Professional Advice from a Very Professional Writer (A.K.A. How I Write – a drunken, violent, yelling-filled guide to the aspiring writer).
As the tremendously successful author of such instant classics as the erotic thriller Death By Sexting, the time traveling love story Moonwalking with Jesus and the moving WWII childrens’ book, There are No Ponies at Aushwitz, I know a little something about writing books. To achieve this level of rarified success I developed a very specific routine for when I decide it’s time to write. I find routine helps trigger the “artist’s mentality” in one’s brain. I’ve transcribed the lecture I normally give on this subject alone in my bedroom and offer you the text version here.
I begin my routine early, ‘round 5am. It’s the early bird that catches the massive book deal and multi-media royalties package plus international rights. After rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I sit at my massive writing desk hewn as a single piece from a 150-year-old oak I felled myself. You see, this was the tree under which my (original) wife and I first met. This tree held a lot of sentimental value to me, which is why I killed it and now write on its dead hide. That wife and I are no longer married, but true to our first meeting under that mighty oak, I still keep her under the desk. The best desks are carved from the mightiest of trees. They also have some nice desks at IKEA.
Once I’ve reached the desk, I sharpen every pencil I own to a point of .0056 mm (I measure this with a vernier caliper. You want to be a writer? You better get yourself a caliper!).
I set everything on the desk, the calendar, my mug of tea, etc at a perfect 90 degree angle with a T-bevel (once again, you want to be a writer? Get one.) Then I write a couple of letters to the Black Entertainment Network regarding my daily report of what I found “minstrely” on their network. I take a sip of tea, now perfectly cooled, and look down at my legal pad. Then I begin yelling. I yell at the legal pad until the words of my next blockbuster novel appear on it.
After two or so hours of yelling, I look up to the “Hang in There Kitty!” poster I keep for inspiration above my desk. “Yes,” I tell myself, “you hang in there kitty.” I think the kitty represents the inner resolve within all of us and I believe “hangin’ in there” represents writing New York Times bestselling novels. Of course, your “hanging in there” may differ from mine. Perhaps your “hanging in there” is more prosaic. Like assembling a rather good ham sandwich or resisting the urge to stalk your ex-girlfriend on Facebook for an entire day. Whatever your “hanging in there” may be, I think we can all learn a lot from this brave cat.
(I do realize there is a certain contradiction in choosing this hanging kitty as my mascot of endurance as the poster is very old and the cat on it is most certainly dead by now, having endured a cruel lifetime of hanging outside that photographer’s window – but don’t tell my inspiration that!)
When the legal pad resists conjuring the words, I shame it, chide it, even use passive aggression on it (“it must be nice to be such a distinct color of yellow. If I’m not mistaken, that is the color of cowardice, yes?”). If the pad still resists, I give it the cold shoulder treatment. We don’t talk for a half hour or so. If I’m feeling particularly vindictive, I’ll stoke its jealousy by parading about with another, newer legal pad, gallivanting about my writer’s room and acting like I’m having the time of my life.
(Laughing as though the new legal pad just told a hilarious joke)
“Oh new legal pad, you’re funny! You always know how to make me laugh. With you I feel so young!”
If all else fails, I finally pick up a pencil and get to writing. And by “writing” I mean I repeatedly stab the pad until it creates the words. After all, its paper–a substance over which man holds complete dominion. We made the paper by pulverizing trees with our claws and fangs, it should obey our commands. Are you gonna let some measly tree pulp tell you that you can’t be a writer? Than get out of the writing kitchen, because it’s too hot for you!
You see, life is all about seizing opportunity. For example what a boon it must have been for that “Hang in There Kitty!” photographer to awake one day to find the symbol of hope and motivation for an entire generation symbolically clutching for dear life just outside his bathroom window! This is what I am talking about with seizing opportunity. Some people in this situation might see a desperate animal and try to help, while those of us more attuned to seeing the breaks life throws us can practically smell the novelty calendar.
