Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are a Writer

 

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

 

This post was published on November 21, 2016. Still good advice if you are a writer.

* * *

 

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

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 thinking of writing a book. (Like it is the easiest thing to do, Ferd)

6 If you are a writer, do not think your life will end 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 unavailable.)

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?)

86 comments

  1. All good advice. #8 is why I always bring a notebook along. That seems to keep them at bay.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That will work for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good advice. I will remember it should I ever manage to write the novel that manifested itself in my head.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. From head to hands is what is needed. Thanks, Rabirius.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Teeheehe! Great advice, John 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Harmony.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My only point of disagreement is number five: I find that my characters are so much better at it than I am, so giving them their head probably results in a better story (except when they take it into their heads to directly challenge me, of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see the revolution forming up now. Put all the sharp stuff under lock and key.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sharp stuff? I usually try to be perfectly blunt 🤓

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just the same I would hide the hardware.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Safe in the cloud, John. And if there’s one thing we’re not short of on these islands, it’s clouds ☁️ ⛅️ 🌧 😁

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Seems about right. Early retirement does not seem to be happening based upon my royalties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I had the same situation. Age finally dictated the move not wealth.

      Like

  6. I think #10 should be a requirement for all writers. Furry friends and kids will never be harmed in my books. If I had to rely on my royalties for retirement, I’d probably curl into a fetal position in a corner somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would have to give up food and water. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Uh oh. Does someone age 13 still count as a child?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teen? Not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure teens are even people.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great advice. Maybe that’s why my dream of writing a children’s book remains a dream.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe someday, Lauren. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it, Bonnie. 😁

      Like

      1. I’m a reviewer but no martial arts experience lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You can still kick though. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  9. All are sound advice, John. Adherence to these will still not ensure a writer’s physical and mental health, but these are a heck of a start towards at least keeping the impact of periodic writing agony to a minimum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Or raise the level of agony. Who knows. Thanks, Bruce.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Good advice, John. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gwen M. Plano · · Reply

    Too funny…and too close to the truth. 😄 Have a great day, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You as well, Gwen.

      Like

  12. Great advice. My favorite is not to be in a hurry to publish. Yes yes yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that has all kinds of problems connected with it.

      Like

  13. Oooh, TIny’s back — I love him!! Great advice, John. I probably need to print this one out and keep it near my computer, just in case I ever decide to write another book, ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea, Debbie.😁 You’ll be writing another.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you’re right. If Monkey has any say in it, I won’t — he’d rather me serve as entertainment chairman around here, ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can understand. A few more years until he’s fully content.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah, yes, time for ideas, story structure, and characters to simmer! Thanks for the encouragement, John.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. So funny, John. I could relate to all of these!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. I think we all can. Thanks, Diana.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. D.L. Finn, Author · · Reply

    Very good advice, John 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise. 😊

      Like

  16. I remember this list and yes, it is still applicable, especially #2! 🙂 Good one, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jan

      Liked by 1 person

  17. A great list, John! #7 made me chuckle. I’ve had this happen a few times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have too. I had one guy tell me I should write his autobiography. He got the hint when gin came flying out of my nose while trying to stifle a belly laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my word, that’s fantastic!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. “If you are a writer, do not kill a child or a pet in your story.” Screw the kid! You better not kill a dog. You ever notice how you can watch a movie where 1,009 human beings are killed (all of ’em men) and not care, but if a dog is harmed, you walk out of the theater feeling really bad?

    Been off-planet for a few weeks. Saved all your Top Ten Lists. Will get to them as soon as I decompress, or sober up … whatever comes first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been wondering about you. Figured you had a project going on. Yeah don’t get sober. Not a good state to be in these days. Glad you are back.

      Like

      1. How intuitive of you. A project, yes. But not my own. The last time I disappeared on you, I was writing “Mahoney.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And what a terrific story that was. 😁

        Like

  19. This is one of those evergreen lists, John. Never goes out of fashion 🙂
    Hands down #7 and #9 are why I don’t (i.e., no longer) talk to family, friends, or strangers about my writing. Not unless they are writers as well 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. It is always a rue awakening to discuss with family and then they look at you like you have two heads. Thanks, Marie.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I think I’m OK, here, John. Well, maybe with the exception of number 5, at least in a few places. I hope you have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. petespringerauthor · · Reply

    It took me a while to figure this out, but I will no longer send my manuscript to family members and friends. That’s led to many disappointments in terms of people not getting back to me in a reasonable time. That leaves a writer in an awkward position because none of us want to become pests, but we want to keep the process moving forward. I’ve realized it’s not fair to put them in that position either

    Like

  22. LOL! This was great, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it, Jill. 😁

      Like

  23. Great list, John. #7 in particular.

    Like

  24. Speaking as the wife of a newly retired husband, I can attest to #2 being pretty much on target! I’m practicing on learning to love all kinds of soup, and crossing my fingers that allergies won’t be involved!

    Great list, John!!! I’ll be smiling all day! 😁😊😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well at least there is soup. Best have hubby try it first. I like that sweater with the hole in it too. You get that at Bloomies?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. 😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Funny stuff and still relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Thomas

      Like

  26. I am (used to be) guilty of #9. I laughed my head off at #10… no one would really do that? Thanks, John. You know how much I enjoy your Top Ten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do and thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. […] Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are a Writer […]

    Like

    1. Thanks for sharing my post, Madi.

      Like

  28. 😂😂😂 All is true, dear John. I wonder how little the writer’s world changes…if it ever does.🍺🍺🍺🦐🦐🦐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it does, Maria. 🥂 🍰

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Ummm…. excuse me, sir? Did YOU not break rule number 10? Just saying 😉

    Like

    1. Well……yes but she lives on in spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Uh huh… nice loophole. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  30. I think writers would do well to have a rehearsed and ready response for “And I am the Queen of England” or equivalent depending on the location, which they are likely to get when they say “I am a writer.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea. What comes to mind is “Funny you don’t smell like the Queen of England.”

      Like

  31. I have broken most of those rules including the ‘don’t kill a pet one’ and lived to tell the tale. I do observe the ‘don’t argue with reviewers’ one though. Even I am not a big enough rule breaker to go there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that is a one way slide to disaster. Thanks for the comment.My maternal Grandparents were Scots. Beautiful country.

      Liked by 1 person

Put your favorite fiction or non-fiction in writing. I would love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: