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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

30 Ways for Writers to Be (and Stay) Miserable (Part 3)

Great art comes from suffering, so here are some ways to make yourself miserable.

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21- Make excuses. Develop intricate and complex excuses for why you aren't getting much done. Tell them to anyone and everyone. Even believe them yourself. Focus on the excuse like it is what is holding you back. If you begin to suspect that if you really wanted to write, you would find a way, lie down until the feeling goes away. It's the excuse's fault! As long as you have something outside of your control preventing you from writing (no mater how flimsy it might be) you never have to rise to the challenge. Rising to challenges can make one less miserable–you certainly don't want that.

22- Make it all about fame. Writing for fame is a superb way to be miserable. Think about all the writers you know. Now about how many of them are published--ever; even just once or twice. Now about how many published writers you've never even heard of. Now how about the number of published writers whose name you technically know wouldn't stop on the street for an autograph. Now how many writers you know and enjoy but have no idea what they look like. Now focus on the dozen or so who you would know on sight and lament the fact that you're not one of them. There's so much work between you and "famous" that making that your objective instead of just enjoying the writing will be a sure fire recipe for a life of disappointment and misery.

23- Make it all about money.  The beauty of this maneuver for misery is you can pull it off in two different ways. (And both at once if you're really into self-destruction!) Of course, you can be miserable that you haven't made oodles of money. Writers often work for years, sometimes nearly a decade, before they begin to pull in the sort of money that might pay the bills and being rich from writing is almost as rare as being famous. That's a lot of potential misery, especially if you aren't really writing or give up. But you can also chase money with your writing by doing a bunch of writing that pays but you don't enjoy. Do soul-crushing work that is "technically" writing (and perhaps is even good money) but that you hate. Whether you're in a dead end job as a freelance writer or just write porn for two cents a word, and fall asleep drunk clutching your Masters in Literature. Either way, you might want to start socking away now for those therapy bills.

24- Depend on others to validate you. Self confidence is like a banshee keen to misery. You need to take that crap out behind the chemical shed for a little "unsanctioned capital punishment" if you're going to suffer properly. Have no faith in your abilities. Just depend on everyone around you to validate you. You are not a real writer unless everyone on the entire internet says so. If you get fifty good comments and one bad one, let the one get under your skin. If you really want to be miserable, every time you put something out ask people what they think. Use the phrases "honest criticism" and "I can take it" for best results.

25- Overwork. Combine simple neurological and biological realities with this elegant method of stoking misery's fire. Not only will a lack of down time keep you cranky and on edge, but the need for a creative brain to experience relaxation in order to be optimally creative will mean that you will work twice as hard for fewer returns. If you're serious about tanking up on a lot of misery in a short amount of time, this method is the one for you because it's one of the few methods that can take you swiftly to a psychotic break.

26- Prepare endlessly. Never go for it. That might be provocative and exhilarating and exactly the sort of challenge that ends up firing your blood and punching your misery in the face. Instead, always be just about to go for it, but always needing more preparation before the time is right. One more writing conference. One more writing camp. One more workshop class. One more year of practice. Maybe get an MFA. Maybe sign up for a local writing group. There's always room for one more. Oh if only you were a writer!

27- Believe in talent and genius. Don't treat writing like a skill that you can get better at with hard work and practice. Treat it like something ineffable. You either got "it" or you don't. And you clearly don't or you would have made it long ago. Continue trying to find ways to kindle that spark within you--just as long as those ways don't involve work. (Hard work might distract you from how miserable you are.) Don't practice. Don't work to form good habits. Look for tricks and "hacks" and that one book that will burst open the dam. Worry a lot about whether or not you have talent.

28- Lionize Your Mistakes. Unlike everyone else on the planet who has ever lived throughout time, you have made mistakes. The rest of us know exactly what we're doing and have never erred. These mistakes will, of course, prevent you from ever doing anything else again. They represent your inability to do anything, and not anything like human frailty. So don't bother picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. Just sit in the mud and be miserable. After all who ever heard of someone overcoming failure. Remember there's no loathing like self-loathing.

Pffffffft. What do the Chinese know about wisdom?

29- Take everything for granted. Are you crazy? Counting your blessings is a terrible idea! How on Earth do you expect to stay miserable if you're constantly taking stock of how far you've come, your successes, or everything you've got going for you. This is like anti-misery. You have to take that shit for granted. Once you've achieved anything or are given anything assume that you're entitled to it, set your sights on what you haven't achieved yet, and make yourself miserable that you're not already there.

30- Don't write.  The best way, of course, to be miserable as a writer is to be a writer who doesn't write. Play video games. Watch movies. Go out with friends. Give writing no time and no priority within your life. Make it something you want to be doing but that you can't ever find the time to do. Want to be a writer, but never actually write so that your ambition is never realized and you can wallow in the misery of your failure.

Follow this simple advice and you will be absolutely miserable. And from your suffering will true art be born.

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