11 Ways to Write Nothing

They say you must write what you know and what I know best is not writing. So keeping these credentials in mind, here are 11 ways to get no writing done for people starting out on their writing adventure:

1. Emulate: Everyone has writing heroes – mine are Orwell, Joyce, Nabokov, Hitchens, and others. But a sure way to get nothing done is to try and emulate their writing. What do I mean? Well, if you write something, don’t go back and read it and hate yourself because it’s not as good as Joyce or Orwell. The fact is, you will never be as good as Joyce or Orwell. The sooner you realize this the better for everyone; especially you, because instead of playing the genius game and losing constantly you can move on to what you’re decent at, like writing about not writing.   

2. Stylize: Similar to the first point – don’t try to write in a certain way. You do not have the skill to pull it off yet. Write content first and ignore style, at least for the first draft. And you don’t have content and have only a style in mind, don’t write till you think up some content. 

3. Edit before finishing – Once you have an idea, or a vague idea of what you want to write, start and finish before reading it and editing. If you keep editing, your brain will go into detail mode and lose the bigger picture. If you finish and have a whole, it’s much easier to go back and edit. 

4. Worry – If you start worrying you will write nothing. Forget what people will think of you or your work and just write. If it’s no good, start a business – at least you know you’re not a writer. If it’s good, congratulations, you achieved something very few people achieve. 

5. Depend on inspiration and creativity – Inspiration and creativity are both highly unpredictable and irregular visitors. Sometimes they arrive early morning and stay the whole day, drinking all your booze and producing some genius level writing. Sometimes they just drink all the booze and do no work. Sometimes, it’s months between visits. And they never warn you of their unscrupulous plans. Depending on those two fuckers will ruin you completely, and probably leave you a drunk. So don’t depend on them. Depend instead on discipline – he (he would be a she if I was a woman) might sound boring and unromantic, but he’s the only one who comes when you need him and doesn’t leave unless you tell him to leave. In the end, discipline is your only true friend and only he will give you freedom (see Jocko Willink). 

6. Talk about your writing – Writing is a messy, strange, confusing, numinous and largely unconscious process and the last thing you want to do is to start talking about it. It’s like making soup – you put everything in, you stir it, and you let it simmer and cook till the final product is ready for consumption. Would you suddenly put a hole in the bottom of the vessel and let things out? I know you’re thinking it’s not a good analogy because speaking doesn’t empty your brain, but in fact when it comes to writing I think it does exactly that. Let your subconscious work with the mess in your head till the exact moment you have to put it down on paper (or screen). Fiddling with this primordial soup will tip the balance between spoken and the unspoken, said and unsaid, and take away some from your final effort. 

7. Sit in front of the screen before you know what you’re going write – The computer screen is like a brightly coloured black hole – it sucks your attention and focus and tears them to pieces. Always decide what you’re going to write before you open a blank page on whatever software you’re using, or you will get distracted, annoyed, depressed or plain lost before you type one word. 

8. Check Facebook – If you’re writing a book, chances are you have low self-esteem, low-confidence, have some form of anxiety or depression and haven’t achieved much for a while. None of this is good if you want to check your feed on Facebook, which shows only how awesome other people are doing. Check once a week, after a dose of artificially induced confidence preferably. 

9. Write only one thing at a time – When you write you get stuck: this is a fact of the universe as sure as the speed of light and the idiocy of Trump. If you’re writing only one thing, you will abandon it and watch YouTube videos and you will become depressed and hate yourself for the rest of the week. Instead, work on multiple pieces, which provide varying degrees of challenge. If you can’t seem to get ahead in the novel, switch to your piece on how VR porn will likely ruin relationships. Switching to something within the domain of writing will distract you just enough without allowing you to lose your focus. 

10. Calm the fuck down – Don’t stress. Stop mid-sentence and take a deep goddamn breath. If you have the ideas and you have the discipline something will emerge. Patience is a great tool to increase the rate and quality of your work.  11. Accept – Accept the kind of writer you are and stop trying to be the next Joyce or Rowling. If you’re good this won’t stop you from becoming better. If you’re bad, it will allow you to accept that maybe writing should be a hobby and not a career. 

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