A Step-By-Step Guide to Not Writing a Novel

Coffee Flip

  1. Get an idea for a novel, something that challenges the status quo, too radical for your parents to read. Something like Cormac McCarthy’s work. Drink three cappuccinos and write two pages of exposition, then call it a day.
  2. Make concise, attainable writing goals the next day, but you should wake up late because the caffeine kept you from sleep. Create a reward system: one glass of wine for every ten pages you write. Proceed to crank out sixty pages of character description. Print it out the next day after the hangover wears off, read it over, and flush all sixty pages down the toilet because it sounds like a high school student trying to imitate Cormac McCarthy.
  3. Walk to the store for more wine and a plunger after the first draft of your radical novel clogged the toilet. Make small talk with the cashier. When she asks what kind of stories you write, look at the ceiling, shrug, and say, “Whatever comes to mind,” realizing that after the first three glasses of wine you forgot what you wanted to write about in the first place. Walk out of the store with the bottle of wine in one hand and the plunger in the other, like all writers do at some point.
  4. Rewrite your visionary, stupendous novel in a new voice. Shift the paradigms so radically that you end up with one hundred pages of a different novel entirely. Print it out, read through it, and this time flush the same sixty pages, keeping forty pages of unnecessary but extremely well-written exposition. Blame writer’s block and pour another glass of wine.
  5. Spiral into a deep depression because you can’t seem to write a novel. Spend the weekend drinking wine and reading Cormac McCarthy novels while sitting in front of your word processor. Manage to write another page of exposition, then go a bar where writers are most likely to congregate, to ask them for help with your insurmountable writer’s block.
  6. Choose a swank hipster brew pub in a highly gentrified neighborhood. Stumble in and identify four or five writers sitting in a corner; you know they are writers because they have ordered wine in a brew pub and have brought their plungers with them. You order wine too and spend the next five hours pretending to listen to their advice but, like them, you spend much of the time updating your status about the loser Cormac McCarthy wannabes surrounding you.
  7. The next morning, email Cormac McCarthy. By now, your plot and character names should be thoroughly forgotten. You decide that you cannot write without his prophetic advice, so do not even attempt writing until you a receive a reply from Cormac McCarthy’s agent, a terse email containing the titles of several self-help books that Cormac McCarthy has written to counteract the rise of depressed writers trying to imitate him. You purchase one such book, entitled It’s Called Trying, Doofus. it features McCarthy on the cover holding a plunger.
  8. Spend the next three months perusing the Internet for cures to writer’s block and trying each one until it becomes boring. Start with the obvious (writing), then move on to the more exciting suggestions, like boxing Irish dairy farmers or having an affair with the prince of Liechtenstein. Try living on a diet of onions and peaches, or preach the gospel to alligators. All writers have their quirks, right?
  9. Try to be a writer; do everything you can to be a writer, because we all know being a writer is a lot easier than actually writing. The act of writing is difficult, often lonely work, requiring dangerous amounts of time alone with one’s thoughts resulting in alienation and poor social skills. Although the benefits of writing (completing a draft with a satisfied sigh, seeing the delight in the faces of those you share a polished draft with, seducing people, and such) are truly worth the effort in the end, the work that goes into writing is emotionally exhausting. If it were easy, there would be a lot more people writing than sitting around being writers.
  10. If writing were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Scars can be beneficial sometimes.

-jk

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