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January 1, 2013 11:48 AM   Subscribe

25 new years resolutions for writers for 2013 (or any other year) by Chuck Wendig.
posted by Artw (69 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I did all that last year, and now my back is killing me.
posted by philip-random at 12:03 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


FUCK GOOD; GO GREAT

But it's still ok to go good and fuck great.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:50 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


7. Stop Letting Passion Ferment Into Poison

...Writing the next great story from the deep of your heart is so much more valuable than EGADS SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERTUBES I WILL EXPEND MY CREATIVE ENERGON CUBES ASSERTING MY SUPERIORITY.


At least one writer I know of is dropping their MeFi account and blocking the site as a new years productivity raising thing. Seems drastic, but I'm sure it would be pretty effective.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on January 1, 2013


(I suppose that could also be because MEfi is IRRESISTABLY FASCINATING rather than a TAR PIT OF ARGUMENT)
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the first day of 2013, an internet stranger urged me to become a caged tiger who pees on hats.

The more things change, I suppose.
posted by postcommunism at 1:08 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was that diictated by someone high on cocaine?
posted by Grangousier at 1:15 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I totally want to watch the Goat-With-Lawnmower video.

Seconding the "avoiding MetaFilter" idea, although I'm terrible at it...
posted by alasdair at 1:20 PM on January 1, 2013


Never take writing advice from a wendigo. It's always part one of a detailed plan to lure you into the Ontario woods and kill you for sport.
posted by Nomyte at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


15. STOP POOPING IN THE TEMPLE

But, huh, pretty much any modern temple has a water closet.
posted by sammyo at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2013


Disturbing discovery about my new laptop - unlike the old one it does not have an on/off switch for WiFi on the front of it.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on January 1, 2013


Huh. I'm trying to figure out why none of this resonates with me at all (except "stop pooping in the temple," because that's something I've been thinking a lot about lately.) Something about the rah-rah aggression just doesn't map to my experience at all.

I shall go take a nap and think about it some more.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:00 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah I rarely come to any writing task with a rah rah super aggro mindset, I guess it works for some people? I like to be pretty detached about the process cause if you think about it for more than ten seconds the whole concept of lying for a living is to absurd for words.
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


And in any case working up that head of steam just sounds exhausting and I was tired when I woke up to begin with.
posted by The Whelk at 2:38 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


25 new years resolutions --

1) ALL CAPS AREN'T NECESSARY TO UNDERLINE WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.
5) Being all hip and colloquial and shit doesn't really improve your advice.
20) Neither does the liberal overuse of sundry boring cliched expletives. Really, truly, it doesn't make you more awesome and forward-thinking and iconoclastic ..... it just makes you sound like every other "interwebs" writer.

The best writing advice is: read great writers and edit yourself until you bleed. That's all that matters.
posted by blucevalo at 3:09 PM on January 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


5) Being all hip and colloquial and shit doesn't really improve your

it's always worked for me.
posted by philip-random at 3:11 PM on January 1, 2013


I too have resolved to stop spending time on MetaFilter this year and so far I wait a minute god damn it
posted by webmutant at 3:23 PM on January 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I tried staying away from metafilter but everything else was really boring.
posted by The Whelk at 3:36 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could try staying away from Metafilter, I suppose, but Matt would probably object.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:45 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh god, there are twenty five of these.
posted by mattoxic at 3:49 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: "I tried staying away from metafilter but everything else was really boring."

You know, it's true - nothing else on the internet brings me back consistently like MetaFilter. Which is why I should consider blocking it for the sake of productivity.

But then again, I'm a big believer in creative loafing and in the idea that you can't really see a thing if you stare at it too hard. Like when you look at the night sky and you can see faint stars as long as you don't try to look right at 'em. Like if you can't remember a name and you start babbling nonsense until the name spills out. Yeah, that's MetaFilter.
posted by Mister_A at 4:09 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah! Climb the sheer face of that cliff with your bloody fingernails, and punch a mountain goat in the ballsack! Read everything you see! Read until your eyes deflate and vitreous humor flows from your sockets! Don't eat breakfast until you've thought of ten cool new ways to use the word "shit"! Then do 50 burpees and run a half-mile backwards! Projectile vomiting means you're doing it right! Write like you're getting paid by the pageview! Write with your dick! Make a cool graphic out of your writing but make it hard to read! Then read it, and staple it to your right nipple so you'll always be able to read it! Then read some more! YEAH!

