Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Five Surefire Ways to Fail at Writing a Novel

Friends often ask me what it takes to successfully write a novel. That's a tough question. I decided it's easier to tell you how to  NOT  be successful. Here are my tips on how to fail as an author.

Do not turn on your computer.
This also means you should not pick up any kind of writing instrument or tablet of paper. Picking up a pen or turning on your computer is the first step to making sure you get words down on paper. If you want to bomb as an author, you must never do this.

If you accidently turn on your computer, you can make sure you will not write your novel by engaging in social media or online games. I have found online Sudoku helpful in wasting time on the computer and put off actual writing.

Do not write every day.
Talk about writing. Tell people how you want to write. You can even go so far as to talk about your novel. But do not write.

Do not set writing goals such as word counts or a set time of day to write.

Be aware, if you write every day you will become a better writer. This is a pitfall.

If you write every day you are likely to publish something.  Soon you will have to start talking about working with editors and publishers. The best way to avoid publishing is to make sure you do not write every day.

Do not take time to learn your craft. 
This is important. If you want to fail as a writer, you must not go to writing conferences, join critique groups, read books about writing, or read the works of other authors you admire.

Do not take the advice of your editor. Do not revise your work. Consider every word you write to be golden and untouchable.

Do not write about people and places with which you are familiar.
That’s the easy way out. That’s what all those successful authors do. You know the type. John Grisham was a lawyer so he writes lawyer books. Where’s the challenge in that? No. If you want your novel to flop, you must write about people and places and experiences you have never had.

Let your imagination run free. Don’t make your characters believable. Don’t set them up with habits and flaws. Do not do it. Readers of your work might identify with the characters and blow your attempt at failure.

Do not have a clue how the book will develop or end. 
Do not create a story map with markers along the way to describe what happens. Do not think about where your characters are going. That will only move your story along at an interesting pace.

You should be as surprised as everyone else as to the direction the story takes. That will show your creative and spontaneous side.

Another benefit of not knowing how it ends is that, with a little luck, it will never end and you can continue to go to dinner parties and talk about writing, but never do it.

The good news? To fail as a writer does not take hard work. As a matter of fact, it takes no work at all.

Work? That’s what successful writers do.

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