The Ultimate Guide to Being a Writer

The Ultimate Guide to Being a Writer

Here are the 50 actual steps that make you a writer.

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash
  1. Experience The Spark: the moment you discover that your soul belongs to writing. Also called the whim, by skeptics.
  2. Buy a fancy pen and a fancy notebook.
  3. Buy another notebook. Two is better than one, for the aesthetic.
  4. Make it three. Magic number. What goes around comes around. Make the universe think you’ll be productive.
  5. Wear a plaid orange and cerulean shirt and salmon Top Siders. Remember: eccentricity makes the writer.
  6. Sit at a café with your notebooks, laptop, and a spicy avocado and sweet potato latte. E c c e n t r i c i t y.
  7. Fan a number of books (On Writing, The Elements of Style, Writing a Book — for Dummies) on the table. Optional: actually read them.
  8. Tap the pen on your chin till you find THE perfect rhythm.
  9. Don’t use the pen for anything else.
  10. Set the latte aside, it’s disgusting.
  11. Gaze into the void while thinking deeply and meaningfully. “Do centipede really have a hundred legs?”
  12. Find a brilliant idea. This is it!
  13. Tap a few words on your keyboard.
  14. Grimace at the terrible idea you just had.
  15. Delete the few words you’d tapped on your keyboard.
  16. Glare at the other people in the café. Their mingling and scone-binging is the reason you’re not being productive.
  17. Scroll down your Instagram feed. You’re researching for character depth.
  18. Open a 34th tab on your browser.
  19. Write ten words.
  20. Open a 35th tab.
  21. Edit what you’ve written.
  22. Reward yourself for the work you’ve done so far.
  23. Read somebody else’s writing.
  24. Get desperate because you’ll never write this good.
  25. Call your long-estranged third removed cousin who just posted about a luxury trip in Greece on his Instagram and whom you never call.
  26. Make sure to let them know how hard you’re working.
  27. End the call abruptly, emphasizing that you’ve got loads to do.
  28. Eureka! Tap.
  29. Yikes! Delete.
  30. Bang your head on the table.
  31. Watch a YouTube video of Justin Bieber explaining why knitting should become an Olympic sport (that’s research for character depth).
  32. Shake hands with the man who just sat in front of you, he may be a literary agent.
  33. Glare at him when you understand that he’s just one more mingler-binger.
  34. Glance at the time.
  35. Get outraged by how fast time flies when one has so much to do.
  36. Say as much out loud.
  37. Glare at the mingler-binger when he responds. That was a rhetorical remark for dramatic effect, sir.
  38. Open a 36th tab.
  39. Swear when your the browser crashes.
  40. Gather your stuff to leave: throw the books and notebooks and pen in your backpack, stuff a couple of napkins in your pockets.
  41. Be hit by a fantastic idea.
  42. Punch the space bar of your keyboard until it’s clear your laptop won’t wake up anytime in this century.
  43. Frantically look for the pen in the underworld of your backpack.
  44. Find it after having retrieved a handful of doubtfully sticky Mars wraps, a half-eaten (green?) tuna sandwich, two doves, and a magic lamp from it.
  45. Ignore the mingler-binger’s staring.
  46. Bang your head on the table because the idea has flown away.
  47. Throw the handful of doubtfully sticky Mars wraps, the half-eaten (green?) tuna sandwich, the two doves, and the magic lamp back inside your bag.
  48. Make a dramatic exit, possibly involving being caught in a holdup but heroically getting out of it by punching the thief in the nose without breaking your thumb.
  49. Get patched up because you did get your thumb broken when you punched the thief in the nose.
  50. Repeat tomorrow.

The Ultimate Guide to Being a Writer was originally published in The Haven on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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