So You (Still) Wanna Be A Writer: 10 (More) To-Do’s From a Sociopath

Dear World

Please Kill Me,

Welcome, my tender flock of would be veal -still fighting against the zeitgeist. So you’re back for round two, or as I have tentatively nicknamed it –You didn’t get the hint the first time. I must say that I am proud you haven’t jumped face first into the proverbial concrete, but we all know why you’re reading. You need a foot in the ass from Sir-Tips- A- Lot. Grab yourself a drink and get comfortable. (We’re gonna be here for a while).

Before we jump into things, we’ll start with the idea. If you’ve got one GREAT. This may help see you through. If you don’t (HAHAHAHAHA) #justkidding. But seriously, go do some drugs and come back with one, otherwise you’re basically trying to write in cursive -before you know the alphabet. Now that’s out the way, let’s begin –

Development: So you’ve got your idea (Or you don’t and are reading anyway, #bastards). You’re in a phase commonly known as development. Whether it’s: flaming monkeys who shit gold on noblemen, proud midgets- who take on the tyranny of the top shelf, or Kardashians finally meeting their day of reckoning. Whatever it is you have it. Now your job is to hone in on what specifically you want this idea to become. What are you trying to share, teach, discuss? What gives this idea meaning? Why is it important? Most importantly, where is the story? These are all things you need to consider before moving forward. A nice way to test the stability of your idea is by beta writing a page or two (500-1000) words. If you can’t do that, chances are -you’ve got a dud. If you can, read it over, and expand. Dig until you find your message.

Research: Admittedly this is a necessary evil. The hard truth is that, unless you’re creating literally everything from scratch (at which point no one but you ((and possibly your cult)) will understand it) you’re likely deviating from a topic whose tropes and ideas have been beaten to a pulp by professionals and amateurs alike. Now I am NOT by any means saying to adhere to what’s known. But it is always a good idea to be aware of what’s out there before you depart from sanity. Why trip where others have tripped before? Conversely, why not see where others have flown, and aim to fly higher, better, and more precise. Every piece of writing done is a chance to improve. Remember ignorance isn’t an excuse. So put on your big kid pampers. (Honestly, look into it. All that sitting can make you incontinent).

Dialogue: The next few are interchangeable in order, but all necessary steps -apply as you desire (#alloveryourface). Dialogue (for the traditional story) is the life blood of your book. It’s the one chance you get to actually convey to the reader who the character is. How they operate. And (obviously) moves the story along with a hop and a skip. (As oppose to reading…. ehhh .. The Bible, Quran, Torah, Dictionary. You get my point.) It’s nothing to be taken lightly. My suggestion is -if dialogue is not your strength, at least strive to make it not your weakness. A good exercise for this would be to read screenplays. Yea, Yea, I know – maybe not your thing. But I stand by it. Google -Academy Award Best Screenplay- pick a flick, search for it (most from last year and earlier are available) and just give them a read. learn the structure. Study the pacing. (And…….For……The….Lov’ ….Of ….GAWD….DON’TTTT!!!!…..Write… iiiTTTTT ……Like!… this.) – Writing dialogue that way is the Bat-Signal for trolls, bad reviews, and of course, the inevitable stroke caused by your bleeding ego. Not to mention it tips off that you really didn’t try and/or care. So why should your audience?

Plot: Swinging back to the beginning (before man was jizzed onto a marble -via holy ejaculate. #inhisnamewepray.) I may have mentioned this before, but fuck it. It’s worth repeating. Your plot should be coherent! Don’t get me wrong. If you want to toy with the structure of the story, jump back and forth through time, withhold explanations, etc. That’s fine, (Awesome-lama-lakem). However, by the end of the god-damn story, I should know (or at least have an idea) of what the fuck just happened. Incohesiveness is not innovation. It’s laziness. Don’t get up in arms, we’re all guilty of a plot-hole or two – just make sure your progression is earned. Remember you’re telling a story, not cultivating a mysterious persona. (If you wanna do that buy a trench coat, go into the same Starbuck’s every day, and order a single croissant. While winking at the cashier whisper “Tomorrow.”) There, now you have a creepy, ass-backward, mysterious persona.

