How Not to Write

There are lots of good articles and books on how to write or how to improve your writing. Sometimes, what works best is a bad example. So, in the interest of improving your writing, I offer some tips on how to do it wrong.

First, find a distracting environment. Think Harrison Bergeron. Currently Madagascar 3 is blaring on a flatscreen in front of me. You should be thankful you’re getting complete sentences. Sure, sometimes a change of scenery can be useful, but generally you want un-distracting scenery. You know what that is for you. For me it means avoid bookstores and places with other people who are talking, moving, or within my range of view. Also, being outdoors is iffy because that’s where birds live.

Second, find an uncomfortable place or posture to sit. I’m sitting on the floor with the wood part of a chair poking me in the back just below my shoulder blades. The idea was that I would have my back rubbed. Unfortunately, my masseuse has succumbed to the above-mentioned cinematic atrocity.

Third, a lack of clear idea or plan for your writing can help increase your lack of productivity. I’m not sure where I thought I’d go with the rest of this paragraph.

Fourth, try to squeeze it into your schedule, don’t make it a part of your schedule. Even better, try to squeeze it into an unsettled, often-changing schedule. That way you will almost guarantee you will be writing at night, close to bedtime, when your energy and enthusiasm are probably sapped. (Unless you’re a night owl. Then get up unusually early, but be careful because that can be habit forming and turn you into an early-rising writer who gets words on paper everyday.)

Fifth, read about writing instead of writing. This is different than just reading about writing which can actually be useful and inform and improve your writing. This is best done by sitting down at your computer and minimizing whatever you normally write in while searching for things about writing. It gives you sort of a contact high of writing without actually getting your words down. Posts like this one you’re reading are exceptionally good non-writing reading.

Seventh, don’t proofread or rewrite. You should be confident in your unfiltered output. Besides, it is more fun to just free write than to edit.

Eighth, unresolved problems and issues are always a good way to limit your writing ability. Don’t use them as motivation or topics, just sit and stew about them instead of actually writing.

Ninth, get people to make you feel pressured, either to do other things for them or to hurry up and be done. Nothing like intense pressure to dry up those creative juices.

Tenth, spend what time you have daydreaming about all the great stuff you could be writing if only something was different, like something on this list. I mean just think of what you could do if you were free from distractions and had a set time everyday. You could be a writer!


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