Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are a Writer



The inspiration for this list is thinking back on all the mistakes I made while trying to become a writer. Not that I made all of them, but maybe most. I hope you enjoy.

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are a Writer

10 If you are a writer, do not kill a child or a pet in your story. If you do, at best the fallout will blow over in two years or so. At worst, you will be cavorting with some strange characters in your new witness protection plan. (Don’t get cute with a pen name either. They will find you)

9  If you are a writer, do not show friends and family portions of your work in process. If you do, at best you’ll pick up some unwanted advice on plot direction. At worst, your family will now wonder how in the world you ever got the experience to write that sex scene. (Just how do you explain that one Buford?)

8 If you are a writer, do not think you can take a vacation. If you do, at best your characters will haunt your every moment until you get back to the manuscript. At worst, you’ll suddenly let your insecure inner self convince you to quit and become a McDonald’s employee. (At least the money will be better huh Clyde?)

7 If you are a writer, do not tell people at a cocktail party what you do. If you do, at best they’ll smile and walk away. At worst, you will have to listen to a potential best-selling synopsis that takes over an hour to relate by someone who is thinking of writing a book. (Like it is the easiest thing to do, Ferd)

6 If you are a writer, do not think that life ends when the manuscript is done. If you do, at best your story will take on epic proportions. At worst, you may get the heaviest book award from the New Apple Book  Awards group. (You didn’t know that was a category? It was established primarily for you. No, your manuscript cannot be returned since the flatbed truck is not available.)

5 If you are a writer, do not let your characters take control of the story. If you do, at best you’ll have a pack of amateurs running the show. At worst, your story will take on the appearance of a three-ring circus (You hadn’t intended to write about  entertainment did you, Ernest?)

4 If you are a writer, do not be in a hurry to get published. If you are, at best you may have a plot hole that no one will notice. At worst, the grammar, plot, character, and continuity issues might gain you all the one-star reviews you can handle. (Quite a shock huh?)

3 If you are a writer, do not think you need to do little else. If you do, at best those few books sold will be gravy. At worst, your status as the great undiscovered but brilliant novelist will remain undisturbed. (Best to write your own eulogy as well.)

2 If you are a writer, do not plan to have your retirement income be solely based on your royalties. If you do, at best you can cut expenses enough to survive. At worst, you are allergic to the kind of soup at the Salvation Army kitchen. (All your pals are really impressed that you are an author. Right Bunkie?)

1 If you are a writer, do not argue with your reviewers. If you do, at best the reviews will not improve. At worst, you may pick on the single reviewer who is classically trained in the martial arts and knows where you live. (Is that Tiny the WWF champ tearing your front door off the hinges?)


  1. What a good post! All is true, dear John!

    Best regards,

    1. Thank you, Maria. I appreciate your visit and comment. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome!

    1. Thank you for the reblog.

  2. Sound advice for everyone, and not just writers I think!

    1. I think we could apply this advice to a number of areas. Thank you, Anita. 🙂

      1. so welcome, John…

  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    Hilarious, as always….and who can’t relate 🙂 !

    1. Who indeed. Thanks, Gwen. 🙂

  4. LOL, loved #9. I would add one more “Don’t” John. If you hear the words “I want to do a collaboration with you!” be ready to either run or smack somebody. Unless they can give you a definition of “collaboration” that includes them actually doing more work than telling you a vague idea of what they want the story to be about while you magically do all the work of writing, plus reading their mind (if you can find it).

    But there is also a good list that consists of at least one. You can always threaten people that they’ll be “in the book.” 😈 😀

    1. It sounds like you speak from experience. I always think of collaborators in the context of occupation by a foreign army. Not sure why i just know they are not the kind of folks I want around me. Thanks, Teagan. Mega Monday to you. 🙂

      1. Haha! Good analogy, John.

      2. Thanks. :-D. I have a person who calls me with story ideas.I try to be polite and for the life of me I can’t remember the ideas after I hang up. I think I have PCSIS. (Post Collaborator Story Idea Syndrome

    1. Thank you, Adam for the reblog. 🙂

  5. Great advice, but I’ll admit to disagreeing with #10. Never liked that certain groups were off-limits. It means those characters are immortal and you get responses about how you don’t have the guts to kill them. Guess the smartest move is to not have children and pets in the story to begin with though.