Payoff: This is your holy grail. The make or break of your story. You’ve dragged the reader through thick and thin, (hopefully) gotten them emotionally invested, and now they see that there are only a few pages left. It’s wrap up time. It’s game night. Third inspirational coach phrase. What have you been building toward? If you’re like most people you’ve already had this money-shot locked and loaded. There’s not much I can advise here, (and I wouldn’t because this is likely the only part of your story that has been fully-formed since it’s inception). What I can say, is that execution is everything. So be patient, and deliver it in the best way you can. (Or don’t and hate yourself forever. I don’t really care -I’ve got vodka.)

Space: You’ve done it! It’s over! HAZAH! Well not really. you’ve still got a ton of editing to do. Although (and most people won’t tell you this.) You’ve finished the first draft of your novel, and that makes you pretty FUCKING BADASS! Go put on a cape and fight crime. Okay, maybe not. But be proud of yourself. Soak it in. And then shut your laptop and do something else. An important part of the creative process is knowing when you’re in too deep. The next round of crap to do -is to edit with EXTREME prejudice (once again, I’ve said it before, but it’s owed repeating). The best way to do that is with fresh eyes (Your’s are almost certainly beet red, with black rings around it). Take a few days to recoup. (This is also probably the best time to apologize to your friends and family for being a basket case for the last few weeks, months, years, whatever. Don’t worry, they’ll forgive you once they see what you’ve created. BADASS MOFO! Remember?)

Printer: Once you’ve allowed the steaming burnt out puddle -that used to be your brain- to return to partially functional (it’s like war man, you’re never the same.) You should think about investing in a printer. This is, of course, my personal opinion (but then again isn’t all of it?) But before returning to the chair and staring at that screen (for something other than porn), it may good to go over your manuscript in a different format, and location. The temptation to hop right into editing on the computer can be overwhelming. However rushing the process, can keep us blind to some blatant issues. Print out your manuscript and go somewhere – that you don’t associate with writing- and read through it with a pen. It’s a calmer, more insightful way to begin the editing. Besides, soon enough you’ll be back in-

Hell: We all experience the hell of the edit differently. As much as I enjoy playing Lucifer, at this junction, it seems counter productive, so I’ll simply highlight the stages of it. Hopefully being aware will help you to cope.

#1 Edit – You’ll dread every second leading up to actually being back here. About 5 pages in, after some major reconstruction. You will no longer trust your own judgment.

#2 Group Edit – Because you don’t trust your judgment, you will reach out for help from people you trust, who will point out flaws in every place that you felt confident. You’ll take their advice (But likely, won’t go to them for help anymore.)

#3 Self-Loathing – You’ll question everything you ever did, and why you ever chose to write this thing in the first place. You’ll stop editing for a few days while you collect yourself. Suddenly an internet article (like this one) will reignite your motivation, and you’ll return.

#4   Acceptance – You discover how strong you can actually be, are now immune to any unconstructive criticism. You have been effectively reborn. Congratulations, you are WRITER!

#5   Denial –  You’ll finish editing your first draft, and be completely unsatisfied. At which point you will edit: again, and again, and again. Never feeling that it’s good enough (Your mind will be very insecure. That’s a good sign. It means you put your soul into it.) Know when to stop. There is such a thing as editing to imperfection.

Finally,

Promotion: When all is said and done, the goal is to get the damn thing out there. Once again there are many different ways to do this. Depending on your financial situation, your social circle, and I’m sure plenty of other variables – your reach is very unpredictable. My suggestion is, you work on making it less of a gamble. You can do this by increasing your social presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress ((obviously)) etc.). Hand out free copies. Have friends review it. Go to writer’s conventions. There are literally hundreds of things that you can do to close the gap between failure and success. The one fact is -you have to be willing to put in the work. Realistically, you didn’t come this far not to.

Alright chick-a-dees, we did it. I hope this helped and if it didn’t, at least we got to spend some alone time together (you sexy beast you). Feel free to comment below, if you think I forgot anything, want to curse me out, or just want to say hey. Despite what you’ve just read, I’m decently amiable. Do hurry up though, this vodka is looking awfully tasty.

*stares at bottle too long*

Ahem, anyway. As always be good, and #LiveWrite,

-Antwan Crump.

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