First, begin with doubt. Doubt your talent, your brain, your skills, your spelling. Doubt the quality of your ideas and the worth of your stories. Doubt that you even like writing. Doubt your sincerity, doubt your ability.
Once you have a thick, sticky baseline of doubt spread wide over your mind, you are ready to begin failing at being a writer.
Next, sit at your computer and check your social media sites. Click through to Jezebel and Daily Beast. Sign an online petition about health care access for sick kids. Feel a little outrage. Think, I should write about this.
Open your preferred writing software. Sigh deeply. Go refill your coffee cup. Return to your desk. Recheck all your social media sites for new posts and interactions.
Open a file of old writing. Even through you have edited this piece at least ten times, edit it again. Tell yourself editing is writing. Sigh deeply.
Check your social media sites for new posts and interactions. Spend a minimum of thirty minutes reading celebrity gossip. Shudder with self-disgust.
Go pet the dog. Take a walk around the block to clear your mind. Notice how it’s almost noon already and panic that you are wasting your chance to get writing done. Doubt that you even like writing. Doubt your sincerity, doubt your ability.
Sit in front of the computer. Decide to blog instead of working on your novel. Scan through your post ideas and reject all those you deem frivolous, likely not to appeal to a wide audience, too personal, too impersonal, too overdone, too hard to match with a catchy title. Draft a list of the top ten websites where authors can post pictures of their cats. Sigh deeply. Go refill your coffee cup.
Sit in front of the computer. Tell yourself, butt in chair. Read inspirational quotes about how writing is really all hard work. Nod in agreement. Recheck all your social media sites for new posts and interactions.
Jump when the phone rings. Realize you were so absorbed in that online article about trends in book cover designs from the seventies that you missed your daughter’s pick-up time. Run out of the house, late, no real work accomplished.
Congratulations! If you made it this far, you have succeeded at failing to be a writer.
However, take this warning, this failure is not permanent. Tomorrow you wake up again. You must not give into temptation or inspiration to open that file with your novel. Failure requires commitment. You can not become complacent. Stay vigilant. Once again, you’ll wake up tomorrow with every chance of success.