12 Steps To Brilliant Writing

Ernest and Pauline Hemingway, Paris, 1927
For most people, writing is a bad cocktail mixed in a slapdash manner: two parts nagging anxiety, shaken with one part frightened procrastination. Fear not. Being a very important writer of enormous acclaim, I can help you with my simple twelve step process.

1. Rejoice: a new project has been assigned to you.

2. After jotting down some brief notes, tell all of your friends about your opportunity and your ideas for it. Celebrate that night over drinks, talking about how your life will finally change for the better, just as soon as your project is published.

3. Wake up with a hangover. Run a few errands before sitting down to flesh out your ideas. You have most of it figured out already, after all. There’s no need to rush.

4. You’ll soon realize that you greatly underestimated the amount of work involved. You can’t possibly finish it in time. Panic. Pace your room, sweating. Call your friends asking for advice. You’ll wish you wrote things down on bar napkins. “What was that one hilarious thing I was saying last night?” They won’t remember, because they don’t want you to succeed.

5. Seek and then shoot down any encouraging advice provided to you by others. All of your creative energy at this point should be focused at logically establishing your ineptitude and inevitable failure.

6. Take a break from your hard work to binge on junk food while streaming internet television.

7. Take a shower. Hold your head under the hot stream of water and curse your more successful but less deserving acquaintances.

8. Check your email, then your Twitter feed, and then your Facebook feed. One of your friends from High School – probably that pompous ass, Chris Withers – will post about his “great time” with the “love of his life,” “Amy.” Fuck you, Chris Withers, you fat talentless slob.

9. Start working again, and get a flash of brilliance. Drink a few cups of coffee. You’ll be okay.

10. Finish in a few hours. Celebrate with drinks that night.

11. Read it the next morning. It’s awful! Return to #4 for a few more laps.

12. Hand in whatever draft you have on hand, regardless of quality, five minutes after your deadline. Be resigned to the fact that you’ll remain a hack writer, limited to jotting snarky lists on the internet. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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