Writers: You Might Be Doing It Wrong If…


If you think of yourself as “aspiring,” you might be doing it wrong.

If you’re more interested in a book’s metadata than its theme, you might be doing it wrong.

If you’re more concerned about publishing the book than writing it, you might be doing it wrong.

If you talk, tweet, think or write about writing more than you actually write: doin’ it wrong.

If you always find an excuse why you’re not writing, then UR DOIN’ IT RONG.

If your writing life is filled with the blubbery carcasses of unfinished manuscripts lying about like dynamite-exploded whales and you’ve never finished a story, you’re doing it wrong, hoss.

If you keep cheating on your current manuscript by porking other, momentarily-sexier manuscripts behind the barn, yep, that’s some wrong-flavored wrongness with hot wrong sauce.

If you’d rather play video games or watch movies or masturbate to at twerking videos on Tumblr — in other words, if you’d rather be doing anything else but writing — you’re doing it wrong.

If you think that there’s one way up the mountain — and that you or someone else is the magical sherpa who will guide you up that mountain — oh yeah, you’re doing it wrong.

If you self-publish because you’re bitter at the traditional publishing establishment and not because of the very many valid reasons for self-publishing, you’re doing it wrong.

If you think any kind of publishing is a get-rich-quick-scheme lottery-ticket: YOU WRONG.

If you think writers or other artists shouldn’t get paid: YOU DOUBLE WRONG.

If you think you don’t need an editor: you are Mister Wrongyfaced Wrongypants, Esquire.

If you’ve inhaled the aerosolized horseshit and buy into the divide between literary and genre fiction, BZZT, that’s some wrong-ass shit, chief.

If you believe in any of the tribal breakdowns in writing and publishing (trad-pub versus self-pub, Amazon is god or Amazon is the devil, women don’t write as well as men), then let me spell it out with these Scrabble tiles, here… D O I N I T W R O N G

If you can’t make us care about your characters… drum roll please, doin’ it wrong.

If you’re not willing to try new things in writing — new characters, new POVs, new plotting or planning styles, new something, new anything — then you sure ain’t right.

If you rely on magical thinking and it hurts you more than it helps you: du machst es falsch!

If you let writer’s block win, you got it all wrong.

If you’re a writer who doesn’t read, ooh, holy shitkittens, you’re super-mega-ultra-wrong.

If you’re a writer who only reads for pleasure, who never reads non-fiction, who refuses to read outside a single beloved genre or medium, yeah, you’re probably pretty wrong over there.

If you hate bookstores, you’re Mayor Wrongdong of Wronglesburg, Population: YOU.

If you’re an asshole to your audience, you’re BIG SUPER CRAZY FACE WRONG.

If you spend a lot of your time getting into fights on the Internet, you’re a big bucket of wrong.

If you don’t like writing and yet you persist at being a writer: wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you’re not writing, then you’re motherfucking wrong.

So get right — and go write.


131 responses to “Writers: You Might Be Doing It Wrong If…”

  1. “If you’re not willing to try new things in writing — new characters, new POVs, new plotting or planning styles, new something, new anything — then you sure ain’t right.”

    And, on the punching hand, don’t be too eager to chuck out what works for shiny new playthings. Change is good, just don’t change into something crappy.

    “If you think writers or other artists shouldn’t get paid: YOU DOUBLE WRONG.”

    This, a hojillion times, this. The idea that creators shouldn’t be paid is what drove me screaming from the field of RPG writing into the much more glamorous, rewarding world of fiction wri-

    Shit. Am I doing it wrong?

  2. Shit, I’m doing it wrong….*avoids making eye contact with blubbery, half-finished books flopping on floor behind me.

    Honestly, when I finish my book, you are totally getting a big thank you in the acknowledgements.

  3. Usually I’m not a fan of “this is the wrong way to go about it” posts when it comes to something as subjective as writing, but this is spot on.

  4. I love this so hard. And I am probably in some ways doing it wrong, but in others I’m doing it right. So there’s hope. So I will go continue my manuscript when I get home from walking today. Or can I write while I walk? or while I read? Hmmm.

  5. Usually, before you do it right you do it wrong. The trick is to eventually move forward to doing it right. I am happy that I can pretty much say I have moved past most of the wrongs listed here and am striving to do better the few I am still stuck on.
    I am just so glad that “you can’t figure out those stupid comma rules to save your life” wasn’t on the list. Thank goodness I am golden with the one about editors…

  6. I want to wallpaper this post all over my room. I, unfortunately, am doing it wrong. But now I can clearly see exactly what and do something to fix it.

    Also: Wallpaper. Your blog. Look into it. I think there’s a market for that.

  7. I would like to take a moment to inform you and your readers that my book, independently published and available everywhere, was actually written by J.K. Rowling. I only agreed to this as a favor to her as she was loathe to “put herself out there” with such a deeply meaningful cross genre piece of literature, fearing that it would immediately generate critical reviews from Potter fanatics. Was this, as you say, wrong?

  8. Well, nice to know I’m doing some things right at least … rash assumption here … assuming that doing the opposite of your list is “doing it right”. Laughed out loud reading this.

  9. Hey, what does “metadata” mean in this context? I’m always looking for new ways to do writing wrong.

  10. Holy shitkittens is my new favourite expression of all time. (I’m not writing but it’s under protest because I’m packing to move house. So it’s a qualified wrong.)

  11. “If you don’t like writing and yet you persist at being a writer: wrong, wrong, wrong.”

    Don’t know that I agree 100% about this one, Chuck. After all, as Dorothy Parker is supposed to have said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” 😉

    However, there has to be something that drives you to the process, even if the process itself feels like sitting at your typewriter and opening a vein (yeah, paraphrased that one from Hemmingway…).

  12. “If you believe in any of the tribal breakdowns in writing and publishing (trad-pub versus self-pub, Amazon is god or Amazon is the devil, women don’t write as well as men), then let me spell it out with these Scrabble tiles, here… D O I N I T W R O N G”

    YES.

  13. I’m gonna choke down a fat slice of shame here and admit that more than just a couple of these applied to me. I won’t say which. I did stop telling people about “this project I’m working on” a long time ago. What began to happen was everybody who actually seemed genuinely interested were people who wanted to talk endlessly about what ‘they’ were writing. I super-hated listening to them talk about their works in progress because you knew they were talking about nothing more than an idea they thought was cool. I hated it most, because it was exactly what I was doing. I knew I looked and sounded just like them. That’s when I discovered that the amount of talking about a book-in-progress that a person does is almost directly proportionate to how little work that person has put into it.

  14. […] that you must read in order to write. Chuck Wendig’s version of this amused me recently in his “Writers: You Might Be Doing it Wrong if…” post. “If you’re a writer who doesn’t read, ooh, holy shitkittens, you’re […]

  15. Oh how marvelous! But giving into the writer’s block…Isn’t that part of EVERY writer’s life at one point or another? So maybe that is a ‘qualified’ if leaving it there for years on end…kinda wrong!

  16. […] You Might Not Be a Writer If… We hear so often that “to call yourself a writer, all you have to do is write.” Aww. But, the flip side to that feel-good pat on the back is that if you’re not writing, maybe you’re not a fucking writer. If you have to trick your mind into being ready to write, maybe your mind doesn’t want to write. If the words don’t come to you, maybe you have nothing to say. If anything else in your life is holding you back from progressing as a writer, maybe you don’t actually care about that goal. From Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds: […]

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