.

Have Every Electronic Possible, Open and/or in Reach While Attempting to Write

At this very moment I have six Internet browsers open, I am playing Words with Friends, texting my sister in Chicago about our shared love of pico de gallo and (phone chime) whadda ya know? Someone just liked the Instagram picture of my new shoes. Yes! (Cabbage patch dance ensues). This is how it works non-writers. You finally get the urge and inspiration to pump out some words and then Bam! a Yahoo! news story about the new Watermelon Oreo flavor comes across the screen and that deserves your immediate attention. (Here’s the link. Go look at these cool things now! I’m going to answer my now ringing phone while you read it). BRB.

Everything You Write Must Be Perfect

…and if it’s not, over analyze it until it is, damnit! As a writer, you posses a strange skill; one that allows you to say things, not only superbly better, but five minutes before everyone else. But that’s a lot of pressure and no one understands you better than me, so in the event that your work is not entirely precise and literarily lucid, even after you’ve followed Hemingway’s instructions and bled all over the got-damn typewriter, you have one very simple option. Quit.

And. Well. There you have it. A fool proof algorithm on how never to reach your goals as a professional writer, from someone who by all kismet accounts is tragically destined to be a writer. Which I have promised myself I will get to as soon as I get this (foot to mouth) pesky hangnail off of my big toe.

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