I'd normally say that writing like this isn't meant for me, but it did inspire me to write the above paragraph, so I guess it worked.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:46 PM on January 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


I wanted to like this, but it's so mean. I already know how to be mean to myself about my [not] writing.
posted by tuesdayschild at 4:48 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an aside about staying away from MetaFilter: In a NSF meeting last year, I got rather annoyed about some of the disparaging remarks about online communication. Surprising myself, I spoke out, declaring some of the comments ridiculous. I culminated by stating that "I'm on MetaFilter and I love people on MetaFilter and I've never met them. I love, love, love them". There was a little awkward silence and the conversation moved on, but I felt quietly pleased with myself. I am predominantly a reader, but couldn't be kept away - productivity be damned.
posted by recklessbrother at 4:57 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sit in that chair! Look out the window! Sip some coffee! Delete a paragraph! Think about your themes and characters! Walk to the fridge! Open it! Get out a peice of cheese! Eat that cheese! Run through the plot in your mind! Try to consider new ways of approaching it! Turn on the radio! Turn off the radio cause it's distracting! Walk again to the fridge! Look hopelessly into fridge! Think of a funny way to open the next paragraph! Write it down! Re write it! No wait remove it cometely! Re word it so it flows better! Tap your fingers on the desk! Check your mail! Write a brief outline for the next scene! Try to figure out how you're going to get from the current scene to the new one! Become frustrated! consider taking a bath! Considering having a smoke! Remember you forgot to do the dishes! Do the dishes! Then answer some voice mails! Go back to your desk! Sigh heavily! Look out the window! Decide you've done enough for today and put the radio back on! Wait for your husband to come home so you can have cocktails and talk to an actual human being for the first time in twelve hours! Think about what yu want for dinner! Think about what your main character would want for dinner! Suddenly have revelation on how the scene should go! Start to write but get interrupted by a phone call! Try to return but loose steam! Get up at 3am to finish scene cause its bugging you! Drink an entire bottle of wine by yourself! Pass out face down on the couch in your socks and underpants!

Wooooooo
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Write like you're getting paid by the pageview!

Write like I work for Gawker?
posted by The Whelk at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2013


Think of a palindrome!

Reward Drawer!

Go to Reward Drawer!

Get Reward!
posted by Mister_A at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's a resolution Chuck. Stop making a point then backing the point up with a parenthetical aside (Ever seen Family Guy?)
posted by mattoxic at 5:18 PM on January 1, 2013


Anyway I didn't think it was that awful but it's fun to

Shout Aphorisms Online!
posted by Mister_A at 5:26 PM on January 1, 2013


!!! VOTE RON PAUL !!!
posted by Nomyte at 5:44 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:45 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


BE MORE LIKE THE WHELK!
posted by crossoverman at 5:54 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is some sound advice in there. But aren't 1 and 24 both basically saying the same thing, variations on "KEEP WORKING HARD TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER"?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:00 PM on January 1, 2013


STOP WANTING TO PUNCH THE AUTHOR IN THE FACE AND WRITE SOMETHING.
posted by xingcat at 6:12 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


BE MORE LIKE THE WHELK!


BUY MORE TWEED

DRINK MORE BEER

DELVEOPE MORE UNHEALTHY FIXAIONS ON CHRIS EVANS
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


NEXT TIME YOU GO TO GUY FIERI'S FIRE-ENGINE HOT MIDTOWN STEAMED ADJECTIVE-STREWN FLAVORTOWN YA NEED TO FUCKIN' BRING CHUCK FUCKIN' WENDIG THE FUCK ON UP IN THERE!
posted by Mister_A at 6:29 PM on January 1, 2013


Hate the author of this article! Understand that he wrote this article! Reflect on what you wrote while he was writing this article! Was it nothing?

