My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The (Worst) Best Advice About How to Be a Famous Writer

When I start finding that writing feels too much like work,
I stop writing and be awesome instead.
A collection of the absolute worst the most totally fucking amaziballs epic advice you will ever hear that will have you hobnobbing with King, Brown, Myers, and Rowling in less time than it takes Lindsy Lohan to make poor life choices.

Dear Hopeful Writer,

Are you tired of being told to "write a lot" and "read a lot" and the dreadfully cliche "write every day," when you absolutely know that there is actually just a totally metal secret to becoming a world famous author without doing a lot of work?  Well, I'm here to tell you that not only are you right, but I know the secret, and I'm willing to share it.  (Because the cabal of successful writers who would kill me, don't know who I really am.) Success comes before work--not just in the dictionary but for anyone who's willing to bypass the namby pamby slogans and instead use carefully guarded, ancient techniques to unlock their hidden potential.

Let me show you how to five finger death punch your career--but trust me, the only thing it will drop dead from (after five steps) is just how awesome it is.

Last time we talked about how to get started.  But by now I'm guessing you have your Macbook Pro, your special desk, your Celtic symbol journals, your hundred dollar pens, your special coffee house, and you've taken dozens of classes.  You're writing only once or twice a month, but you're not a famous novelist yet and you're wondering what's going on.  "I bought all the right equipment. Why am I not a successful writer yet?"

Let's assume that you've got all the basics covered?  Congratulations.  You have come further than most wannabes ever will.  Now you're ready for the next steps in your journey toward being a famous writer.  You're very close to blissful days spent working for only an hour or two, vast wealth, and lines of groupies down the block (in the gender or genders of your preference).

The best part?  You're already on the right track because you've spared no expense to surround yourself with quality materials.  From good material comes good writing, and you've got the best materials.  However, the most fabulous writing in the world can't make you the next John Grisham unless you know what to do with it.

Money should flow away from the writer!

This general rule of writing--and really all art--should be the formula by which you gauge any path to success.  I'm going to give you some specifics below, but really you can easily tell for yourself if you're on the right track by asking yourself this simple question: "Am I spending a lot more money than I'm making?"  If the answer isn't an emphatic yes, you're just wasting time and energy.  There are a lot of scams out there designed to take advantage of how badly people want to be writers by offering them success from working hard and diligence, but the only real formula is to spend lots of money.

The reason most authors are upper middle class white males is because they have the money in our society.  Becoming a writer takes money.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  You want to be ready to drop some serious scrill on the opportunities that will open doors for you.  Do not just think you can sit at home and write.  All that leads to is a pile of writing with no place to go.

Now I know you've already had some opportunities to spend money with the computer and the desk and stuff, but those were just your one shot expenditures to get you started.  And yes, now you have some high quality writing coming out, but we need to fine tune it, take it to the next level, and make sure you are seen by the power hitters who are going to turbocharge your career into a jet-setting life of leisure punctuated by glamorous social functions, fame, and fortune.

It's time to be a playa, playa!

It takes money to make money.  It's as true in writing as it is in business, so don't expect to just work hard for a few years, slowly build a name for yourself, and then start to make modest money and maybe gain fame if you write in a particularly accessible style with content that happens to be popular.  That's redonkulous.  This is very much a "quick fix" game and getting to the fame and fortune part of writing is going to take a substantial investment. If you love being a writer, you'll forget the florid poetry of all those whiny posers who "love writing for its own sake," and drop more cheddar than a supersized nacho plate all over your dreams.

Mmmmmm  Cheddarific.

Of course once you're famous, you'll make all that money back (and more) by doing nothing.  You'll pop off a quick book once every two or three years, and watch the money roll in. So it's more than worth it to invest now.

Here are just a few ways to make sure money is flowing away from you:

1- More classes  I know you took a lot of classes, but take more.  You should basically always be signed up for at least one or two. How serious is a writer who just writes and isn't signed up for a couple of classes?  Not very serious, let me tell you.

The important thing to understand is that these days your classes aren't so much places to learn to write, as places to network, be seen writing, and show the world how seriously you take your commitment to being a writer by letting the money flow away from you.

Of course picking up a few more writing tips won't hurt.  No one has ever learned enough that they essentially know the basics.  There's always another trick or platitude to be mastered in the game to be a better writer that a teacher can convey.  No writer's problem is "just getting to work," or "just getting started," no matter what the plebs say. Writing is a series of mental tricks and meditations, not some military discipline regimen.

