Have you ever noticed how many “How To Be A Writer” guides are floating around the internet? Have you seen all the articles about what being a writer means, detailing tips to fit the bill, sharing the holy guidelines you have to follow to truly be able to classify yourself as a “Writer”?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Most of these guides are well-meaning; some of them are actually helpful. Tips of the trade! Tools of the craft! Help for the struggling me!
True, there is a lot that goes into being a writer, but I think at its core it’s very simple. We can break it into tiers pretty easily.
Tier One: Write. There, you’re now a writer. Woo!
Tier Two: Protect your writing time at all costs… write every day… set word count goals… etc. etc.
Tier Three: Write about writing (so meta, dude)… find writer friends… put your work out there!
Tier Four: Only deign to write with a quill and ink because that’s how they did it in the olden days… shut yourself in a tower to fill rolls of parchment with your words… don’t go into the restricted section of the library… copy Hermione’s homework… master the Patronus before the dementors get you…
Well, fine, maybe that last tier crossed over into Hogwarts territory, but you get the picture: There are a lot of ways to be a writer, and some of them are hard!
You know what isn’t hard? Not being a writer. We all know how to do that (some writers are even better at not being a writer than non-writers), so I thought it’d be fun to make a quick list. And here it is!
Twelve Ways to Not be a Writer:
- Always revise your first chapter before moving on to the second
- Send around your freshly completed very-first rough draft for everyone to read. Actually, you should send that version in query letters, too
- Don’t back up your manuscript. It’ll be fine
- Most books are better if you start with a 50 page prologue. Those details will be important later so just put it all in there at the beginning
- Check social media and email before you write. What if something pressing is in there that you have to deal with first? Instagram is important
- Only write when flashes of brilliance (aka the Muse) strikes. If you write at any other time the words will be shit anyway
- Writing is social! Feel free to bring your laptop into a distraction-rich environment. The best chapters are written while sitting at happy hour with your friends
- If you get stuck just bash your head against the keyboard to see which letters make it into the screen. This one can also be filed under the ‘How to Actually Be a Writer’ list
- My next book idea is actually better than this one so I’m going to move on to it and leave this one half-finished. *4 months later* Actually, maybe I’ll go back and finish that one book, this next one is dumb too
- Did you remember to revise your opening line? It’s the most important part of the book. Take a least a week to perfect it before moving on – you might as well get it right the first time
- Did I leave the oven on? I should go check if I left the oven on. Also my house needs to be deep cleaned asap I’ll be right back
- This book would have been better as a screenplay anyway
To be serious for a second, though, there are a lot of ways not to be a writer, and we’re all (read: I am) guilty of them pretty often, which is fine. As I wrote a couple of posts ago, most of what we think are writing distractions are actually important parts of our lives – don’t feel guilty about making time to do other things every now and again.
And while there are many, many, many ways not to be a writer, there is really only one way to be a writer: Write. So if you write, and you write regularly, you’re a writer no matter what medium you choose. Congratulations! Wear that badge with pride! We’re all extroverted and super popular and party really hard and make barrels of cash (oh wait, sorry, I got confused again and meant to put that under my ‘Signs You Aren’t a Writer’ list).
Okay, so I know that the above list isn’t even close to all-encompassing. What’d I miss? What’s your favorite way not to be a writer?