...it was nothing, wasn't it
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:52 PM on January 1, 2013


NOT REALLY I DISCOVERED PROTO FOLKLORE MOTIF VIA A TOUR OF LOTS OF OLD CHURCHES THAT I I CAN TOTALLY USE TO TIE TOGETHER THE BIG THREE PLOT THREADS I GOT PLANNED AND IM NOT REALLY WRITING THIS WEEK OR NEXT CAUSE IM ON VACATION SO STUFF THAT COMES UP UNEXOECTEDLY IS REALLY FUN WHOOOOO
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh and cause I'm shooting a video the day I get back so I'm trying not to think too much about like, all the other stuff I could be doing cause that will require like, patience and I will be super jet lagged.
posted by The Whelk at 7:01 PM on January 1, 2013


The important thing to remember about writing advice like this--and there's sheds of it out there--is that a lot of the time it's not for the reader's benefit, it's for the writer's. These blog posts usually aren't inspirational as much as they're aspirational. I'll give Wendig the benefit of the doubt, but usually whenever I see macho odes to writerly productivity, I see a writer who just spent the afternoon on Tumblr and now they're yelling to the world what they're really yelling at themselves.

Because the problem with this sort of advice is that you can either already do it, in which case you don't need the advice, or you can't do it yet and all the "write like a motherfucker"s in the world aren't going to change that.

The only way to become a great writer is to write consistently, and the only way to do that is to start small enough that you can do it everyday. But for whatever reason--and believe me, I'm guilty of this as much as anyone--grand romantic gestures are always more appealing than steady incremental changes.

Last year, as a gentle rejoinder to both this sort of blog post and NaNoWriMo, I posted a short and simple guide to creating a daily writing habit. I talked about how, after a solid decade of feeling like a fuckup because none of my doomed all-in attempts to become a passionate incandescent writer ever worked out, I slowly found a way to become a more consistent writer.

However, considering the popularity of Wendig's post and all the others just like it, maybe more people would listen if I kept the "slow and steady incremental changes" message but made it sound more like a lame impression of Alec Baldwin's Glengarry Glen Ross scene:

"What are we talking about, book deals? You're grabbing your nuts bellyaching cuz some mom in Utah got a couple mil for a dystopian trilogy about vampires and teen wizards cockteasing each other? Who gives a shit, pal, because you know what the difference is between her book and yours? Hers fucking exists and yours is just something you daydream about on your daily dump. And hers doesn't exist because she wrote a bunch of bullshit about how intense she is, and it doesn't exist because she stealthbragged on Twitter about writing 10,000 words, and it doesn't exist because she hung out on AbsoluteWank perfecting her query letter. It exists because she sat down at her fucking Rooms To Go desk and did a little bit of work every goddamn day until she was done. She worked, you didn't, she has a book, you've got your dick in your hand talking about how you stayed up all night writing three months ago. And there are a hell of a lot more where she came from, and more every year, and each of them is writing a couple thousand words five days a week and keeping your sorry ass off the shelf..."
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:17 PM on January 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


I mostly can't deal with the tone of the article because it's a writerly tone that I associate with people who are incredibly horrible and annoying and take Fight Club too seriously and want to be Spider Jerusalem from Transmet which is impossible because no one is, not even Warren Ellis, in no small part because if Spider Jerusalem or Tyler Durden or whoever were real people no one could stand to be in the same room with them. But I certainly would endorse its message.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:31 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's the same info in a more neutral tone:

1. Aim for the sublime.
2. Include purpose and meaning in your writing.
3. Focus on character. Make your characters human.
4. Write about something you're afraid of.
5. In each piece, create a meaningful case for a particular standpoint, whether you believe in that standpoint or not.
6. Use your writing to explore something you don't know.
7. Emotions are good. Harness your emotions to power your writing. Don't blow your passion on trivialities or distractions.
8. Ignore the critics, whether professional or personal.
9. Read stuff you normally wouldn't.
10. Educate yourself -- read more, do more.
11. And by do more, engage yourself in new experiences. Those of us who read and write see life through many filters. Experiencing more helps us lose those filters.
12. Seek out discomfort.
13. Don't be afraid to invent/cross genres, seek out different publishing routes, or break new ground.
14. Simplify. Drop distractions like videogames or internet timesucks.
15. Keep yourself healthy.
16. Be yourself.
17. Your best intended audience is YOU. Write what you would like to read.
18. Don't envy the successes of others. Find inspiration in their successes.
19. Forge friendships with other creative people.
20. Shift your focus to your own work, not on consuming the works of others.
21. No one's going to publish you unless you're prepared to fight for your work. You are ultimately responsible for your own success.
22. The best time to start is NOW.
23. Forgive yourself if you mess up.
24. See #1
25. Only you know your best process, your best work, and your best potential.
26. Write, write, write, and keep writing.
posted by mochapickle at 7:42 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Could you just maybe 'motherfucker' that list up a bit, mochapickle?
posted by Mister_A at 7:45 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am fresh out of motherfucker, yo.
posted by mochapickle at 7:46 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by Mister_A at 7:47 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, even without the tone, I find the list either vague and self-involved or obvious and redundant.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:29 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Write, writer, write.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:52 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hell, I get a lot of good ideas of things to write about from Metafilter.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:04 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if you want to actually get paid to write, telling other people how to write isn't the worst way to go about it.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:05 PM on January 1, 2013


