Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | How To
How to Write a Book
- Do absolutely nothing until you can see the whites of your deadline’s eyes.
- If you’ve got cowriters, try to disagree as much as possible. If you’re of the same opinion regarding a section of text, bicker about dinner choices.
- Criticize what little progress you’ve achieved and doubt what little talent you possess.
- Do not write any new words when there are still old words that have only been rewritten twelve times. No sentence is complete until it’s lost all traces of your original thought.
- Complain about the pressure of a looming deadline to everyone you know. This will ameliorate the jealousy and bitterness felt by friends without book deals. It will also put an end to social invitations that may hamper your writing progress, as your former friends will now hate you.
- Stop sleeping. Complain about how tired you are too.
- Never have a mental breakdown before 11 p.m.
- Do not postpone other projects so that you can focus on the current one. It’s better to spread yourself so thin that you produce an evenly distributed amount of complete crap.
- If you’ve gotten this far without a single technical foul-up, now’s a good time to download something viral.
- Make a schedule for yourself, but do not even remotely follow it. Instead, continually do some mental math that divides your remaining pages by the rapidly dwindling number of hours.
- The best writing is that which is compiled from dozens of different documents, including things you’ve e-mailed or text-messaged to yourself. Try to create separate documents on as many different computers as are available. Some things will be irrevocably lost, and hours will be spent cursing. Learn a lesson about orderliness, but do not act upon such knowledge.
- Some terribly constructed sentences always make good low-hanging fruit for your cowriters to edit, thus protecting your awful idea from their meddling.
- Were you napping? Stop that. It’s 11 o’clock already. Start freaking out, hard.
- If you’ve worked hard three days in a row, take a hard-earned day off. And it looks like snow tomorrow, so you might as well take the whole weekend. But a day off from writing is not a day off from complaining!
- If you haven’t drastically gained or lost weight, you’re just not writing well.
- Assume your sources are reputable. When some accidental research reveals the source that serves as foundation for your work to be as reliable as grandma’s memory, briefly consider the amount of work it will take to correct things at this late hour, then fuck it and move on.
- Pick up any book on your bookshelf, skim a few pages, and admit that it’s a terrible book… but better than anything you’ll ever write. Cry.
- If one of your cowriters is something of an optimist, shit in his hat.
- If you’re not panicking, call your agent and request they he or she panics. You’ll have no problem panicking afterward.
- Call your mom.
- Your time is more valuable than your money. Spend as much cash as you’ve got in your pockets.