6 Ways to FAIL as a Writer!

Got your attention, didn't I? There's something to be said for a catchy headline.

Okay, since you came here looking for tips on how to fail as a writer, I'll oblige. Since there are thousands of blogs and articles outlining what it takes to be successful, I thought I'd change it up and highlight things that are guaranteed to make you fail as a writer. 


Tips for Achieving the Gold Medal in Failure:


1. Don't write. Yep, that's a perfect way to become a failed writer. If there are no words on the page, what will there be for people to read? So if you haven't written a word, but would like to some day, then it's time to get on it. You will never be able to consider yourself as a legitimate writer until you've actually put words down. A plot and story and interesting characters would help, too, but maybe that's getting ahead of ourselves. If you don't want to be a failed writer, then you need to write. Set a routine. Keep the butt in your chair. Don't get up until you've put something down. Anything. Which brings me to my next point . . .

2. Don't edit. If you want to succeed in the writer-failure department, make sure to put your writing out into the world without editing. When people read your error-ridden, meandering, nonsensical book that screams, "I Yam a Book Wit No Editar," then you will get an A+ in failure. Guaranteed. The best way around this is to get people who are good with the English language to read your book and offer suggestions, whether a great proofreading friend or a paid editor. One tip:  the more nit-picky and anal-retentive the person, the better. You want an editor who loves obsessing over every word in the English language until it's perfect. You know the types: the ones who self-righteously point out grammar errors in their restaurant menus, or who correct their significant other's error-ridden love letters in red ink and return them in disgust (okay, I confess, I actually did that with my high school boyfriend. Wouldn't you if your boyfriend of a year continually spelled your name wrong? But I digress . . .). 

3. Engage every nasty troll on the Internet. Sadly, there will be people in the world that actually hate your writing. Yes, it's true, just as it's true that there are people in the world who actually hate puppy licks, gourmet sautéed mushrooms, and Monday Night Football (okay, that's me—not the best example). But you get the idea. For every thing you love and think is great, there will be someone in the world who thinks it sucks. Even hot fudge sundaes. Even beach sunsets. Even your book. It's okay. They're just idiots. Ignore them and move on.

4. Put out a book with amateur writing, crude sex scenes, grammatical errors, graphic language, plot holes, and a rehashed story line. Oops, wrong example. Fifty Shades of Grey is actually a success. A BIG success. Bad example.  ;) But you get the point.

5. Work on the same book for 10 years until it's polished like a rare gem. If you really want to fail, add another 10 or 20 years just to make sure it's extra perfect. Bonus points if you die before it's published.

6. Over-edit. This is the opposite of item #2. For those authors who are vying for the gold or silver medal in failing, then be sure to listen to every single word that your editor says, and change every single word in your manuscript to please him or her. In that anxious race toward perfection that so many of us have, we often believe that someone else has all the answers, especially if that person wears a fancy title or you've paid him/her major bucks (usually not mutually exclusive). What is the result of not trusting your own voice as the last word on your own writing? A book that reads like this: "Dick and Jane went to the store. Dick bought a candy bar. Jane took it from him. Dick let her. Jane was happy."  Yep, believe it or not, that is the opening paragraph of Tolstoy's last (unseen) book, which was over-edited by a zealous book doctor who didn't agree with Tolstoy's wordiness. Okay, I'm kidding. But only about Tolstoy. Not about everything else. Go ahead and hire an editor, but when you're reading over his/her pages of red notes and scribbles throughout your beloved manuscript, remember that the only corrections that are set in stone are the ones that the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White both agree with. The rest—characters, plot lines, word choices, descriptions, etc.—are up for grabs. If a change doesn't feel right to you, don't do it. Stay true to your own voice. Too many books are over-edited and all read the same. It's like all the plastic surgery among movie stars these days. It's hard to tell them apart, and that's not a good thing. The Real Housewives of OC have definitely been over-edited facewise. Another thing:  by getting caught in the editing loop, you will never feel your book is good enough or ready to be published. Never. (See item # 5.)  One final thought:  editors, while usually well qualified for what they do, are still just one person's opinion. And to rephrase a popular quote, opinions are like anuses. Everyone has one. Listen to yours first and foremost (okay, not your anus, but you get the point).

Hope this helps you to succeed in failing as a writer, if that is your goal. If you follow my list exactly, you'll be less competition for the rest of us.  :)

photo credit: Chris Daniel via photopin cc

photo credit: Teseum via photopin cc