I’m feeling a bit churlish, a bit negative – probably because I’ve been fighting a headache all week and losing. When my head feels upside down and inside out, sometimes my thoughts follow suit. I’m not Alice at the tea party; I’m the Mad Hatter. Keep that in mind as you read my Writer’s Top Ten List*.
- Don’t write. Talk about writing; fantasize about writing. You would write if you had time.
- While you are fantasizing about being a writer, imagine the fame you will achieve. Think of the buckets of cash you’ll make. Plan to quit your day job. Spend plenty of time imagining your story on the big screen too. (I’ll bet Brad Pitt would fight Tom Cruise over the leading role. (Squeal!))
- Don’t waste your time reading. Especially avoid the classics. Plots from movies and television are great fodder for story ideas.
- Don’t worry about grammar, spelling and punctuation. (That’s what Spell Check is for!) Also, the publishing houses have editors that will fix your mistakes. That’s why they hire them.
- Your job is to be fully engaged in the creative process, not to be technically accurate. Let your thoughts flow from page to page and then send that baby off to a literary agent. There’s no need to read through it. Don’t waste your time.
- Don’t worry about research or fact checking either. It doesn’t matter that Phoenix is two and a half hours from Flagstaff, that Chamberlain was the British prime minister before Churchill or that marines use M-16s not AK-47s. Facts can be twisted to fit your plot, not the other way around.
- Don’t spend too much time researching literary agents. They may say they don’t represent your genre, but once they have your bad boy in their hands, they’ll want to drop everything and sign you up, pronto!
- Don’t waste time fussing over a query letter either. Just tell them how much your mother loves your manuscript. Use lots of dynamic adjectives! Tell them how similar you are to John Grisham. Make sure your story has a vampire in it.
- It’s okay if writing isn’t really the thing that you are best at. Look at all those actors who write books – they have other priorities too.
- And if an agent or editor criticizes you or rejects you, let them have it! (I’d suggest a retaliatory e-mail – make sure and use vulgar language.) What do they know, anyway? Hacks, has-beens, wannabes. They’re all just part of the corporate machine, money-driven, uninspired. Above all, do NOT let them convince you to look at your writing with a critical eye. They are wrong, not you.
[*Disclaimer: Yes, I made the list myself. No, that doesn’t mean the ideas are original. Yes, probably every agent and publisher has a similar list, at least in their head. Yes, I did work for many years as a freelance editor. No, I’m not published yet. Yes, it's satire. Yes, ironic too. No, my headache has not gone away.]