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23 signs you’re a ‘real writer’ (just ask Jonathan Franzen)

Want to be a real writer? From being a middle-aged white dude to adopting Iraqi children, here is everything you need to know to be a ‘real writer’. You’re welcome.

1. Delete extra words. Then delete extra sentences and paragraphs. Finally just delete your entire goddamn novel

Your words are too great for the mortal coil. And people wouldn’t understand your intense metaphors anyway. I blame television.

2. Be the voice of your generation

Like E.L. James.

Or Orson Scott Card.

Or Jonathan Franzen.

3. Draw inspiration from your old, crappy writing

IT’S NOT PLAGIARISM IF IT’S YOURSELF.

4. Have lofty, procrastionary goals

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT A WORD?

how to be a real writer

Truth: I’ve narrated award acceptance speeches in my head

5. Follow all of the writing prompts

Example:

  • Pretend you are a writer with a really great idea. Write that idea.
  • You’re a human who has an inexplicable liking of dino sex. Write this. It will make you lots of money on Amazon.
  • Write about a writer writing writing prompts.

6. Keep a writing blog in which you talk incessantly about your writing and give writing tips

You are the most important person in the universe. Not Oprah or J-Law, but you. (Side note: Adele, Emma Stone, and J-Law are #squadgoals.) Entertain and amuse the nation with updates every day of your word count and your exciting life, writing in a corner of your room while the world moves without you.

Also tips. Write lots of those. Give tips with an authoritarian tone of voice. Or like you’re Jonathan Franzen.

7. Go on writer ‘retreats’

And not ‘retreats’ to your bedroom to drink wine, or retreat into yourself. Instead, drink wine with people while that one insufferable writer talks about his insufferable book that’s an exploration of the matriarchy featuring an archetypal 20-something man-child.

Maybe do some writing. I hear that’s a thing people do at these retreats.

8. Talk often about how your characters have full autonomy and control your story

You don’t write plot for them. They create plot for themselves. You are but a worthy scepter through which their voices flow.

That one character who is a murderer now? Not your choice. He did it all himself. *proud smile*

nope

Source: Giphy

9. Incorporate all of the diversity

Treat diversity like the buzzword it is by keeping a checklist of every possible race, disability, sexuality, and gender and do a mix and match. And no research.

Have you written a story featuring a blind, Cherokee, demisexual, agender fairy yet?

WHY THE HELL NOT?

10. Dialogue tags

The more extravagant the better.

Why use ‘say’ when your character can ‘petition’ or ‘holler’? Example:

“This blog post is a load of unfunny crap,” hollered the reader.

“I know,” Lisa petitioned, “but like I’m aware so it’s cool.”

Whatever,” the reader ejaculated.

Never settle for less than the best again.

11. Write everyday

All day. Don’t go to work or school or outside. Handcuff your wrist to your laptop and type ALL OF THE TIME. If your fingers aren’t bleeding you’re doing it wrong.

12. Refer to yourself as a ‘real writer’

You are  not one of those peasant writers with notions. You are better than them. You are Jonathan Franzen or Orson Scott Card or E.L. James.

13. Get all of the degrees

You are not a commoner. You need a degree, and a masters, and a PHD, and also a stint in that writing school Hannah Horvath goes to in that mini-arc where she temporarily lives in Ohio.

An uneducated writer can never be a real writer, because you’re invisible until you at least have an MFA.

Source: Tumblr

Source: idiopathicsmile on Tumblr

14. Steal

Steal other people’s ideas and make it infinitesimally better. The internet is unregulated and copyright doesn’t exist.

15. Routinely bash Young Adult fiction and fanfic

Fecking amateurs with their simple stories and lack of complexity. YOU HAVEN’T LIVED UNTIL YOU’VE READ HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL SMUT, okay?

When ya dying and your search history is full of HSM fanfic

When ya dying and your search history is full of HSM fanfic

16. Make a living from writing

But not, like, from blogging. Blogging is a realm for uneducated plebeians.

17. Read ALL OF THE things

But not YA or fanfic. Never those. Read all of the novels about tortured, older English teachers and their affair with the young wans they teach. Possibly imagine Woody Allen in the main roll, regardless of THAT controversy.

18. Adopt an Iraqi child so you can better understand the youths of today

In some circles, this is called ‘the Jonathan Franzen methodology to better writing’.

19. Be an alcoholic

This needs no explanation.

20. Have a cat

This also needs no explanation.

21. If you are a minority, probably don’t be that anymore because the publishing industry will be tougher for you

Seriously. This point isn’t a joke. Where possible, be a middle class white man.

Source: Giphy.com

22. Swear and write sarcastic advice

I’m 10% more legit because of this blog post. Just ask the novel I’m not writing instead, man.

23. Call yourself a real writer

The end. No snark here, friends. ‘Real writer’ is an illusion. When I was 12 and writing crap, I very much believed I was as real a writer as my 24-year-old self who literally makes a living from writing. Your only limitations are yourself and the work you’re willing to put in.

Like Yoda says, do or do not, there is no try.

TL;DR: be a middle-class white man and believe in your own self-importance. Alternatively, write. You’re a real writer. Congratulations.

P.S. if you like this post, please share it! Or, ya know, come follow me on Twitter. I’d promise fun times but that’s questionable at best.

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