How To Fail As A Writer In 23 Easy Steps

cartoon graphic of a writer in distress

Want to be certain your writing career never leaves the ground? These 23 tips will help you stave off success and fail as a writer!

To ensure you fail as a writer:

1. Don’t worry too much about your opening line. Readers will soon be past it and into the good stuff.

2. Don’t be concerned that your ending goes off with a fizzle. The rest of the book was worth the price of admission.

3. Don’t worry about typos and grammatical errors. Trivial details won’t bother veteran readers.

4. Go with your first complete draft as your final draft. Your gut instincts were correct the first time around, you’ll just dilute them when you edit.

5. Only write when the urge hits you. If you need discipline to write, it’s not really writing.

6. Do not exercise, enjoy hobbies, or have any kind of life outside of writing . Any minute spent doing something else is time down the drain.

7. Sleep as little as possible. Sleep deprivation will unlock your inner writing god.

8. Quit your day job immediately. Work gets in the way of your writing.

9. Be as original as possible, forget conforming to any genre expectations.

10. Ignore the belief that publishable books have structure or that you need one.

11. Leave details as ambiguous as you can. Let your readers rely on their mind-reading abilities to intuit what you really meant .

12. Make sure your readers cannot easily form mental images from your story.

13. Don’t worry about logical inconsistencies, keep your readers on their toes!

14. Do not waste time learning the craft of writing. Focus on producing lots of words – that’s what writing is all about.

15. Don’t read, not even the great authors. And especially never read other authors in your genre . Their writing might rub off on you and make yours less original.

16. Do not research your topic. Your intuition is more compelling than facts.

17. Do not ever read for other writers. Critiquing will just cloud your mind and take your focus off your own work.

18. If an editor critiques your writing, stick to your guns that it’s his fault he didn’t understand “what you really meant.”

19. If a reader gives you feedback that something in the plot seems to be missing, ignore her. Better yet, prove it’s “all there” by pointing to page 224, where three words in the middle of a paragraph at the end of the chapter “explain it all.”

20. Never back up the electronic copy of your work. It’s good for your creative juices to be in constant fear of losing your book beyond the event horizon of the cyber black hole.

21. Forget the idea of practicing any kind of writing other than your book. It’s just a distraction.

22. Do not stoop so low as to take the advice of writers who have walked the path before you. You need to find your own path in your own way.

23. Never show your writing to anyone.

I’m sure I missed a few… please add yours in the comments section!

Dawn FieldDawn Field (July 20, 1969 – May 2, 2020)
In late 2015, Dawn Field submitted a post to the BookBaby Blog. While many unsolicited submissions don’t quite meet the needs (or standards) of our readers, something about it stood out. I posted the article, and to my grateful amazement, that initial contribution flourished into a five-year collaboration resulting in over 100 posts published here. Sadly, on May 2nd, 2020, Dr. Field suddenly and tragically passed away at the age of 50. In an effort to bring some of her work back into the conversation, and with the permission of her family, we are re-publishing some of Dr. Field’s posts so a new generation of BookBaby Blog readers can experience and learn from her commitment to share what she was learning on her own journey as a writer.

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  1. Everyone is different, just as the quality of their writing is different. As an editor, I would say the key to better writing is a “crisis.” A deadline usually serves in this capacity.

  2. One of the most important ones is 3., Don’t worry about typos and grammatical errors. Ignore punctuation, let the readers understand your meaning without offering any clues.

  3. Follow the style, grammar and punctuation of comments on Facebook posts. Those are written by real people, not eggheads. Bonus points are awarded for gratuitous profanity.

  4. Attend every writer’s workshop you can. This is the best way to feel inspired, inspired and more inspired. Don’t worry about actually producing anything…it will happen when your inspiration finally reaches its peak.

  5. Those flowery tidbits of inspiration that magically come to you in the shower, in the car, on your walk, when your doing errands, or any other time besides when you’re writing, are nuggets of genius that should not be altered. Rework your entire story around that perfect line. It totally fits your character’s motivation, and that line of dialogue is totally how people talk. Besides, nothing that flows out of you that smoothly could ever be crap.

  6. Take everyone’s advice! Change and rewrite your story over and over. Only when it does not even remotely resemble your original story…it if truly finished!

  7. Wait until the very last minute to submit. The Muse might strike just before the deadline; it did once. Don’t worry about power or Internet outages or your computer going down. The editor or contest judge will understand if you need more time due to circumstances beyond your control.

  8. Always write late at night, just before bed. Scribble down those brilliant writing ideas you have just before you fall asleep because those are the real gems that the world needs to read. Your handwriting will surely be easy to decipher in the morning.

  9. 1. If your story needs to be translated, use a friend who is a teacher of the foreign language., or a family member. Don’t spend money on a professional! The same goes for finding a good editor – your mother who is an English teacher is great at discovering your spelling and grammatical errors but has no experience in the publishing world.
    2. Joining a writers’ group is a waste of time. You should be spending your time writing, not discussing your storyline, plot, character, etc.
    3. Only use price as your main focus when hiring an editor, illustrator, formatting specialist, and/or publisher.

    • I have written a dispensational Bible commentary based on the King James Bible. Most Bible editors have been mostly wrong for more than 1,900 years regarding the scriptures. So how is it that i would trust an editor?

  10. 28. Write only in the perfect place, at the perfect time, in the perfect temperature, with a glass of ice water containing 6 cubes, and with zero possibility of distraction. Only then will the genius flow from your fingertips.
    Wait for it……..

  11. I’m guilty of the last one; don’t let anyone else read my work.

    I’m not afraid of criticism.

    After working on this book for almost 30 years, I’m afraid of letting people into the world I created. It’s like my secret hideout.

    I’ve written other books and started others, too. However, they lack the passion and colors of my first work.

    I applaud all of you who are able to let go and share your work. Maybe someday…


    • Izumi I get it.

      I live in the world of my book. I don’t think I actually want it to end. I’d have to go back to reality.


  12. Once you’ve written something, don’t write anything else until you’ve sold your first piece. Keep flogging that horse!

  13. 26. Always write and edit on a computer screen. It’s more efficient and well lit. Printing your manuscript out wastes paper (we need to be green here), clutters up your writing space, and corrections only have to be re-keyed into the computer.

    • All of these tips on how to fail as a writer are spot on and done with a sense of humor. Am going to write them down and add them to my “Thou shall not…” writing rules.

  14. 24. Avoid being concise and always try to add things unrelated to the topic. Readers like more for less.
    25. You have to write no matter what. It makes you rich just by sitting at a desk and scribbling random stuff.


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