As before, you want to avoid classes that focus on writing and work (let the unwashed masses take those), and instead focus on classes where you can rub elbows with important people. High end writing groups are the best--the kind that take place in a really swank house and are run by authors with one or two books to their name.  They don't need to be authors you've ever heard of, but just the fact that they're running writing classes instead of working as a writer just proves how successful they are.

Don't forget that these authors-turned-teachers will obviously remember their students who talk the most about how much they like writing and are the most assertive about networking.  Dominate all the group discussions so you're not forgettable, and hit them up regularly for the direct line to their publisher or agent.  Don't be afraid to beg, bribe, or offer sexual favors--this just demonstrates how serious you are.

2 Camps  It should go without saying as an extension of #1.  If you're serious about being a writer, these shouldn't just be fun excursions where you do something you enjoy doing anyway--these should literally be the life's blood of your strategy to make it to publication.  If you feel like you could take it or leave it, but a camp with other writers might be a fun week (or weekend), just give up now and beg your friends to read your fanfic because that's all you're ever going to amount to.  When you realize that you're not a real writer until you've been to half a dozen camps, you can come back and eat at the big kid's table.  Even though camps are prohibitively expensive and require most people get time off--which increases their expense, you should be going two or three times a year.  Camps are a spectacular way to make money flow away from the writer--quickly and visibly.  They should be a cornerstone of your stratagem for fame and fortune.

3- Literary Events When you tally up the advice of published writers about how to get successful, you'll probably notice that literary events aren't on there.  Things like readings in libraries or bookstores or bars rarely get top billing as important in the tools of success for writers.  This is because it's one of the most well kept secrets that I'm sharing with you today.  (The fact that it is mentioned no where is just proof of how incredibly effective it really is!) As with camps, it's important to go in with the right attitude.  You can't just be doing something because you wanted to get out anyway and a literary event combines being social with literary art.  You have to be doing it with the express intention of furthering your career.  Pay the cover.  Buy two or three (or four) drinks if you're in a bar, or buy a book or two if you're in a bookstore.  It may feel like the only career you're helping is the organizers of the event or the owner of the venue, but trust me that if you keep doing it week after week (after week after week), they will see all that money flowing away from you, know how serious you are, and your time will come.

4- Literary Reviews with entry and submission fees.
You may think you don't want to be published in a venue that obviously isn't financially viable, but nothing could be further from the truth.  What better way to get money to flow away from the writer.  A magazine that is obviously going bankrupt is going to supercharge your career by getting you the well needed exposure.  Any review that can't afford to read submissions without taking money to do so is exactly the sort of place that you really want to be published.  The fact that they don't sell enough copies to stay in the black shouldn't scare you--in fact, it should embolden you.  This means only the most powerhouse readers are going to be exposed to your work--not those mainstream commercial venues.

Nothing commands respect like authors who pay to be published.  Your brain may think "scam," but listen to your heart that says "totally appropriate way to keep the riffraff out."

Keep going!  Most people give up too early. They think to themselves that they've spent an awful lot of money, and they still aren't famous and rich, or they publish their book and the royalties are a fraction of what they paid on camps and classes and literary events.  These people just haven't given enough yet.

The money must flow!

Once you hit that critical mass of outgoing cash, fame and fortune will crash upon you like a tidal wave in the old Starburst commercials.  The juice--as they say--will be loose.  Until that moment of gushing serendipity, make sure the money keeps flowing away from you.

These are just a few examples!!  These are just a few ways to get money flowing away from the writer, but really as long as you stick with that rubric, you can determine the eventual success of anything.  Writing calendar computer programs that tell you how much you should be writing each day to finish your novel?  Sure, if you spend a bunch of money on them.  Special subscriptions to writing magazines that recycle the same thirty or forty articles over and over?  The more overpriced the better.  Buying The Writer's Market every single year even though you're still working on that first draft (and most of the information is available online).  Splendid! Honestly no matter where you look there are people who are willing to help those who want to be writers help money flow away from you.  It's just a matter of finding them, and ignoring those scam artists who say it's going to be a lot of hard work.

Because it's definitely not a matter of hard work.

Yours in serious writing efforts,

The White Text on Dark Background Knight

Don't worry.  I'll be back to talk about more ways to become a successful writer without doing much work.


  1. Wait, so is the $160 Waterman Pen ad something you put there or was that randomly generated by Google based on content?

    1. No I added....uh I mean the Random Mystery Blogger added those.