Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How To Be A Writer « Thought Catalog

How To Be A Writer « Thought Catalog

1) Don’t listen to advice from writers. I realize that me saying this will invalidate this entire column, but I’m cool with that. Writers like to talk about writing because talking about writing is easier than actually sitting down and — y’know — writing something. (Like a novel, or a play, or a poem, or such.) Don’t listen to writers. And are you sure that writers even have your best interests at heart? Most writers that I know are petty, insecure, self-absorbed dicks. And writers don’t like competition. Therefore, take any advice that they give you with a grain of salt.

2) Chill out. Most people are a thousand times more interesting when they’re talking than when they’re writing. Why is this? Because people panic when they start writing. People instantly revert to memories of 10th grade English class, and memories of No. 2 pencils, and lined notebooks. And then they freak out and tense up. Don’t tense up. Just relax. Seriously.

3) Just relax. …Um, seriously. Chill. When are you funniest and most interesting in life? When you’re hanging with your friends, maybe having a few beers, and telling a funny story. So when you write, do that. Just be normal. Act like you’re telling a story to your friends. Write the way that you talk. This will be much more interesting, I promise you.

4) You’re gonna have to write all the time. I wrote for about six hours a day, every day, for 15 years before I could quit my boring job and become an actual paid full-time writer.

Which reminds me of a funny story. In his excellent autobiography, animator Chuck Jones talks about his first day at art school. And on his first day, the “mean” professor said this to the class: “You have 200,000 bad drawings inside of you. The sooner you get rid of them, the better it will be for everyone.” Startled gasp! The class was horrified. And Chuck Jones, genius and creator of Bugs Bunny, etc., was horrified for a second too. Until he realized this: “Wait. I’ve already done at least 300,000 drawings.”

The same thing happened to me on my first day of school. Our professor said, “If you want to be a writer, you have to write for six hours a day. No exceptions.” And I was appalled, until I remembered that I did that already.

You’re gonna have to write all the time in order to get better. No one can make you do this. You’re going to have to make yourself do it.

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