1Listen from 0:06
As an extremely talented and successful writer, I often get asked “What are the top five things every up-and-coming writer needs to know?”
So in the spirit of offering a helping hand, I present here to you my five steps for guaranteed success as an author:
2Listen from 0:27
Step 1: Give up
Just give up, seriously and wholly. If you were any good you would have been ‘discovered’ by now, and the fact that you haven’t yet only re-inforces just how mediocre you truly are. So what is the point? Recall, if you will, the last time you were at a book store browsing for your next purchases. Do you see all those books you didn’t buy? That is the kind of writer you are: middle of the road and entirely ignorable. This is not to say you are unable to rise above the vanilla everyman-author. Of course you can do anything you truly commit your efforts to. In fact I would go as far as to say any writer you ever cherished was not the greatest writer of their generation; they were, in reality, the most adequate author of their generation combined with the most determination of that generation. He or she wanted the success more than any other of their peers. To truly be a success as a writer, you will need bulletproof resolve: how many rejections and challenges will you face, endure, and survive? Writing is the easy part but if you can’t harden your determination and carry the consequences that come with that mindset, just give up now and save me the trouble of reading your half-arsed attempt at turning your hobby into a career.
3Listen from 2:12
Step 2: Lie to everyone
You’re still here? I can not emphasise enough how much you really should just give up, only hard work awaits you… Well if you insist, fine, let’s continue. Next up: start lying to your family. Tell them how great you are, enlighten them to the knowledge that you are the literary love-child of Hemingway and Shakespeare. If you manage to convince them, then move on to your friends, selling them on the same conviction. Even after they have read your work and judge it as inferior, highlight to them that they are incompetent critics, it’s all too ‘above’ them. Now when it comes to agents and editors, you’re going to need to up your game regarding this lie, it’s time for the big guns. Make the lies sexy – sex sells – make them positively lust after you. There is no lie you should not tell in order to convince this tier of people. Let’s be clear: you cannot lie to the publishers. That task is borderline impossible mainly because that tier of the industry is deaf to writers, so they cannot hear your lies even if they wanted to. But they do listen to agents and editors, so get those folks to do the leg work for you. Hence the bulk of good lies should be used on agents and editors. Savvy? Fantastic! If you mange to lie to all those educated and intelligent people about your skills, effort, and resolve then you might have a chance against your biggest obstacle of all: lying to yourself. The greatest destroyer of writers is their own lack of confidence. I have no doubt you have that little voice in your head telling you the truth about yourself. If you do not drown that voice in lies, it will overwhelm you. That’s a fact.
4Listen from 4:21
Step 3: Whatever you do, don’t be yourself
You’re great! Yes, there is nothing flawed about you. Your looks are eye-sweets, your charm is palpable, your work speaks for itself – telling volumes about your talent and your importance in this world… Oh wait, no, that’s not you. You’re that vanilla middle-of-the-road writer and liar, remember? You are, and always have been, just yourself. That person I described at the beginning of this paragraph, that’s who you need to be, that person sells books. Or rather, that is the person people want to buy books from. The world is filled with ‘normal’. Readers don’t want ‘normal’, they want gods, they want someone more than you are. You are not important enough for me to give you my time and money, never mind my admiration. Don’t be yourself, be more than yourself – so much more, be at least 100 times more than you are now. Insist for and from yourself, and everyone around you at least, at the bare minimum 100 times more effort, risk, reward, attention, demands, and anything think else you can think of. Perhaps that way you might become even vaguely interesting enough to show up on the radar of the people who matter most: everybody else. If you aim to impress everyone, you’re bound to impress at least someone!
5Listen from 6:10
Step 4: Don’t take advice
Congratulations, by now you should be an arrogant liar, head-strong and willing to corrupt any and all morals that society holds dear. And most importantly up to this point, you are anybody other than yourself. The heavens know that is what is required to merely journey this far. If that is in fact the case, you’re likey to find there is nothing left for you to learn, you are perfect. It is impossible for you to learn anything more, it’s quite likely that you were born this way, you’ve always had the ability and knowledge to became the best writer the world has ever known. So why try harder? What possible feedback could you receive that you do not already know? Yet your family and friends are clearly determined to give you their less than positive opinions! Bah hum-bug! They are rarely wise enough to recognise genius, right? Your peers are filled to the brim with jealousy, to the point that any feedback they give you is tainted with traps to sabotage you. As for agents, editors, and publishers? Well I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “Those who can’t, teach.” The full expression is in fact: “Those who can’t, teach and join the industry as agents of failure, bent on destroying any and all other talents with falsehoods.” Clearly their opinion cannot be trusted. Which leaves you with no one else on Earth with enough respect and experience to teach you anything, never mind give you advice – unless you can converse directly with God. However, judging from his efforts regarding Creation, you can likely teach him a thing or two since you are the exception to the rule… and perfect. Repeat Step 3 until this is understood.
6Listen from 8:18
Step 5: Practice is a waste of Perfect
Look, you’re on Step 5. Even God is your fan. By now every word you place is flawless to a fault, which only makes the reader appreciate it more. Your writings are perfect. Can you imagine how pointless it would be to try a new style, a new genre merely for the sake of breaking through your comfort zone? How meaningless it would be to write and re-write and continue writing. Each time refining the plot, tightening up dialog, introducing more imagination and mystery. You got all those aspects correct in the first draft – the draft you did on the Sunday afternoon before the Monday deadline. Or inbetween your day job and balancing relationships. And speaking of, who really needs a family? Isolation is wholly underrated. Not to mention you were one of the lucky few who can function without exercise, so all in all that extra hour you used to put in going to gym, on the research of the attraction to Internet memes, will pay off nicely in your first and only draft. Well okay let’s read through your draft once at least, and maybe correct the blatant inconsistencies, not that there are any. Well okay so this is your third draft, it’s not like you have written and re-written this complex, fact-based, and multi-twist murder-mystery over twelve times! Twelve times, that would be for incompetent mediocre writers. You’re born perfect, remember?
7Listen from 10:03
I know you simply skipped directly to this step. Or better yet, you skim-read the other steps and here you are, perceivably enlightened. In truth, if you can’t even be bothered to read one shitty article on preparing for the tough challenges that lie ahead, you will not survive the grueling path that lies between you and that wild fantasy you call ‘Your Dream’. In that case, I refer you to my first step: JUST.GIVE.UP. If you really did read all five steps, then stop now. Stop what you are doing. Right now, just stop it. You are procrastinating. Everything that you do that is not writing, is procrastinating. Stop doing that and go get writing. Do it until blood seeps from at least three different parts of your body. Train your body and your mind to endure the pressures of the deepest depths and harshest heartbreaking cruelties your imagination can muster up. Write, survive, thrive… Because Lord knows everything you ever believed in will be destroyed.
In truth, the best piece of pseudo-pop-advice I can give you comes from a body builder on YouTube: if you want a six-pack, get advice from people who actually have a six-pack.