How to Fail at Being a Writer

fail_at_being_a_writerWould you like to know how to fail at being a writer? Follow these steps exactly and failure may be yours!

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.

Leave a comment

D Holcomb

10 years ago

You got me from the first. Doubt. Oh yes, I'm quite familiar with that demon. And judgment. There's another bugger I could do without. And yep, the blog. And let's not forget Twitter! What a colossal time-sucker. And yet I can't stop logging on.

Resistance, I see you!

Love the post.

If I may share: here's my take on writing the Great American Novel:

Marlowe, Sr.

10 years ago

You forgot to mention 'check your previous book's ratings at Goodreads and Amazon every day', which I do lol

Nikki Barnabee/@GargoylePhan

10 years ago

OMG. If I had a webcam, I'd swear you've been watching me through it. ;-} Great post! You nailed it.

art di cetrulli

10 years ago

-you might also try never, read a serious work of fiction; do not have a liking for fiction, do not disagree with too many copious socially expected mores, of language, of thought. Get into trendy things, share a lot about that, be trendy; mistake hard work with creativity, mistake creativity for the desires of another. Look outward to be motivated, give up your views or, just don't have any. For the most part just, think very very socially and that will render a pure product of your need to express some hidden point of view, some recondite view of the world.

Jimmy Locklear

10 years ago

Well done, Kelsye!


10 years ago

Hey, I recognize me in this post! Thank goodness for that last line. Here's hoping we can all wake up focusing more on our potential for success than our doubt!


10 years ago

Nope. I can't relate to this AT ALL. (Pfft, I wish!)


10 years ago

I have a hard time relating, because when I started with focused writing sessions (Just writing) I managed getting rid of distractions well enough that I don't feel the need to check social media constantly...

Another thing is the Spreadsheet that tells me that I have over 84 days written 150 585 words... Yeah, that helps. "The world can wait for two hours, also every 500 words, there's a piece of chocolate"


10 years ago

Love this. I'd have to put watching Vandaveon and Mike (Key & Peele) videos on my list.


9 years ago

You did a superb job at articulating the thoughts of all writers. A touchstone piece. The takeaway made me smile. Every writer has doubt. Those that succeed do so in spite of it.


9 years ago

I agree with most of what you've written, expect that editing part. Some of my best stories have been re-worked from an abandoned piece of writing.