Ten Top Tips for Avoiding Writing Success

22 May

So, you’ve got the writing bug and you’re in search of a cure. Just what can you do to avoid putting pen to paper and writing that magnus opus that infests your mental spaces? Don’t worry – here are ten top tips to help you avoid getting anything written!

  1. Don’t put pen to paper! It’s obvious, I know, but many don’t-wannabe-writers make the mistake of actually writing. If you want to avoid writing, do anything but pick up a pen (or, these days, laptop) and actually write. Surf the net, go to the pub, watch TV, read a book – if nothing else presents itself, do whatever it is that you’re paid to do!
  2. Seek perfection! You will rarely get anything right first time, or even for the tenth time, so refusing to progress with your piece until you’ve got that opening sentence just write is the perfect way to prevent completion if you really cannot resist picking up that pen.
  3. Write everything in order – and skip nothing! Sometimes you know exactly how you want your novel to end, or you have the perfect scene for somewhere about the middle. Whatever you do, resist the urge to write these before you reach them chronologically. That way, you will remain stuck in the meandering plotlessness of chapter two rather than becoming inspired by the brilliant ideas your have for chapter seven.
  4. Redraft as you go! This is a variation on suggestion two for those who are not-quite perfectionists. Keep returning to what you’ve already written rather than ploughing on with something new.
  5. Change nothing! If you are lucky enough to discover that your plot makes no sense, that your characters are acting out-of-character or that you have painted yourself into a corner, do not allow yourself to go back and correct the errors. What you have written is sacrosanct and the deeper the hole you dig for your story as you attempt to hold it all together, the better!
  6. Don’t waste time getting to know your characters! Your characters are utterly unimportant to the story you are writing and will do whatever you want them to do regardless, so why waste time trying to understand what makes them tick? Write them arbitraily and watch your story fall apart.
  7. Don’t bother with research and planning! Make everything up as you go in order to maximise the chances that your story will become unworkable.
  8. Obsess over research and planning! If point seven doesn’t suit you, go so mad with your research and planning that you never actually have time to write your story. For best results, spend your time researching and planning aspects of the story that are irrelevant to whatever you are actually writing, allowing you to simultaneously create an unplanned and unrealistic mess with whatever free time you have left over.
  9. Lose your writing! If you just cannot overcome the urge to write and your attempts to create rubbish come to nothing, the best thing you can do is to lose whatever you have created. Leave your notebook on the bus, accidentally shred your printouts and never, ever press save more than once every twenty-four hours (and, do not defrag your hard drive, so that nothing can be recovered when your computer dies). Hopefully, all that hard work will go to waste.
  10. If all else fails, show your work to an out-and-out critic! Never show your work to someone who might like it or who will offer genuine feedback – that will only encourage you! No, show your work to someone you know hates the genre you are working in or really hates your guts due to some slight ten years ago. They will pour scorn upon you efforts and berate you for wasting their time with rubbish, utterly destroying your confidence and will to write.

If those don’t help, I’m afraid you’re probably stuck with being a writer….

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