Write, writer, write.

Write, writer, writest.
posted by crossoverman at 10:13 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess follow Wendig's advice if you want to be awesome at writing excruciatingly long lists that are somehow really boring despite all the expletives.
posted by mean cheez at 6:09 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unreadable.


Write, writer, write.

Write, writer, writest.


[NOT WRITE-IST]
posted by Herodios at 6:14 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every time I read one of these lists of Things That Writers Should Do, I feel like a lazy procrastinator.

This may be because I am a lazy procrastinator. Or it may be because (for me at least) writing requires approaching the task with a sense of play. When I try to introduce my work ethic into the process, the creative bits of my brain run away and hide.

I've found the following quotation relevant (it's from Charlie Brooker): "To function efficiently as a writer, 95% of your brain has to teleport off into nowhere, taking its neuroses with it, leaving the confident, playful 5% alone to operate the controls."
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:43 AM on January 2, 2013


"To function efficiently as a writer, 95% of your brain has to teleport off into nowhere, taking its neuroses with it, leaving the confident, playful 5% alone to operate the controls."

Exactly! (That's what Peggle is for.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:02 AM on January 2, 2013


26. Write something worthwhile instead of trendy link-bait on the web.
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Grand romantic gestures are always more appealing than steady incremental changes
posted by Faintdreams at 8:30 AM on January 2, 2013


Was that diictated by someone high on cocaine?

Yeah, I sorta hated it. A lot. For purely subjective reasons, I suppose, but the one thing I've learned from the wide spectrum of writers I've encountered is don't listen to anyone else. Write your own story the way you want to. Finding your own "voice" is the challenge (imo).

This is just the standard writing pep talk of saying "just do it." I'd suggest finding your own way (or working with close collaborators).

There is some sound advice in there. But aren't 1 and 24 both basically saying the same thing, variations on "KEEP WORKING HARD TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER"? ...

Aside from the odd aside of "stop pooping in the temple" (I can't figure out how that's related to writing specifically), 1-25 are essentially the same old motivational BS.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:59 AM on January 2, 2013


I think the "stop pooping in the temple" bit is related to the "go outside and do things/learn things" line - your life as a writer is, you know, your life, and can't be separated from it, so you need to maintain your health and your friendships and your knowledge base and everything as well as reaching for the sublime or farting rainbows or whatever. It's not a bad thought, however badly presented.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:22 PM on January 2, 2013


Dear internet,

Swearing does not make you edgy.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:37 PM on January 2, 2013



Hate the author of this article! Understand that he wrote this article! Reflect on what you wrote while he was writing this article! Was it nothing?

...it was nothing, wasn't it
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:52 PM on January 1 [+] [!]


If it took him longer than ten minutes to write, it took too long.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:39 PM on January 2, 2013


On the one hand, I'm not thrilled by this writing - story tendrils winding around earthen hearts? - on the other, it's a fresh expression of many things artists should be aware of.

The "bastards" in the box, I first read about in The Artist's Way. There, they were referred to as "Crazy Makers"

These things are always helpful to read from time-to-time, but a lot of this one is a bit too scatalogical for my tastes. (The Mathew Inman school of motivational writing)

Always a way forward that you don’t hate. Find that path through. You’ll feel better for it.

