New York Times Bestselling Author

Writing: How To Be A Writer

Posted on Jan 11, 2014 | 4 comments

10. Wonder if you have any talent. Become depressed and discouraged. Wonder why you forego sleep and doing fun things with loved ones so you have time to write. Wonder if you have what it takes.
11. Wish, just for a moment, that you could be happy working nine to five as an accountant and never had literary aspirations.
12. Revisit rejected story yet again and, with sudden clarity, realize what is wrong with it while being pleasantly surprised with some of your well-written sentences. Feel pride that you wrote those lines.
13. Read. Be wildly jealous of published authors. Be even more jealous of the ones who are better writers than you. Despise the ones who aren’t as good but are published anyway. Wonder why there is no justice.
14. Repeat steps one through 13 more times than you care to think about.
15. Have story accepted by a publication no one has ever heard of. Earn no money. Be momentarily thrilled with your accomplishment then decide it’s a shoddy journal that would publish anyone. Want more.
16. Toil.
17. Finish novel. Feel bad about all the trees that were sacrificed to get to The End but good about the fact you actually got there.
18. Begin search for agent. Get three form rejection letters on the same day your boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with you, you lose your job, and your car breaks down. Consider giving up.
19. Decide you are ahead of your time.
20. Keep writing anyway because you can’t not write.
21. Live for those moments when you’re doing the dishes or driving to grocery story and it hits you in a flash what you need to do to fix that pesky section in your novel that wasn’t working. Go to your notebook/computer and have the words pour out of you.
22. Struggle to find the right words. Find them.
23. Discover things about yourself. Be amazed by the writing process. Love how it challenges your intellect and your creativity.
24. Have things in your past that you thought you had forgotten come tumbling out in fictionalized form. Have people you’d had brief, insignificant conversations with years ago suddenly appear as characters in your novel.
25. Notice details about the world that other people miss. Don’t mind adversity since conflict is the key to plot, and you can use your negative experiences in your work.
26. Find beauty in black words on a white page.
27. Reread your story. Decide it is just the kind of story you want to read. Be proud of yourself.
28. Wonder why Joyce Carol Oates has to have a short story in every single issue of every single literary magazine ever published. Can’t she leave room for little guys like you?
29. Hear about authors like Hemingway and John Steinbeck living in poverty. Wonder how the hell you’ll ever make it if they never got rich.
30. Hear about a twenty-four year old getting published with a half a million dollar advance. S/he received a rave review in the New York Times. Briefly consider manslaughter. At least in prison you’d have time to write.
31. Get a phone call from an agent who wants to represent you. Wonder if you are dreaming. Agree to have him/her represent you.
32. Wait.
33. Wait some more.
35. Continue waiting some more.
36. Get a phone call from your agent. A publisher wants to give you money to publish you. Wonder if you accidentally consumed a hallucinogenic mushroom for lunch.
37. Be thrilled.
38. Tell everyone you ever knew, particularly your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend who left you for that tramp.
39. Be terrified. What if it’s not good after all? What if no one buys it? What if you can’t ever write another novel?
40. See your book in book stores. See your name on the spine of a book. Be shocked. Be amazed. Feel surreal.
41. Sign your first book. Be amused that someone actually wants your autograph as if you were some sort of celebrity. Don’t let them know the truth that you are just an average schmoe.
42. Get your first bad review. Wonder where you keep the razor blades.
43. Get positive reviews. Realize that that other reviewer was a complete idiot.
44. Make checking your sales ranking on Amazon your full-time job.
45. Get fan mail. Be thrilled and amazed.
46. Keep writing.

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4 responses to “Writing: How To Be A Writer”

  1. Sarah says:

    YEP! Sometimes I feel like I should be medicated, but then aren’t the crazy ones the creative ones? It’s nice to know everyone feels this way, even Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, too, although I’ve never asked them.

  2. SJ says:

    Hilarious! This nails the feeling…well, for me, all the way up until 31. I’m still looking forward to that one! I especially love #25 – it’s a good reminder for life as a writer and a human. Thanks!

  3. Tom says:

    Good look at the trials and tribulations of the novelist. It ain’t all fortune and interviews on “Fresh Air” or “The Daily Show” I reckon.

  4. Evie says:

    This is funny as well as inspirational.

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