25 Reasons You Should Quit Writing
This post, by Chuck Wendig, originally appeared on his terribleminds site on 5/22/12.
Time for my annual, “Nope, you shouldn’t be writing, quit now, run away, go on, shoo” post. This time, in the form of the “25 things” lists that all you crazy cats and kittens seem to love so much.
1. It’s Really Hard
OMG YOU GUYS. Writing? It’s hard. It’s like, you have to sit there? And you have to make stuff up? For a living? And there’s all this… typing involved. You know what’s easier? Being an adult Baby Huey. Diaper-swaddled. Able to just pee where you sit. Your food liquified into a nutrient slurry and fed to you via a tube pushed through the grate of your giant human hamster cage. Okay, I kid, I kid. Writing actually is work. Intellectually and emotionally. You actually have to sit, day in and day out, and trudge through the mire of your own word count. Quit now. Save yourself from pulling a mental hammy.
[Editor’s note: strong language after the jump]
2. You Probably Don’t Have Time
Writing takes time you do not possess. You’ve got that day job and those kids and, hey, let’s not forget your 37th replay of the entire Mass Effect series. Your time is all buttoned up in a starchy little shirt. Sure, Stephen King carved out his first novel one handwritten line at a time in between moments at his factory job, but if I recall, that didn’t pay off for him. (He should’ve just stayed working at that factory. Uh, hello, have you ever heard of medical benefits, Stevie? A pension? Lunch breaks? Duh.) Besides, eventually you’re just going to die anyway. Time won’t matter and it’s not like they’re gonna let you read your own books in hell. Better to quit now. Free up some time for drinking and masturbation. Er, I mean, “parenting.”
3. You May Have To Write A Whole Lot
Recently it came out that for writers to survive, they might have to buckle down and write more. Well, that’s just a cockamamie doo-doo bomb is what it is. That means writers might need to write — *checks some math, fiddles with an abacus, doodles a bunch of dongs in the margin* — more than 250 words a day?! Whoa. Whoa. Slow your roll, slave driver! I mean, it’s not like writing is fun. It’s an endless Sisyphean dick-punch is what it is. (See, Sisyphus carried an old CRT television up a dusty knoll, and when he got to the top, a faun punched him in the dick and knocked him back down the hill. That’s Greek history, son.) Write more? Eeeesh. Better to complain about it, instead. Or, better still: quit.
4. I Bet You’re Not That Good
I’ve seen your work. C’mon. C’mon. This is just between us, now. It’s not that good, is it? Lots of spelling errors. Commas breeding like ringworm in the petri dish that is a hobo’s crotch. All the structure of an upended bucket of donkey vomit. The last time an agent looked at your work, she sent it back wrapped around a hand grenade. So, you’ll do what so many other mediocre, untested, unwilling-to-work-to-improve writers have done: you self-publish, joining the throngs of the well-below-average with your ill-kerned Microsoft Paint cover and your 50,000 words of medical waste. Why do that to the world? Have mercy!
5. Hell, Maybe You’re Too Good
Alternately, you might be too talented. Your works are literary masterpieces, as if Raymond Carver, James Joyce and Don DeLillo contributed their authorial seed and poured it on the earth where it grew the tree that would one day be slaughtered to provide the paper for your magnum opus. And meanwhile, someone goes and writes porny Twilight fan-fiction and gets a billion-dollar book deal thanks to the tepid BDSM fantasies of housewives everywhere. You’re just too good for this. As you seem unwilling to write the S&M fan-fic version of The Hunger Games for a seven-figure-deal… well. This way to the great egress!
6. Ugh, Learning, Ptoo, Ptoo
“All you have to do to be a writer is read and write,” they said. Which seems true of anything, of course — “All you have to do to be a sculptor is look at sculptures and sculpt some stuff,” or, “All you have to do to be a nuclear physicist is read signs at a nuclear power plant and do a shitload of nuclear physics.” But then you went and read books and blogs and Playboy magazine articles and the backs of countless cereal boxes and then you tried writing and oh snap it turns out you still have more to learn. And learning is yucky. Ew, gross. Dirty, dirty learning. Not fun. Takes effort. Bleah.
7. Finish Him, Fatality
“I’m writing a novel,” you say. And they ask you, “Oh, is this the same one you were writing last year? And the year before that? And the year before that?” And you say, “No, those were different ones. I decided that–” And at this point you make up some excuse about publishing trends or writer’s block or The Muse, but it all adds up to the same thing: you’re not very good at finishing what you start. Your life is littered with the dessicated corpses of countless incomplete manuscripts, characters whose lives are woefully cut short by your +7 Axe of Apathy. You’re so good at not finishing, embrace this skill and quit.
8. Rejection Will Make You A Sad Koala
You will be buried in the heaps and mounds of rejection. And it’s never nice, never fun. Sometimes you’ll get the cold and dispassionate form rejection slips with a list of checkboxes. Sometimes you’ll get the really mean, really personal ones that stab for your heart with a sharpened toothbrush shiv (I once got a rejection slip early in my career from author and then-editor Thomas Monteleone that pretty much… savaged me rectally). Rejection will ruin your day. And, if you do get published, bad reviews will haunt you the same way. Did you know that every time I get a one-star review for Blackbirds, my eczema flairs up? I get all scaly and itchy and then I’m forced to fight Spider-Man as my supervillain persona, “The Rash-o-man.” (My comic book is told from multiple perspectives!) Anyway. Point is, rejections and reviews hurt. Don’t thrust your chin out so it can get punched. Hide in your attic and eat Cheetos, instead.
9. You Don’t Want It Bad Enough
You have to want this writing thing really bad. Sure, the saying goes that “everybody has a novel in them,” but thank fuck most of those people are too lazy to surgically extract said novel. I’ll just leave this one to the wisdom of Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
10. Writing Really Cuts Into Your Internet Addiction
The Internet is like a… delightful hole you fall into, a Wonderland of porn and memes and tweets and porn and hate and cats and porn. I’m always wishing I had more time to just drunkenly fumble around the Internet, feeling its greasy curves and exploring its hidden flesh-knolls, but all this damn writing keeps getting in the way. “Oh, god, if I didn’t have this stupid book to write I’d be tweeting scathing witticisms and scouring the web for free ‘people-dressed-up-as-trees-and-flowers-and-pollinating-one-another’ porn.” (If people who dress up as animals and do it are called “furries,” what are people who dress up like plants? “Leafies?” “Greenos?”) Anyway. Quit now. Free up your time.