Please Kill Me,
Hello all you sons of Mars, daughters of Venus, and queers of Uranus (no offense intended, I just wanted to include everyone. #sendingpositivevibes.) So I figured it was high-time to finally knock out one of these Top Ten lists. The average ones tend to bore me a bit. They usually contain circumstantial and/or unfounded information, passing itself off as genuine sound advice. In actuality it’s little more than a bar at 2 am, everyone just happens to have 10 two cents to put in.
Needless to say it’s a perfect platform for me to spew my circumstantial vomit all over the place. Let’s face it, your kind of curious, so without further adieu:
So You Wanna Be a Writer: 10 To-Do’s from a Sociopath
1.) Kill Yourself – No, seriously (just kidding). For those of you unfamiliar with the works of E.B. White and William Strunk, the two were literary academics who focused on the craft, primarily the dissection of method. Much of their work provided impressively vast (an applicable, despite being written decades ago) advice on what to expect from a career in writing, namely “Kill yourself, or if you know someone who wants to be a professional writer, kill them now; because this is the happiest they’ll ever be.”
Hopefully failing that…..
2.) Know Your Basics – Okay, so I’m just going to gloss over the obvious here. YOU SHOULD KNOW GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE, PUNCTUATION, GODDAMN PROPER SPELLING, ETC. Now I know that I may be kind of a hypocrite but for the purposes of effect, I fucking nailed it. So remember, (I mean this with all sincerity) have your fundamentals mastered and mentally prepare yourself because.
3.) Prepare to Cut Ties – The life of a writer is a considerably solitary one, especially when actively working on a project. This is not because “all writers are depressed” or “they’re too drunk (or high) to socialize”, I mean… okay that’s true sometimes (like 65% of the time), but it’s not entirely their fault. The hours of sitting still and pounding on the keyboard, researching, editing, editing, and editing some more, tend to take up tons of time. If you’re serious about being a writer and actually making it somewhere doing so, intend on making some major social adjustments. *Sidenote (Kind of like how athletes only hang out with athletes, D&D players, with D&D players, Bill Cosby and Jared from Subway #prison, you end up sticking with your own.) Even if you do happen upon a social group, most nights will be you and the computer (and potentially a gun yielding a single bullet).
4.) Be Original – Okay once again, I’m a major hypocrite but fuck it, I feel like you should all know this crap. Anything you write will, without a doubt have been done before. (Unless you invent your own language and even so James Cameron and Tolkien beat you to that) so complete originality is out of the question. However the beauty of story tropes is that they never get old. Guy saves girl, girl overcomes, big guy vs. little guy, and on, and on. These plots have become the building blocks for any good story. Why? Because they fucking work, that’s why. The secret is to be original in your delivery of the story. How you convey the information to the reader is what’s key. Sure A and Z are generally laid out for you, but the letters in between are your playground. Don’t be afraid to toy with that either, people don’t know what they want until they’ve got it.
5.) Isolate – A major issue I’ve found with artists (that is even more consistent with writers), is their desperate search for approval. Granted once in a while you get the “asshole” that doesn’t give a damn what you think (I mean that’s why he/she is posting for everyone to see right?) That’s fine, but tends to present a problem if you share too soon. Showing off an unfinished work to an outsider, is like having sex for the first time. Sure it’s awesome to you, but your partner knows, your not quite there yet. Keep your writing to yourself, that is until you’ve built the confidence that allows you to gracefully brush off the opinions. Remember your writing is for YOU to share, this isn’t a collaboration, it’s rhetoric. As the great Stephen King would say “write with the door closed.”
6.) Do Phone a Friend Though – (Hypocrisy 3: The Christening) Look, there are only a certain amount of things that you can do on your own. Once you’ve gotten to that sweet spot (where you can’t be swayed into perverting your message) call a few trusted friends ( I suggest other writers and avid readers), to help you edit the work in question. As the parent author there will be some things that you won’t want to part with, thus you need this team of euthenics, to kill the literary fetus. Trust me you’ll be glad you did. (Vivid enough imagery for you?)
7.) Walk – This is where your social life may get a bit of an up tick. Take some time to leave the house, get some sun, and talk to things with a pulse. Experience something new. Every interaction you have is a potential story. I’ve actually grown accustomed to keeping a small notebook in my pocket whenever I’m out and about. This helps to hold on to the fleeting thoughts that are able to momentarily peak my interest. (Sometimes they even evolve into repetitive Top 10 Lists).
8.) Read – There is no Yin without a Yang, there is no Salt without a Pepa, there is no Kim without a sex tape, and there is no good Writer who isn’t a GREAT reader. Perhaps the most imperative thing you should be doing is reading (thank you Stephen King, I’ll take it from here). In his book On Writing Mr. King discusses the importance of reading to help expand not only your vocabulary and literary styles, but your intellectual pallet as well. This is proven true ( Google it yourself doofus, I’m busy). Every writer reads, and therefore they more deeply understand to do’s and dont’s of authorship. This may require you to power through some grammatical sludge, but you’ll be happy you caught some of the follies before you made them.
9.) Actually Finish- There is no greater dream killer than evidence of your past failures and mishaps. Even if you don’t make the front page of the Times, or number one on Kindle, it is important to your psyche that you finish what you started (Granted, not everything you write will be gold. Despite that, always save what you’ve written for salvageable parts.) There are no bad words or ideas, only bad writing and writers. Keep what you’ve collected, but finish SOMETHING! A constant reminder that you can do it, is often times the boost you need to overcome a rut or work past a failure (Oh there will be failures) and do it again. Do not be dismayed at the negative, keep the trophy of your finished product and continue onward. (Remember we’re playing Pro-Ball here, get ready for bruises.)
10.) Rinse, Wash, Repeat- Feeling a little tired? No, no that’s fine I get it. * leaves briefly, returns with a bucket of cold water* Splash “You get your pansy ass up right this instant and get the hell back in that chair”. *Ahem. So yea, you thought it was done, no. The beauty of being a writer is that our job is never done, with every magnum opus, there are three more we have planned. Many of you have felt that euphoric feeling of a project to be. Chances are if you’ve made it from #1-9, you’ve got a pretty solid idea of what you must do, and are reading this to kill time. Good. Welcome. The rest of you, take a second to consider what your signing up for because its #1-10 EVERY SINGLE TIME. And it’s also a decadently unstable life, top to bottom (aka FUCKIN AWESOME!).
Alright, so that was my first top 10, and it honestly got a little more personal than I had intended it to get. Do with the information what you will. Got more to add? Disagree with the list? Wanna hook up one night, and never see me again? Feel free to comment below.
Until Top 10’s are no longer such an Internet draw,