    1. To quote W.C. Fields, “Any man who’d kick a dog or a child can’t be all bad,” could apply to writers as well. Thanks, Charles.

      1. That’s a cringe-worthy quote. Though I guess kicking isn’t as bad as killing.

  6. This is why I’ll keep my day job. Great list, John!

    1. Good point. Someday though you will be famous. 🙂

  7. I wouldn’t call this an encouraging list, John. Perhaps that correspondence course in motivational writing wasn’t worth what you paid…oh, you’re serious. I think number 5 will keep me from writing, or at least ever finishing a fictional piece. Great list.

    1. Apparently there’s a lot of #5 going around… One woman told me “I’m sorry I took your characters’ names, but my character told me to. So I had to.” I suggested a straight jacket…

      1. Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, Teagan. I just hit the floor on that one. 😀

    2. Thanks, Dan. I asked for my money back on that course and my letter had so many typos they refused citing the fact that obviously I need the course. 😀 (never serious)

  8. Hilarious post, John. I’m glad my husband and I get Social Security and are living in India because I would probably be allergic to the soup at the Salvation Army. I wondered where Tiny was going to fit in. I see he’s in good form. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. I try to fit him in so I won’t disappoint you. 😀

  9. Great stuff, John – I thought you were writing about me!

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, John. 😀

  10. Going for a lie-down – my tummy aches from laughing 🙂

    1. Have some Madera, my dear. 😀

  11. Boy, and to think we volunteer for this gig. Great post, John. Happy Monday to you.

    1. Almost like volunteering to help the magician. 🙂

  12. This was great – my youngest son always had suggestions for #9. Have to admit – he thinks outside the box sometimes.

    1. If it works keep doing it. Didn’t work for me. My wife thought I was deranged on one scene. 😀

  13. Wonderful, and of course I can so relate. And number 7? Always happens and drives me nuts, LOL!

    1. Yeah, I pretty much just say “retired.” Thanks Mae Clair.

  14. Great list, John. I suspect most of us have violated most of this list at some point, sad to say. That job of asking, “Would you like fries with that?” is sounding better and better, huh?!!

    1. Thanks, Debbie. I’m trying to avoid the Micky D’s solution.

  15. Ha ha. Hilarious but on the money. I’ll make my own soup thanks, with stick and stones and old cat bones if that’s all I have around. 😀 😀

  16. Done a few, but happier to be in good company. 🙂

    1. Yes. I know how you feel.

      1. Kinda fun being part of a group that would rather pursue what they love and go down with the ship so to speak, if anything.

  17. Great list, John. I suspect most of us have at some point committed most of these … if we’re being honest. Glad to hear I’m not the only one!! (By the way, I think my comments might be going into your Spam folder — sorry!)

    1. You were so right. I found four.

      1. Yikes!! Glad you found them — I’d hate for you to think I wasn’t dropping by (or that I had nothing to say, ha!)

      2. I’ve known you long enough to know you do not lack for something to say. Avoiding me is another issue entirely. 😀

      3. Never … to both!! You’ve got me pegged, John. 😉

  18. Ah yes, #7!! 🙂

    1. The killer one. Thanks, Jan.

  19. I stick with retired registered nurse for the most part.I find that the best way to be interesting at cocktail parties is to spend all of your time asking other people questions about themselves. People love to talk about themselves…and they like you for being interested in them.

    1. I think that is the secret of social interaction. Thanks, Susan.

  20. Oh no! I’m taking a short vacation tomorrow. Does that mean that horrible monster under the bed is going to follow me to my hotel room? 😱 I hope they’ve vacuumed up under there. 😀 And I’ve already killed a pet cat in one of the stories 😱
    I may just start adding vodka to my cornflakes now, John. Thanks for the advice.

    1. Answers Hugh. Yes. No they have not vacuumed. I would add vodka to everything. You are welcome. 😀

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