How To Kill A Writing Career

This post, from Jason Sanford, originally appeared on his site on 1/10/10 and is reprinted here in its entirety with his permission.

This afternoon while slaving away on the novel which will rocket me to the heights of literary superstardom — maybe even to the level of Paris Hilton superstardom — insight struck. I realized I was working way too hard at this writing gig. Instead of trying to succeed through hard work, talent, and dedication, there was a much better way to reach my fictional goals.

I simply needed to thin the writing herd.

Think about it. There are thousands of fiction writers and wanna-be authors in the world. As we all know, when one species overpopulates an ecosystem all creatures are at risk of starvation until the population stabilizes. So why not knock off the competition? This way the survivors — and their fiction — will naturally float to the top of an empty literary world.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions on how to destroy a writing career. Simply retitle these suggestions as positive advice — such as "What every successful writer knows!" — and send them to both budding writers and established pros. Budding writers won’t realize the success you refer to is your own until AFTER their buds have been nipped, a la Barney Fife, while established pros are so cocky they won’t recognize what’s happening until they’re knocking on heaven’s remainder bin.

So do your part, and dump a little weed killer in the garden of literary delights by passing this "advice" to other fiction writers.

How to kill a writing career
Remember: Before sending this to a writer, retitle it in a positive way, such as "10 sure-fire ways to publishing success" or "What publishing insiders don’t want you to know."

  1. Heed the immortal writing advice of Allen Ginsberg: ”First thought, best thought." Revisions and rewriting should be left to those without the talent to be writers in the first place.
     
  2. Proper spelling and grammar are traps to keep authors down. Dare to reach greatness by following your own linguistic path.
     
  3. Only writers lacking vision worship coherent plots. So every time you sit down to write, mutter this simple chant: "James Joyce’s Ulysses is a great novel. James Joyce’s Ulysses is a great novel."
     
  4. Write only what is popular and trendy. After all, if drunk and horny vampire biker chicks are the hot thing this year, imagine how much hotter they’ll be when your book comes out three years from now.
     
  5. Embrace adjectives. If one adjective is descriptive, why not five or six in a row?
     
  6. Waste the readers’ time. After all, if readers want to drink from the fountain of your literary greatness, it’s up to them to pucker up and suck.
     
  7. Write only when the muse moves you. Only bad writers force themselves to write every day. You answer only to your muse. And don’t forget — the muse loves to drink! Lots and lots of drink!
     
  8. Guidelines are for writers afraid to push the boundaries. Not only defy every guideline you encounter, when submitting tell the editors you don’t accept their limited ideas on what fiction they should publish. Be sure to also address submissions to "Dear Editor" to show these little people their proper place in the literary supernova that is you.
     
  9. Continually act neurotic, paranoid, angry, annoyed, psychotic, or better yet, all of those at once. And remember, you can’t be a great writer unless you are addicted to something obscure and weird. (Like wow man, that dried gnat excrement is nature’s only truly righteous high!")
     
  10. Flame wars are your friend. If you don’t post a nasty repartee somewhere on the web at least once a day, how will you succeed as a writer? And be sure to engage in flame wars with other writers, editors, and literary agents. Nothing says you’ve arrived on the literary scene like a flame war!

 

 

 

Jason Sanford co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he runs the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction. He won the 2008 Interzone Readers’ Poll for one of his stories, and has also been published in Year’s Best SF 14, Interzone, Analog, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places. He’s published critical essays and book reviews in places like The New York Review of Science Fiction, The Pedestal Magazine, and The Fix Short Fiction Review.

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