Saturday, September 05, 2015

Foot Shot Ten

Ten Ways Writers Sabotage Themselves and Their Work
(with possible solution suggestions)

1. Death by Critique: Your first chapter must be thoroughly critiqued by your best writer friend, your crit group, your mom and her friends, and anyone else you can think of who speaks English and isn't dyslexic; this so you can keep improving the same chapter over and over until you get sick of it and start writing the first chapter of your next story idea; lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of your life.

Solution: finish writing the story before you show it to anyone, even Mom.

2. Excuses, Excuses: You have more than ten valid reasons as to why you're not writing that you can recite on demand.

Solution: Oh, sweetie, we all do (I have at least twenty. Really good ones, too.) So you've got two options: 1) shut up, sit your ass down, and write, or 2) stop calling yourself a writer.

3. Heart Bookworms: You have been working on one vitally, important-to-you story that is all you can think about, may be your greatest accomplishment, and will take at least another year or two to finish.

Solution: Sadly there is no cure for Book of Your Heart disease, but to prevent your obsession from eating your brain, you can devote one day a week to writing something else -- anything else -- purely for fun.

4. Lit Churra, Sure: You are crafting a fiction experience that already you know very few people other than your Lit professor and that weird girl in the third row of your Advanced Eng Lit 3 class who never plucks her eyebrows can even begin to comprehend.

Solution: Write for your own pleasure, not profit. You'll be much happier. Trust me on this.

5. Me, Myself and My Ex: Every story you write is revenge for your break-up or divorce, cleverly disguised as fiction that features a protagonist who looks exactly like you, and with whom everyone in the book wants to have sex. Everyone.

Solution: The disguise? Not that clever. Separate yourself from the post-divorce vanity gangbangs, and write a story about non-human creatures, like dragons. And don't let anyone have sex with the dragons, okay?

6. Only By Committee Writing: A more virulent version of Death by Critique, which renders you incapable of making a story decision without first consulting your writer friends, your blog visitors, your online crit group, your Facebook friends, etc.

Solution: Disbanding committee writing is tough, but one way you can start is by unplugging from and staying off the internet while you're writing.

7. Perfect Muse Alignment: You can write only when your muse, whom you are convinced is the reincarnated essence/second coming/parallel universe projection of some long dead writer (usually Austen, Kafka, or Lovecraft), inspires you to write, which means you write for about fifteen minutes a month between crystal energy workshops, chakra conferences and past life readings.

Solution: Write a book about your muse. Seriously. Bet s/he'll show up more often.

8. Plotty Pants: You alternate between thinking of yourself as a plotter or a pantser (or both) which prevents you from developing a routine, working out your writing process or getting anything finished.

Solution: Pick one, and be that writer for a month. Then switch and write the other way for a month. Whichever one produces the best work, be that writer.

9. Workshopathetic: You are happy with your work until you attend the monthly writing workshop given by [insert writer organization], during which you realize all you've produced is badly-written crap that must be edited to death according to workshop presenter's opinions.

Solution: You are too easily influenced by the opinions of others who don't know you and have nothing to do with your writing. Stop going to the damn workshops and get on with it.

10. Zone Deprived: You only want to write when you are "in the zone" but you can't figure out how to get there, or how to stay there once you are.

Solution: Pretend you're in the zone. Nine times out of ten, working like you are will help you finish the story. We won't tell anyone you were faking.


  1. LOL on the first nine, but I discovered a few months ago that the solution to 10 really works. I'm getting a *lot* more work done now. And I like what I write more than I did in the 'zone' days.

  2. These are so true it hurts.

  3. I desperately wish someone had told me about #3 seven years ago before I spent 5 years writing, re-writing, re-writing, etc., the damned thing.

    Also: #9, really, the damned workshops need to be more constructive, imo.

  4. Love it! I've had em all at varying times.

  5. Here's another one I'm guilty of: analysis paralysis. I spend more time writing my thoughts about the story than writing actual scenes. Takes me forever to finish a first draft.

  6. Number 5's solution made me laugh out loud! It's so perfect. Number 2 is probably closest to me, but I don't have lots of excuses. Just one. And it's not an excuse. I'm just a user of it. :( I'm going to try number 8's solution though. I've always thought of myself as a pantser, but I do have an idea where the story is going so that's not entirely pantsing, is it? Anyway, I'll try both and see what comes of it.

  7. Shame on you! I spit tea all over my keyboard at "no sex with dragons" and couldn't stop laughing at "Plotty Pants."

  8. Pretend you're in the zone - love it!

  9. I'm in the zone! Fab post. Thanks! :)

  10. This is all exactly right, IMHO (which is worth spit). All the seminars and webinars and how-tos and "experts" everywhere ... bleh, meh, nah, pfft. Love this post so hard I married it and now I am having its babies and I hate babies. I will put them all up for adoption, I guess. Anyway, I bet you just sat down and wrote this and it flowed right outta ya without you feeling you should check with anyone or pay an over-priced "editor" or anyone else. They don't know jack. We're all experts. I'm an expert on everything.

  11. Plotty Pants! Been there, been stuck there. Love it!