The Professor: 10 Ways to Fail at Being a Writer (And Why You Should Do the Opposite) Part 1

 

Are you tired of all those inspirational listicles giving 10 reasons you should do this and 5 habits where you should do that? Well, I wanted to know what the other side of things looked like. Mainly, because I’ve been sitting on the other side of the fence for so long. Only recently have I decided to embrace the inspirational listicles and put my best foot forward as a writer.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ve not learned a great deal living on the other side of the fence. So, I’m going to share that extensive list of knowledge with you today. Then I’m going to try and point out why you should avoid doing it like the plague.

  1. Don’t Write:

In the number one spot we have what is probably the most obvious bad idea, if you consider yourself a writer. Writing is the number one most important thing you can do as a writer. Why? It says it in the name. Writer. I’m a writer. Well, what do you do? I write. That’s all, that’s it, the simplest answer in all the world. I write, because I must write. I write because it is second nature for me to sit down at a typewriter and bleed. I write because it is an essential ingredient in the recipe that is me. I write because it is a requirement for my brain to have any normal sort of function.

So, if you want to fail at being a writer, don’t write. Call yourself a writer all you want, but don’t do it. Find excuses to justify the time spent away from your desk. Tell the genius that’s dying to get out that you’re not in the mood to write today. Tell the muse she’s going to have to bring her ideas back some other day, because you’re too busy doing God only knows what. But, most of all, tell yourself you’ll get that book written, even if you never put your pen to paper. You’ll get that book “written” eventually.

  1. Don’t Network:

Networking is an absolutely terrible idea if you want to fail at being a writer. Why? Because a writer needs to get their name out into the world to get their work out into the world. Networking means that you would be interacting with like-minded people who might not only like your work, but they might like you as a person. They might even want to be friends. And, God it would just be terrible to have friends that already have established blogs where you might be able to do guest posts. Or if you were to have friends that would be willing to help with your writing process. You might find beta readers, people who will review your work, and most important of all you might find people you just generally like to be around.

So, to make a short list of the best ways to avoid networking. Don’t look for blogs discussing things similar in nature to your own work. Don’t join writers’ groups on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Don’t go to workshops. Don’t go to conferences. Don’t join online writing courses. And, above all, don’t look around for people who might be going through the same struggle you are, trying to find an agent, get published, make millions of dollars. Yep, the best way to fail is to do it all on your own, living under a rock. The safest most secure computer is one that’s never touched the internet.

  1. Neglect Your Blog

It’s all the rage to have a blog these days. If you can type two words together and know how to access the internet, then you should have a blog. So, even as a writer that wants to fail, you should totally go and start your own blog. Why? It’s not because you got this great idea to build an online platform and fan base by putting your work out there and sharing it with those like-minded individuals we were talking about in the networking section.

You should start a blog because it’s a great way to expound on your soul crushing depression. Why? Blog dashboards come with a way to watch the stats on your blog. You know, how many visits you get a day, how many of those are unique views, which ones are repeat readers, where your audience is coming from. It’s called analytics, and it’s a great way to ruin your day. I just wrote this awesome amazing blog post discussing the nature of Luke Skywalker’s relationship with his father, and about four people have read it. Well, maybe they read it. One was your mom. The other was your mother in law. The two others might have been people you could count as fans who don’t feel obligated to read and like everything you write. Although the average length of time spent checking that page was 3 seconds, gosh they must be awfully fast readers.

Another wonderful aspect to this level of failure is the point where you quit. You didn’t quit because it was a well thought out decision and an avenue to something better. Nope, you let the blog die a slow death. That first month you were posting every day. Then it was every other day. Then it was once a week. Then it was once every two weeks. And, now you can’t actually remember the last time you looked at your blog.

How’s that black hole of despair feel now? (I know when I hit that point I was pretty much sucked right into the depths of the pit, but enough about me.)

  1. Don’t Build an Online Platform

Building a platform is a bit of a combination of the last two reasons, and a whole lot of the bit about getting your work seen. Building a platform means taking this life seriously, grabbing it by the balls so to speak, and putting yourself and your work out into the world. That blog you started, it would have been a good place to start building your platform, but you probably would have needed to do a little bit of the networking—the part where you get your name out in the world—and a lot of the writing—that silly amount of time you would spend creating content for said blog—to get things to the point where you have people who, not only show up on your email list, but also frequently read your work and interact with you as a person. You might even have a fan or two if you did all that.

But. Nope. Building a platform is much too dangerous of an idea. I want to fail here, not accidentally succeed or something.

  1. Don’t Join a Critique Group

Why shouldn’t you join a critique group? Well, we are talking about ways to fail at being a writer, and “supposedly” joining a critique group is a way to make yourself a better writer. It’s this sort of situation where other people (ew, networking) look at your “perfect” stories and bits of novels and give you critical opinions of how to make your “perfect” writing better. But, then, everything that comes from your pen is perfect isn’t it? Well, if you don’t think so then I don’t think you know where this failing thing is going. Everything ever written is perfect the moment it hits a sheet of paper. It’s not like revising and writing multiple drafts of a story using critical information gleaned from a number of trusted peers is going to do anything to help make your writing stronger.

–And, on side note as the author, I’ve just realized I’m extremely long winded and really wordy. So, to prevent this post from getting to long I’ve decided to split it into two parts. Keep your eyes peeled for part two, that is if you want to be a failure. Check back for part 2 next Wednesday on another does of the  Professor.

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