I was thrilled, after a very scary year of unemployment, to be hired as a part-time writing tutor at a local community college. The job was a perfect fit for me, and I felt right at home. Unfortunately, after months of devoting all my time to writing, my productivity began to suffer right away. I couldn’t seem to manage my time and deal with this new commitment on top of my old responsibilities or switch my brain back and forth between a working and writing mode. My creative output ground to a halt. I could not understand how I could be so responsible and efficient at work, yet so inefficient and unprolific at home. This simply did not compute. Other writers seemed to manage. I have read about those super writers who rise at 4:00a.m. to squeeze in a couple of hours of work before the day begins. 4:00 a.m.??? I can barely get out of bed at all in the morning let alone rise at 4:00 a.m.!! In order to exorcise this demon that was blocking my so-called muse, I decided to create some guidelines for my current inefficacious state. Since there is so much material written across the media, regarding how to be a writer and that wasn’t working for me, maybe a little reverse psychology would. So, without further ado, here are my guidelines for how not to be a writer:
- Be sure to have a monumental stack of bills on your desk. The stack will serve as a constant reminder that you don’t have two nickels to rub against each other and visions of homelessness will be so distracting you won’t be able to string a sentence together.
- Have a teenaged daughter close at hand who requires a great deal of chauffeuring, with extra driving required for soccer practice, Green Club, chorus rehearsal, chemistry projects, football and basketball games, and other social events such as movies and birthday parties. If you don’t already have one of these young human deterrents handy, I am quite sure that there is a parent out there who would be more than happy to supply one or more for a nominal fee.
- Take on all household responsibilities such as making phone calls (two hours on hold with the IRS last week!!!), scheduling repair people, running errands, grocery shopping, taking the dog to the vet, doing laundry and cleaning the house. You must be enough of a control freak to firmly believe that no one can do these things as well as you and you must never accept any offer of assistance with any of these chores.
- Randomly determine that making snickerdoodles is absolutely the most important thing on your to-do list; so important, in fact, you must drop everything to make them.
- Spend inordinate amounts of time researching MFA degrees because surely spending another $40,000.00 on your education will propel you to writing stardom even though your existing degrees and huge student loan haven’t brought you even remotely close to stardom thus far!
- Spend equally inordinate amounts of time investigating mundane things on the internet like why the orchid has withered since its re-potting, a deliberate ruse regularly employed by you to avoid writing when things aren’t going well.
- Waste lots of time dreaming of winning the lottery and moving to Bora Bora.
- Last, but certainly by no means least, make sure you immediately retreat into a black hole of despair the minute any submission is rejected, Eat lots of chocolate while ensconced and refuse to come out thereby, yet again, successfully avoiding the laptop.
So there you have them! Follow this regimen closely and I can pretty much guarantee that you will not succeed as a writer. However, should you decide to create your own how not to be a writer guidelines, search carefully amongst the words, punctuation, and clauses. You just might find your errant muse hiding behind that orchid, mischievously eating chocolate, and patiently waiting until your back is turned before making a break for it to Bora Bora.