12 Ways to Fail as a Writer

If you should like to spend hours upon countless hours writing a manuscript no one will ever touch, printing a book no one will ever desire to read, or building a career that will be as productive as mucking stalls on a cow farm…

Perhaps this list might be of service to you:

  1. Never take the time to read. And—heaven forbid if you should read—make certain it is something to which you are accustomed to. How silly to read a book from an author you’ve never heard of!
  2. Procrastinate when it comes to writing your novel. Write as little as possible and only when you feel like doing so.
  3. Please, oh please, don’t do any research. What sort of chap would really wish to pour over articles, jot down notes, and read related books—simply to assure accuracy? Preposterous.
  4. Clog your imagination. Why give yourself time to dream of characters when watching a movie would entertain more easily?
  5. Wing your plots, friend. That’s a big one. Outlines are for the birds.
  6. Lash out in rage at every person who criticizes your work. What do editors really know about it anyway?
  7. Mess up your POV as much as you can, end your sentences with exclamation points, don’t kill your darlings, and tell-not-show. That’s the way to do it.
  8. Brag about how many books you’re working on, but don’t finish any of them. It’s the thought that counts, right?
  9. Never, never, never go to a writers conference. You might actually have to talk to someone.
  10. Never market yourself.
  11. And what’s a target audience? Oh well. Hard to tell.
  12. Above all, if you can’t fail in any other way, at least skip your proofreading. Submit to as many agents as you can…but definitely avoid the dreaded red pen. It’s stupid and takes way too much effort.

Hannah Linder is a Christian fiction author, graphic designer, and photographer.


  • Lila Diller

    I happen to disagree with a couple of these, #2 and #4, especially. And I have other writer friends who are fantastic at #5. Just because someone doesn’t follow the same writing process you do doesn’t mean that they will never finish writing a book. I’ve finished and published three, but I don’t follow all of these. Please try to keep in mind that these are only what works for you.

  • Rita Gerlach

    This list is one of the best I’ve read on how to fail as a writer. Hannah, you are wiser than your years. Here’s a few things I took away from your post. If you don’t stoke the fire, if you don’t add some kindling, the fire will go out. Procrastination can kill a writing career. It puts the fire out…if a person had it to begin with. A true writer loves to write and it is like a fire in the soul. Regarding research. So true and it is a must if you want to write a story readers will love. Regarding ‘winging it’. I get it. You’re not saying not to be a pantser, but do not be a writer who has no direction. You have to know who, what, and where you are going with a story.
    So, Ms. Diller, I have to disagree with you. Hannah’s list is what any experienced author recognizes as a means of failure.

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