You’ve made up your mind. After years of procrastination, relentless pacing and telling your friends all about it, you are adamant that you never want to write a book. Can you just imagine the humiliation of seeing your work in print? Having someone else read it? Gasp!! So to help you achieve your goals I want to provide a little advice to really ensure it doesn’t happen. Here are some steps you can take to live, comforted by the knowledge, that the book you’ve been struggling with all your life never makes it to print.
1. Don’t write.
I know it will be difficult, but if you can possibly manage it, stop writing right now. Watch TV, scrub the bathroom, mow the lawn or play computer games, anything to keep you away from a word processor. If you find that incredibly difficult to do then move onto Step 2.
If you just can’t stop writing then the next best thing to ensuring you never finish writing a book is to be a perfectionist. Readers want to go on a ride, a journey into your imagination or life experiences just as if you were narrating it off the cuff. But because you’ve the advantage of time on your side, take it to ensure you’ve crossed every T, dotted every I and provided as much tiny detail as possible. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – therefore you obviously need a thousand words or more to describe a scene in your book. Ensure you soliloquy like Keats, cliche like Shakespeare and allegory like Dante and you’ll never get to the end of your manuscript.
3. Over Research
Assuming you are not OCD enough to get hung up on Step 2, over researching is another excellent way of wasting a lot of time looking into matters slightly related to the content of your book but having no real bearing on your topic or contents. On the upside you can become an expert in anything. Maybe your book has a character that is a chef – then watching a couple of seasons of Masterchef is a sure fire (and justifiable) way to spend time away from writing. Think about the wealth of knowledge you’ll be able to stun your friends with at dinner parties having read half the content of Journal of Modern Medicine because your next protagonist is a brain surgeon.
Another great thing to over researcher is how to be a writer. There are hundreds if not thousands of self help guides on writing (including this blog 🙂 ). You could spend a lifetime just researching the profession of writing and not have to write a single word. Book writing problem solved!
If research isn’t your thing then you’ve got to try this step. Think about this: writing a book is a massive undertaking. You’ve probably got so many ideas in your head that it would’t be possible to get them down on paper (or type them into a computer). Where would you start? Where would you end? It’s most likely such a mess of imaginings bouncing between your synapses that it will never make sense on paper anyway. Best to just leave them in your occipital cortex (yeah I had to research that!).
5. Treat it like a Hobby
If you don’t make a set time everyday or week to write, then it might never happen. You could write an entire chapter and the next time you find a moment to work on the book you’ll have forgotten what’s going on and have to spent the entire session reading over it again. This will definitely leave no time for continued writing. Gee, you might even leave it so long between writing sessions that you will forget you were even writing a book. Problem solved!
6. Please Everybody
Wouldn’t it be terrible to write something down that offends someone or opposes their world view? You definitely don’t want to do that. And because not everyone agrees on everything best not to put your two cents worth out there for all to read. Imagine the pain if one in a hundred readers tell you your book is crap. Oh the humiliation! Your friends are bound to think the lead protagonist of the story is them. They will most likely take everything personally. Even if your friend is a middle aged white female heterosexual and your hero is a Spanish teenage male homosexual. I’m right, right? Best not upset anyone.
The best way to get back to Step 4, if you’ve made it this far, is to ask for advice from your friends. There will be so many suggestions and opposing opinions you won’t know which way is up. Should you kill off your protagonist half way through? Should they be a plumber or a marine biologist? Oh, maybe you should set your paranormal romance fiction on a space ship. One of them is surely not going to be into the genre at all, which would ensure that 95% of the population won’t like it either. Friends and family will know better what is in your mind than you do.
8. Make Excuses
There is always something isn’t there, that gets in the way of finishing projects? Maybe your computer died and so you can’t write for a month. Perfect! Not to mention you’ve forgotten how to use a pen and paper as a replacement. I’m sure if you really think about it you’ll soon realise that you don’t have enough time to write a book, don’t have enough money, don’t have the right type of ideas and are too busy cleaning the bathroom (wasn’t that Step 1?). You could of course start writing a book and then get pregnant or lose your day job or start a new diet – it’s very hard to write when you are hungry. In fact, you could put that imagination to work thinking up all types of totally legitimate excuses as to why you can’t finish the book. Then, of course, you won’t have any imagination left for writing.
9. Think anyone can do it
With all the books in the world do you really believe it needs another one? Anyway, someone’s probably written the same book you were going to write already. Everyone writes books and the chances of you having a completely original idea in this day and age is almost impossible. If I think about my own personal circumstances about 3 in every 1000 people I’m acquaintances with have written a book. Gee with odds like… need I say more.
So you’ve failed all the other steps and made it this far. Well don’t despair. There’s still time to achieve your dream. Never make that book a reality. And you know what? As you might have realised in Step 9. with around 0.3% of people you know writing books, its bloody hard. Why put yourself through the torment? Do you really need it? Anyway, once you’ve finished the book you’ll have to publish it. What a nightmare. You certainly don’t want to go down that path. So hang up your keyboard now and walk away from the computer. Delete all the files because you know:
If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you even tried!