Top Five Ways to Sideline your Writing Career

kidmess115. Ignore Critiques

Don’t listen to the haters. Anyone who says anything negative about your writing is clearly jealous of your potential success. Chances are you know more about writing than they do, and besides, you know what you’re trying to say and how you want to say it. Anyone who gives you suggestions is probably trying to undermine you and cut your work down. Along the same lines, don’t bother with a professional editor. If you can’t make it perfect on your own, then you don’t deserve to be writing anyway. Go with your gut and make your own decisions, and ignore the input of critique partners, beta readers, and editors.

4. Don’t Put Things Away

If your office space and home are cluttered, you can effectively busy yourself with tidying and organizing endlessly so you never have to worry about squeezing in time for writing. The key to this is to not have places for everything and to not put things away immediately after you use/buy them. Stack paperwork on counters, dishes in the sink, and so on. You can very quickly compile endless stacks of things that you need to go through before you can sit down and write.

3. Don’t carve out time for your writing

Writing should be fluid, as the mood and inspiration strike. If you have a set time to sit down and work or if you have a word count goal, you’ll stifle your creativity. Don’t punish yourself for not writing by not allowing yourself to do something else you want to do until you’ve completed a goal. Goals and strict rules about writing time will put too much emphasis on results rather than giving you the freedom to enjoy the process. Writing should be more  like a hobby and less like a job, so only do it if you really feel like it and if you have nothing better to do.

2. Don’t Prioritize

Don’t make lists or organize your time into what needs to be done first. You’ll be far more effective if you do a little here and a little there and flit around from one project to the next. That way, you’ll have made progress on half a dozen things instead of just one. It’s less important to complete any one thing than to keep working at everything at once. Also, the more you have going on, the more you can brag about how much you have going on so people empathize with you and are more understanding of why you make so little progress on your writing.

1. Have Lots of Kids

The most effective way I’ve found to sideline a writing career is by making something else the number one thing in your life. Ideally, this should be something that can’t be put aside easily, like a day job that pays the bills or lots of children. Children are great, because between the diapers and the potty training and the schooling and the hormones, you have eighteen years of things that need your immediate attention. Moreover, the more you have, the more time and effort they take. Plus, they require constant maintenance. Feeding them and cleaning up after them will take up so many hours that your available time to devote to writing will be severely limited.




About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

11 comments on “Top Five Ways to Sideline your Writing Career

  1. Somehow, I think #1 just might be closest to home and heart for you. More truth than poetry or irony in that one. 🙂

    • It is, and it’s frustrating a lot of days, which is one of the main reasons to make light of it in a blog post. 🙂

  2. Yeah, what John said. Praying for you, Avily! Keep the long view. Our lives have seasons, and as difficult as it can be to see years slipping through our fingers as our children keep us too busy to write… I choose to believe that He will be faithful to complete the good work He began in us. Including the stories He put there for us to write.

    I’ve often considered dropping writing entirely until my kids are older (and I only have two! I know it’s even more challenging for moms with more!), but have chosen to keep writing when I can, even if it feels like a snail’s pace. Whatever works for you, just keep the faith alive. *hugs*

  3. I often wish I had done more of #1, especially now that my boy is grown up and moved out (mostly — I still have his Xbox Rock Band drum kit, among other things). Enjoy those little ones while you can!

  4. Well done.

    Regarding # 5 — You are correct. As the Klingons say, “Only a fool fights in a burning house,” and only a foolish person refuses to receive instruction. Proverbs is replete with that scriptural wisdom. That being said, I’d cautiously add a #5.5 — listening to EVERY critique, everyone else’s voice but yours. Listen to everyone, and before long YOUR voice disappears. Criticism, even well-intended, always needs to be weighed in the balance. That can derail YOUR writing just as speedily as the supercilious attitude you describe.

    • The trick is that some of us are more vulnerable, or so I believe, to 5.5 than others. For example, we may have a “good-parental” voice in our heads saying our work is worthy and valuable *individually, only to be counterbalanced by a “critical-parental” voice which says, “What will other people think of it?” because it might not conform to their *group values. I know that’s always been true of me.

      I can think of a worse example: not Good Parent/Bad Parent, but Hero/Villain, in dealing with that issue internally: Superman saying it’s good, Darkseid saying it’s bad. Some people I know are like that inside. Interestingly, a lot of their ilk write some of the greatest literature and create some of the greatest art of other kinds. Maybe it’s because the art is forged in a hotter furnace…

    • Yeah, going it totally alone and never giving any serious consideration to critiques/negative feedback will at minimum stunt our growth as authors, if it manages to fail to kill our careers, but the opposite error can sideline us, too, keep us paralyzed until we listen to our detractors and quit or keep us going in circles while editing our work to death. We need to keep things in perspective and in balance. It’s important for each of us to know which error we’re individually most vulnerable to and avoid it without going to the opposite extreme.

  5. Indeed. Thus the value of a trusted critique partner or editor. But that’s a different post. 🙂

  6. Number 3 is my golden rule, write when you want to, write for yourself, and if you don’t like writing ,don’t do it! Great post!

    • I love to write. Not so much with the revising and editing. If I were just writing to write I could do it all day, but I want to improve and share my work, so the parts I don’t like so much are necessary, and those are the ones I have to force myself to sit down and do.

  7. Heh, I think the idea was to say *not to make that one’s authorial Golden Rule. 🙂 By design some of us are goal-oriented and some process-oriented (I’m the second and I suspect you are too), but neither preference should be used as a pretext to do what will work against our best authorial interests anyway. There is a place for fluidity and a place for rigor.

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