The Writer’s Life: Five Easy Steps

Not everyone wants the fame and glory of being a business writer (like me). Every year, plenty of would-be writers set their sights on more prosaic pursuits, such as writing The Great American Novel.

If that’s your goal, you can start relaxing, because we have here a five-step process to achieving that dream. Despite what you may have heard from so-called friends and experts, becoming a successful writer is not hard! We’ll show you how, in only five easy steps, you, too can be agonizing over whether to use “imbecilic” or “idiotic” in a piece of writing no one will ever read.

Step One: Your Office

It’s best if you can avoid distractions like comfortable chairs and climate-controlled air. Get yourself a cramped, untidy desk facing a blank wall to stare at while you wait for inspiration to strike. Writing is pain, and the sooner you come to accept that, the sooner you can be a real writer.

Step Two: What to Write

You’ll write best if you have a good grasp of the subject matter. So if you’re an attorney, consider writing about how much you hate lawyer jokes. If you’re a nurse, you could document how much you dislike dealing with unpleasant doctors and patients. Clerical workers can write about monotony and depression.

Once you’ve chosen a general subject, look around your personal life for characters to use. You, too, can profit from exposing your childhood insecurities to the world, lampooning close friends, and criticizing successful professionals—all from the discomfort of your chair. Just be sure to change the names, to avoid libel lawsuits!

Step Three: Feedback

Once you’ve gotten something on paper, you’ll need to start forcing everyone you know to read what you write. That will clear your social calendar indefinitely, as people start avoiding you so they don’t have to tell you how brilliant they thought your new movie synopsis (or epic-length poem) was.

If you’ve already worn out your literary welcome with family and friends, it’s time to marry an editor. They’re invaluable for making half-baked ideas sound reasonable, so you’ll want one handy. The alternative is paying for services, and what writer has money for that?

If you can’t marry an editor for whatever reason (but let’s not rule out bigamy if you already happen to be married), your best resource is to find someone who hates everything—animal, plant, or mineral—and make them “critique” your work. They may not improve your writing much, but it’ll give you a taste of the painful joy writers crave.

Step Four: Getting Published

It’s not about who you know—it’s about who you can pretend to be. Signing your manuscripts as “John Grisham” or “J.K. Rowling” is a great way to get your work noticed. After the royalties come in, you’ll have plenty of money to pay damages from the infringement lawsuits.

Step Five: Living the Life

Congratulations—now you’re a real writer! What’s next? Go back to your desk, stare at the wall, and fight down the panic that you’ll never be able to write anything longer than a thank-you note again. Call a few of your former friends and beg for reassurance that they like your work.

Then give yourself a pat on the back! You’re living the life!

Monelle Smith blogs for Gemstone Media, located in Boise, Idaho.

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