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August 11, 2010

Y. S. Lee: How Not To Be A Writer

Posted by Marisa Emralino


Penning novels is far from easy, and every author is bound to make a few mistakes along the way. With her second book THE BODY AT THE TOWER now in stores this week, Y. S. Lee draws on her own personal experiences to share ten handy tips on how --- or rather, now not --- to be a writer. 

1. Embrace denial. Fear helps, too.

For example, tell yourself on a regular basis that you don’t have what it takes. Compare yourself to the writers you most admire. Acknowledge, with large dollops of self-loathing, that you’re not as good as they are. Be certain that everybody will laugh at you if you admit that you want to write.

2. Believe everything you read online.

For example, you will read that writing workshops are essential to your development as a writer and a wonderful way to meet other aspiring writers. You’ll also read that they’re an utter waste of time and money, taught only by unsuccessful would-be-writers. If you give equal credence to both positions, you’ll be so confused you’ll never find out for yourself.

3. Don’t have a writing schedule or target.

This way, years can elapse before you have a first draft --- possibly decades, if you’re gifted.

4. Don’t read anything in the genre you’d like to write.

Thus all your ideas will be original and pure.

5. Check email/Facebook/Twitter every 10 minutes.

It’s true: social networks can ruin your life! Don’t forget to click on every link and savor each joke your dad forwards. This tip is best used in combination with #3.

6. Research as you go. Or, just keep changing your mind.
Disorganization is the key to failure. So is indecision. If you master both, it’s a win-win!

7. Write what’s hot RIGHT NOW.

Because there aren’t enough sparkly vampires in the world now, let alone in 3 years’ time (optimistic timeline for completion of manuscript + snaring agent + selling book + publishing process).

8. Ignore suggestions from your smart, trusted early readers, because that would mean changing a lot of stuff around.

Because you’ve already put in quite a lot of work, you know? Also, every word you’ve written is gold.

9. Cultivate a new, all-absorbing hobby that competes with writing.

The holy grail of oh-my-god-where-did-the-last-2-years-go is a newborn infant, but not everyone’s ready to start at such an advanced level. You may work up to it with triathlon, or training to be a pastry chef, or similar.

10. Grow sick of your magnum opus when it’s 75% complete. Shelve it and start something else.

If you can’t manage anything else on this list, this one will do the trick. Promise.

-- Y. S. Lee

Click here to read Y.S. Lee's previous post on the Blog, "What Kind of Writer Are You?"