How to Not Be a Writer

It’s easy! Here’s an overview to help guide you. 

Spend every waking moment thinking of scenarios and stories that you could - and should! - write about. Neglect to write them down, insisting that you’ll remember them all when the time comes to start writing.

Think of your best ideas while you’re in the shower, while you’re drifting off to sleep, while you’re three beers deep at a bar with a raucous group of friends - any time it’s next to impossible to document your thoughts. Not that you would write them down anyway, but tell yourself you would because these are the really good ideas, the ideas you can’t let get away.

Promptly forget all your best ideas. And your worst ideas. And every idea in between.

Try to write anyway. Sit down in front of a blank slate, an empty page, a clean screen, and try to let the words make their way out of your mind and through your fingertips.

Two paragraphs in, decide you hate every word you’ve written and close out of the Word document you’re working on. Do not save changes. Do not save anything.

Watch three episodes of Dexter on Netflix while browsing Facebook, compulsively refreshing Twitter, and poring over articles from Slate, Wired, HelloGiggles, Thought Catalog, the New York Times, and Consider joining Reddit so that you can become a more effective time-waster.

Read and comment on every blog post in your feed reader, marveling over other people’s ability to produce actual content and, in many cases, to have that content run by reputable publications. Compare yourself to every writer you have ever known and some you haven’t, getting lost in a rabbit hole of author bios and following the best ones on Twitter for future inspiration and/or jealousy. Admit that although you may be a better writer than many, you’re lazier than most; for the billionth time, determine that the key to success is prolificacy and put additional pressure on yourself to produce content worth sharing.

Open a new document in Google Drive. Do not title it. That way, when you give up on this document (as you are bound to do), it will be saved forever in the elephant graveyard of your Drive account, aptly titled “Untitled Document” and wholly indiscernible from the three dozen other files with the exact same name.

Write at least two paragraphs with real potential. Believe that things are looking up. You can do it!

Receive a text from your (ex-?)boyfriend, with whom you are still on positive and confusing terms. Promise not to read it until you’ve done more writing but cave after penning three more sentences. Tear up when you see that he’s sent you a photo of your cat, who still lives with him three states away; cross into hysterical territory when he writes, “I miss you,” because you miss him, too, even though you’re the one who initiated this possible breakup.

Take a few deep breaths, drink a glass of water, wash the runny mascara off your face, and convince yourself that this bout of unexpected emotion is exactly the sort of inspiration you need to write something truly beautiful.

Write two more paragraphs of ambiguous, non-specific bullshit. Delete and rewrite along the way, focused on whether this website or that one will ever deem your writing fit for publication. Completely forget what it means to write from the heart and for yourself.

Tire of looking at your own words. Start to hate yourself. Rinse, repeat, rewrite, delete.

Eat a handful of blueberries straight from the carton then root through your desk drawers for old Christmas candy; discover a half-eaten bag of Chex Mix. Finish this episode of Dexter while consuming only the Chex - no pretzels, no gross bagel chips! - and convince yourself that at 1:37 a.m., it’s too late to write anymore. Exhausted by all the self-loathing and lack of accomplishment, close your computer and turn off the lights and crawl into bed and set your iPhone to play a meditation app called “Social Phobia” designed to help you calm your thoughts and stop being so afraid of the world.

Fall asleep thinking of at least half a dozen great writing topics. Promise to tackle them tomorrow.