Writing advice can be sickening. Stick around on the internet long enough and you'll keep reading the same old tripe, constantly regurgitated by would-be writing experts, vomiting up platitudes as if they are pearls of wisdom when in fact they are the stale old hair-balls we've already been gagging on. Don't worry, as a purveyor of writing 'wisdom' I'm well aware of the irony – truth is, if I really knew what I was talking about I'd be sunning myself in a Tuscan villa, sipping Chianti whilst penning my next best-seller. But I'm not. I'm here, trying to tell you what I think I know about writing. So for this post I thought I'd share something I'm confident I know a lot about – how to be a bloody awful writer.
Writing isn't like too much hard work – it is too much hard work. What previously seemed like a leisurely lifestyle tapping away at a keyboard whilst sipping Chianti in a Tuscan villa (N.B. theme) is actually one long, hard, unappreciated and underpaid slog in squalor while the mortgage goes unpaid and the kids starve. Who want's that? Not me, not you, and certainly not the kids. Have some dignity – give it the hell up.
You don't have enough fingers for all the fuckwits who come up to you and say: hey, I've got a great idea for a novel/play/film but I'm not going to tell you because you'll steal it and make a million. Just for the record – no we won't. We don't need your ideas. We've got enough of our own. Ideas are easy – writing a story with enough narrative interest to last more than two pages is hard. Very hard. It's hard enough trying to write something that maintains our interest as we're writing it – never mind the reader reading it. So don't bother – write in the white-hot heat of inspiration and when the passion fades, move on. Sticking with a piece that bores you would be like taking the time to reignite a stale marriage - and who bothers to do that these days?
Best to just move on to the next.
Never share your work
Because people think they know everything but they just don't. They'll never understand what you are trying to achieve. They'll just say hurtful things like 'it's not finished'. They will care about the fact that it's not interesting beyond page two. People are just too selfish to cough up hard cash to fund your writing lifestyle so you can find time to develop yourself as a human being and as a writer in your Tuscan villa in the Chianti hills. Sharing your work would be like coughing up hair-balls before swine – or something like that. You might have to reassess your (lack of) talent. You might have to self-analyse. And heaven help us – you might be obliged to rewrite. No chance. Keep it to yourself.
If you wanted to learn you'd have been a teacher or something, right? Writing isn't about learning, it's not about craft or structure, it's about art, it's about typing, it's about tapping into your unadulterated angst and rage about the injustices you've suffered in your life and the fact that nobody appreciates you as a distinct and special human being who's hairballs are worth perfect strangers handing over good money so you can fund your lifestyle in the Chianti hills, Tuscany, Italy. Learning might have made that last sentence punctuated better. Learning is for chumps.
Join a writers' group
What better way to convince yourself you’re a writer when you can't be bothered to learn about the craft or even finish what you're writing than to surround yourself with other people who are exactly the same? You can then let other people who don't know what they're talking about tell you what you should be doing with your writing – then you can dismiss them out of hand because if they really knew what they were doing, they'd be in Tuscany sipping Chianti - rather than in a Peckham pub sipping Fosters. The great thing about a writers' group is that if you follow their advice, you'll all be writing the same stuff – in fact you can pretty much let them write it for you. And the best thing about being part of a writers' group? It makes you feel like a writer even when you're not doing any writing!