After all the stabbing, if words still fail to appear I return to my muse: alcohol. I usually keep a fifth of spiced rum in my writing lair. Here’s a tip, I spice the rum myself by taking regular rum and adding whatever spices happen to dwell in my spice rack at the moment: sage, thyme, nutmeg, what have you. What, did you think I buy the “pre-spiced” rum? I’m an internationally beloved author, not a steel baron!
How much muse is enough muse? That’s particular to each individual writer, but as a rule of thumb I find once I start “losing time” the creative pump is adequately primed. What happens next is the magic of the craft. No writer can truly tell you what happens once they “get into the zone” but I can tell you I usually wake up in just my underwear, slick with cold sweat and shivering under my writer’s cot. My fists clutching tight around a glow wand and a wad of lottery tickets. When I stumble over to my writing desk I find the next, award winning chapter of my book waiting. Resplendent in my success, I spend the rest of the day on the Internet spreading slutty rumors about Maya Angelou, just like Hemingway used to do.
Now let’s figure out what kind of book you’re going to write.
How to Write the Next Twilight, Stephen King Book or Critically Acclaimed Novel
Everyone wants to write the next blockbuster book series. And it’s easy to see why: authors such as Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown have proven all it takes is a fifth-grade reading level and an utter contempt for your audience to hit pay dirt. So let’s get started, and by “started” I don’t mean enroll in a prestigious creative writing institution. Writers are doers, not learners. If college was for people who do things they’d call it “Do-llege.” You don’t need college. All you need are these simple tips:
How to Write a Book for Girls (Or Women Who Were Once Girls)
The thing women love most is magic. The magic of new romance, the magic of love, the magic of undying devotion. So think of the most magical, romantic thing you can. Now ask yourself:
* Is it a supernatural creature?
* Does it sparkle in the sunlight?
* Does it live forever?
The answer to all of these should be “yes,” which leads you to just one conclusion: unicorns! Now create your narrative about a young girl’s blossoming but forbidden love for her unicorn. If your book series succeeds three books, your protagonists are inevitably going to have to make love. If you think a sexual affair between a girl and a unicorn is a tad creepy, change the unicorn to a Sasquatch, Minotaur, vampire or whatever.
How to Write a Stephen King Blockbuster
1. Close your eyes.
2. Now open them. What’s the first thing you see? A toaster? That’s perfect. Now it’s a haunted toaster.
3. Include some kind of subtext on the evils of religious fanaticism. Perhaps an evil cult worships the haunted toaster.
4. Now just riff for about 500 pages. We’re making a big book here because big books are important books. Perhaps your heroes can go on a quest to throw the cursed toaster in a volcano. Make sure to document every single mundane detail along the way. Develop 39 new ways to describe dirt. We’ve got pages to fill.
5. Include a cameo with a character from another book, people love that shit.
6. Kill someone, but no kids or dogs. People hate that shit.
7. Remember, everything evil happens in New England. If you want to write a story about haunted toasters that takes place in Canada, go piss off.
How to Write an Acclaimed Cormac McCarthy Novel
1. Is there such a thing as absolute evil without a shade of gray? You bet!
2. Spend 1,000 pages discussing how kids these days just ain’t got no respect.
3. When in doubt, have someone eat a baby.
4. Cut out the scene with the jet boat race. Also the wisecracking black sidekick. You’ll have to find another way to incorporate the catch phrase, “This shit is whack!”
5. Create whole new definitions for bleak. While writing your book, imagine your reader sinking into the grimness of your narrative. When you hear a click, that’s the sound of the reader cocking a gun to their head. Congrats, you’re ready for press.
6. Remember, your protagonist represents the only light of goodness in a horrifying, chaotic world. You’ll probably want to kill them before book’s end.
NEXT: What’s the Best Selling Book of all time? The Bible. Learn book selling secrets from the page-turning master, God.