That's a good one.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2013


Hey look, Charlie Sheen rented Trainspotting recently!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:34 PM on January 2, 2013


Obligatory link to interview with (imo) greatest writer on "how" to write:

Goldberg: I consider writing an athletic activity: the more you practice, the better you get at it. The reason you keep your hand moving is because there’s often a conflict between the editor and the creator. The editor is always on our shoulder saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t write that. It’s no good.” But when you have to keep the hand moving, it’s an opportunity for the creator to have a say. All the other rules of writing practice support that primary rule of keeping your hand moving. The goal is to allow the written word to connect with your original mind, to write down the first thought you flash on, before the second and third thoughts come in.

Zeiger: Why?

Goldberg: Because that’s where the energy is. That’s where the alive, fresh vision is, before society, which we’ve internalized, takes over and teaches us to be polite and censor ourselves. Another way of putting it is that you need to trust what intuitively comes through you, rather than what you think you should be writing. What comes through you arises from a much larger place than that of the editor, the critic, or society.

Zeiger: What is that place, and how does it differ from the traditional view of the muse?

Goldberg: I call that place “wild mind.” Wild mind isn’t just your mind; it’s the whole world moving through you. With it, you give voice to a very large life, even though you might only be talking about your grandmother’s closet with its particular wallpaper and floor. It’s an awareness of everything through one thing.

When we think of the muse visiting, we think of something coming down from on high and helping us. Wild mind is available to everyone; you don’t have to seduce it to get it to come to you. When I think of wild mind, I think, Big sky. Usually we put a black dot in the sky and pay attention to just that dot: I don’t like myself, or I’m unhappy. With wild mind, you live with the whole sky. It’s very different from the idea of a muse, which is something outside yourself that appears and magically helps you.


"Keep the Hand Moving" (yes, that's what she said)

Steven King wrote a pretty good book too. Condensed into 7 Tips, of which you could chop 1-5, imo.

1. Read a lot
2. Write a lot

Hey, you're a writer.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:58 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the super secret resolution should be "Edit and Rewrite". I think that would have helped the overall tone of this article. Because, dude, writing a barrage of dick jokes isn't for everyone.

William Faulkner once said something like "kill your darlings" in regard to how writers should edit their own work. This article has a grip of darlings.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 4:08 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


>I think the super secret resolution should be "Edit and Rewrite".

I once sent a 1200 word article to my editor, I wrote it in about an hour, almost stream of consciousness with minimal editing, so I could send it in as an early first draft. I got an email back, he said thanks, I'm running it. I said woah this is barely a first draft, I expected you to cut it to shreds and give me something to fix. He said no, you show me anything that could be fixed. I took this as a personal challenge, I spent several hours over 2 days trying to edit it and I changed only one word. In response, I got a stern note about being a perfectionist, and the meaning of "good enough."
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:40 AM on January 4, 2013


I've been doing some freelance work for an agency with a huge, high-powered client. The last 3 assignments they've asked for zero revisions! They keep coming back so obviously they like something I'm doing - apparently they have only made minor technical edits (so-and-so is now actually called whatnot, stuff like that).

It freaks me out on the one hand that no one is asking me to revise but also makes me feel pretty darn good as a professional that my first drafts of work for a Fortune 50 client are going through pretty much as is.

It also throws into stark relief the situation at my full-time gig where our account team suits want to massage everything into mush before showing to clients. Sometimes people just don't like the taste of the soup 'til they've peed in it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on January 4, 2013


Sometimes people just don't like the taste of the soup 'til they've peed in it.

Ugh, those people. I had a job once where the CEO - the CEO! - felt she needed to copyedit everything I wrote. It wouldn't bother me so much except she was such a terrible writer we had to conduct impromptu break-room meetings every time she sent an email to figure out what the hell she meant.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:48 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once sent a 1200 word article to my editor ...

I've been doing some freelance work ...


Anything that has a deadline attached to it erases any need for a line edit. Run spell-check, double-check the unique terms, look for modifier/agreement/incongruity errors, and POST. ;P
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on January 4, 2013


mrgrimm, but I'm a fucking professional wordsmith, flying high on batmonkey cocaine prose, man! I needs me some revisions!
posted by Mister_A at 1:04 PM on January 4, 2013


10 New Years Resolutions That Every Writer Should Break (and 5 They Shouldn't)
posted by Artw at 3:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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