6 Steps To Becoming An Unsuccessful Writer

I was originally going to write about the problems of "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" and other YA fiction—specifically, the plot hinging on situations that could very easily be resolved if the characters would actually talk to each other.

My thought process went something along the lines of: "Quality of art is so important and these novels and shows and movies should actually be good and well thought out instead of predictable" to "People should be able to watch or read whatever they want, even if it's cheesy" to "Am I just gonna complain about poorly written stuff, or am I going to produce what I consider high-quality art?"

I'll actually probably do both, with a lot of complaining now until I actually get to working on a project or two I have in mind, because, unfortunately, even with all this free time, I still haven't been writing much lately.

That's when I realized that the interwebs could benefit from my terrible writing habits.

1. Only write when you're inspired.

Routines? Scheduled writing time? Idk her. Keep all the good writing only for those moments when you're brimming with passion. If you're not struck with inspiration, why write?

2. Let your mental illness win.

Depression carries with it a debilitating lack of motivation and decreased enjoyment of interests and hobbies, and perfectionism is a handicap generously provided by anxiety disorders. Err on the side of over-coddling yourself. AKA, don't even try to write because you know you either won't want to or you'll pick it apart. What's the point? Maybe it's just time to take an indefinite break from writing.

(In all seriousness, mental illness is a very real struggle, so I get it. I've just personally found that I can let my depression keep me from even trying to enjoy my old interests. Take care of yourself, but don't be afraid to try. Part of self-care is getting yourself back on the road to health and stability; it's not an excuse to avoid everything forever.)

3. Daydream about writing rather than actually writing.

Come up with witty dialogue and heartbreaking scenes, playing them over and over in your mind, only to eventually forget literally all of it. Never write anything down, even if it's a bit of a mess without character names, setting, or plot decided. Everyone knows you can only write if you have everything figured out.

4. Spend most of your time pre-writing.

I'm talking character aesthetic boards, I'm talking getting hung up on names, I'm talking Google Docs on Google Docs devoted entirely to detailing character backstories and motivations and plot points. Get so caught up in the hype of planning the story, never mind the fact that the excitement and inspiration grow the more you actually write.

5. Give up when your first draft isn't exactly what you envisioned.

"I've read this scene eighteen times in the past three hours and hate it even more with each read-through. The dialogue is stilted and not as good as I thought it was when I was writing, and that interiority was more cringey than endearing. The only solution is to obsess over it, nitpick, and eventually throw in the towel."

If you find yourself thinking something along those lines, great news! You can give up. Throw it away, delete it, and never look at it again, even if extended time away from it gives you a fresh perspective.

6. Ask for feedback, but then view anything anyone says that isn't in line with what you want to hear as "irrelevant."

They don't understand the world you've created. They know nothing; you're the expert here. Who cares if they think your characters are underdeveloped? Or that everything could be resolved much earlier and easier if your characters would simply communicate and let each other finish sentences during emotional conversations like normal human beings?

Instead of trying to make everyone happy and applying every bit of constructive criticism, swing to the exact opposite extreme and reject literally everything.

I hope you do approximately none of these, and that you've discovered some of your own bad writing habits to break. (I personally felt severely called out while writing this.)

You've got this, friend. Just write.

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