Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Really Bad Writing Advice: How To Be A Writer While Not Writing Your Book

Those of us whose efforts to write an entire novel during the month of November have met with the same success as our efforts to write an entire novel during any other month -- which is to say, um, limited success -- are now grappling with a new challenge to our credibility as writers.  Which is to say, if I am not actually writing, if I am, say turning out a grand total of 6,000 meh words in three weeks, what can I do that will allow me to announce to the world that I'm writing a novel with a straight face (Footnote #1)? 

Apart from writing.

I have culled the best-ever hints from a cyber-world replete with splendid suggestions, and here they are:

1.) Immediately term your failure to produce this novel "writer's block."  This is completely credible and writeresque as long as you're angsty enough about it.  Hence, you cannot spend the time you're not writing zipping around Bloomingdale's with a smile on your face or doing lunch unless you also bang your head on the table and drink a lot during said lunch.  Indeed, you get to spend inordinate amounts of time with friends and family calling yourself a writer's blocked writer as long as you whine a lot.  

2.) Writing exercises.  Just google "writer's block" and "jump start" and you will find enough writing exercises to keep you not writing your novel for years, or possibly a lifetime.  

3.) Writer's conferences.  Consider the cognitive dissonance factor.  You pay the enormous enrollment fee.  You get a name tag.  You gossip about agents and editors and the collapse of publishing as we know it.  You're too busy being a writer to write. 

4.) Research.  This is especially good for YA writers who might actually die if they don't get to Bloomingdale's, assuming they are willing to stalk young adults up and down the escalators, eavesdropping assiduously the whole time they're (Footnote #2) loading up on new sweaters.  Also, who can claim to possess even a passing familiarity with popular culture if she hasn't watched TV for four or five days straight?

5.) Study grammar.  This is tedious and extremely time-consuming, but it could permit you -- should you ever get around to writing -- to produce prose that doesn't require footnotes with Grammatical Hints.

(Footnote #1) Grammatical Hint: The announcement would entail the straight face.  The writer can have any kind of face she wants due to the fact that she's supposedly sitting alone in a room writing so nobody knows what kind of face she has.

(Footnote #2) Other Grammatical Hint: The so-called writer loads up on the sweaters; it doesn't matter what the young adults load up on as long as you're creeping around behind them analyzing their sentence structure.



  1. Maybe a writer who doesn't don the Writers'-block necklace on special occasions has lost the write to right? I mean, the right to write, right?
    Personally I don't believe in this block. Avi says the real thing is actually clinical depression, and not strictly a writerly matter. I just think we are not automatons, so sometimes we are ON and other times OFF.
    That is my fancy excuse for this month.

    1. On and off works for me, but is somehow less convincing during #NaNo when everyone else is *O*N* with steroids. As for clinical depression, if it doesn't come naturally, a couple of hours of writing exercises and you barely have to fake it.
      Love, Ann

  2. Ugh, writing exercises! I have no prob avoiding those things. And lol! on Footnote #2. I've been known to eyeball teenagers while out once or twice...

  3. Maybe the problem is there are just too many writerly things to do instead of writing.